The sound of silence

One of the biggest fears I had when I was planning to leave the corporate world, of course not knowing at the time the corporate world was going to leave me, was that I would become addicted to television.  It would be on all the time and I would get sucked into watching Rudy for the 90th time.  That movie always makes me cry. Or I would end up watching a reality show about someone else’s fabulous existence.  And instead of living my life, I would become a passive observer of another’s carefully edited life.  So this year for Lent I gave up TV cold turkey.  Not an easy thing to do as it was just as the latest season of Lost was starting up.  Thank heaven for DVR’s!  But I stuck to it and learned I could live without that which provided me my living.  Which is a scary thought in and of itself.  What if other people found that out?  Where would my job be then?  Well, that question was answered for me!

But I often turn to media for ideas on what to write and this morning was no exception.  I had the television on in my hotel room while I was getting ready and the pundits were in full chorus.  Nothing was coming to me and it all sounded like so much babble.  With that, off went the power button.  The silence that enveloped the room was wonderful.   And a funny thing happened.  The ideas started coming fast and furious.  It took shutting off the cacophony to start the symphony in my brain.  I’m always humbled when that happens.  I am reminded that my ideas are just as strong, relevant and insightful as anyone who has the floor.  I should be listening to my own thoughts instead of letting someone do my thinking for me.  Popular culture and news are very important in our world and have a legitimate place at the table.  But in the conversation that is uniquely mine, their voice mustn’t become a lecture that drowns out my own voice.

I also gave up sweets for Lent and was successful…for the 40 days I had to be.  Then it was back on the Sugarland Express!


Turns out one of the guiding principles of my life wasn’t a genius idea I came up with but was identified early by the renown actor Peter Ustinov.  He said “It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously“.  I’ve often been heard saying about myself and the work I did when I was selling television advertising time, “I take my job seriously, not myself.”  Beyond the obvious meaning of the words, I’ve never really thought about what that meant.  At it’s most basic interpretation, I think it meant that I took my clients and my company’s goals very seriously, with all associated diligence to their business.  At the same time, the impatience, anger and pressures that were directed at me during negotiations or budgeting weren’t taken personally.  I recognized these negatives were a result of things stressing the other person and were beyond my control.  I tried my best to help with whatever it was I could impact.

Now that I am self employed, I realize this truism is even more relevant.  I am working very hard, getting my business set up, managing every last detail, spending long hours in pursuit of work, putting myself out there as much as I can.  However this time I am the product.  So the line between taking the job and not the self seriously gets a little harder to draw.  Especially when I don’t get chosen to do the work.  Remembering that being invited again and again to audition for the job is a win.  If I wasn’t doing something right, I wouldn’t get the calls.  The jobs will come, just keep taking the work seriously.