Tag Archive | Taking a chance

Jumping Off a Cliff Can Be a Good Thing

coyote-off-a-cliffIn 1997, I took a job as a Communication Specialist for a huge international company. I was hired to make the company website, (in the words of my boss)  “less vanilla.” At that point in time, I had no idea what the Internet was or how it worked. I took the risk to either fall on my but or create something people would use to learn about the company. I jumped off a career cliff with my eyes wide open.

In my new role, I assumed the responsibility to create a design that would be attractive and easy to use. I surfed for almost a week before I knew what would work. I discovered websites were nothing more than pictorial outlines. Knowing that, I presented my ideas, and after they was approved by the powers that be, the real challenge began.

At the early age of corporate websites, the information presented was considered “brochureware.” In other words, I needed to form a team to recreate the information on 47 different types of farm and construction equipment, which  meant coordinating efforts of web designers, programmers, artists, lawyers, and marketing people–all of whom thought and worked differently. I imagined myself like some kind of Magic Johnson, the point guard who directed the play, knowing where each player was so eventually, we all worked together as a cohesive team. I loved it.

My next employment experience was with smaller company three years later. My title was “Marketing Communication E-Commerce Administrator.” Sounds great, huh? This time I was hired to head-up a plan to develop an E-commerce website, which meant interfacing with all areas of the company and building rapport with our German arm of the organization who had done far more with their website than the rest of the company. Again, I took a chance to fly by the seat of my pants because I had no idea what “e-commerce” really entailed. Like my first assignment with the Internet, I learned I had what I needed. I knew how to build a strong team by building rapport with each member to get the job done. The risk this time was to learn about the new  functionality and capabilities of Internet development in order to coordinate the efforts of the team. I was stimulated as I convinced the old guard in the company that our efforts would help streamline their work.

Why am I telling you this? Truly, my intent is not to brag about past accomplishments, but to demonstrate how taking risks in life is a good thing. So many of us hang back and think we’re “too little” to try something new. I did that in my twenties after I married someone who constantly told me, “You can’t do that!” Finally, after 20 long years, I answered him, “Oh yes I can! Just watch me!” It took way to long to acquired the courage to shed his negativity and jump off that proverbial cliff. (Did I mention I didn’t have a job at the time I left?)

Getting divorced was probably the biggest risk I ever took, but look at all the opportunities which followed. If you live your life in a box, there’s little excitement coming your way. The box is safe. The box is familiar. You realize your limit, and finally, the box becomes a prison.

If you take a risk or enjoy a new opportunity, look up! The sky’s the limit! Like me, you’ll discover new abilities by taking the risk to fail. Chances are, you will come out just fine and wonder why you waited so long to try something new in the first place.

A “30-Second Commercial” in Action



Today was a great day. Not only was it a warm, (40 degrees) sunny day in March, I also got together with my brother at a local coffee shop to help him write a “30-second commercial” for a networking event he has planned for next week. Like a lot of folks in our area, Mark is looking for a job–again. His unemployment compensation will run out soon, so he’s been working hard to polish his resume, attend job fairs and networking events,  put himself in front of hiring managers to get the interview.  Have you heard of this?

If you have found yourself in the unemployment lines, most likely this exercise has been something you’ve had to do. I’ve done it more than once, and believe me, it’s not easy to think of your strengths and experience in that short of time! It’s especially hard when you have to do it in your 50s and you’ve never had to go through such pressure before. Such is the case with my brother.

For me, it was a chance to practice interviewing and writing for “space.” My writing skills haven’t been used in this way in a long time, and I truly love to help people in this capacity. So, after interviewing him for a while, I wrote a paragraph which outlined his experience in the food service industry, his strengths, and willingness to work any shift.  When he looked his finished 30-second commercial., he said: “This is it?”

I said, “Yup, short and to the point. It’s what they want to hear from you.”

He said, “I can do this.”

I answered. “I have no doubt you’ll be great!”

He breathed a sigh of relief and got up to get his second cup of coffee. When he came back to our table he said, “I just learned they have a position open here.”

My answer was, “Well, go talk to the manager.”

He said, “I’ll go online first and fill out the application.”

I insisted. “Go talk to the manager.”

He looked at me like a deer caught in the headlights, but I gently nudged pushed him into doing himself a favor.

After a few minutes withe the manager, my brother came back with a big smile and a business card in his hand. I was so proud of him! He was brave enough to just walk up to a hiring manager and take a chance.

He said, “God works in mysterious ways. All I have to do is fill out an online application and then call the manager back. He said he’d see to it that I will get an interview!”

I nodded and congratulated him. I didn’t want to burst his religious bubble, but his success was due to the fact he saw an opportunity, and he DID something about it.

So as a follow-up of my post yesterday about success and failure, trying and DOING — this experience proves that taking a deep breath, mustering courage, and taking ACTION can get results. You can pray all you want, but unless you seize the chance, nothing is going to happen. And so it goes for all of us.

P. S. And if my brother never has to use his 30-second commercial again, it did its job.

Ain’t it great to be a writer?