The past doesn't equal the future...

Have you ever struggled with the feeling that you’re a complete failure?

I have...you may be surprised to know I’m proud of it, because failure turned out to be my best friend incognito.

I was bottom of the class…33rd out of 33, year after year, for five in a row…it was grim. I aced grim.

Yours truly at the beach...

Yours truly at the beach...

Struggling to get out...

At 16 my future was dire. From all appearances, a lost soul…inside, a rock star struggling to get out.

At my final exam, with only my name on the paper…I sat in silence, motionless. Twenty minutes was the rule, then I left…I had places to go, people to see. My mission? Put school behind me as quickly as possible, move on, find a job. That’s what we’re supposed to do…isn’t it?

My job search was surprisingly short. Day one, I was hired on the spot…Head Dishwasher, head of one, at a One-Star hotel on it’s descent into no stars. Things were looking up.

The work was mindless, hot, backbreaking…no machines, just elbow grease. It came with benefits, namely…satisfaction. You start with dirty dishes on one side of the sink…end up with clean ones on the other side. It was the first time that satisfaction ever had meaning for me.

Up at 5:00am...

The bad news…I was so good at it, I was promoted. Busboy/waiter, two for the price of one…the breakfast shift, up at 5:00am. Admittedly it was progress…but I preferred washing dishes where I could take refuge in my thoughts, zone out, commune with my inner rock star.

Trussed up in a white shirt, black bowtie, baggy pants…all hand-me-downs…I stood at the doorway to the Dining Room. It was a whole new world…hotel guests hubbubing about, movers and shakers, over excited students from Europe, America, Australia, New Zealand…it was party-time, and the day had only just begun.

                               NYC in the rain from the front of a bus

                               NYC in the rain from the front of a bus

Slogging away…

Despite my academic shortcomings, slogging away in a sink up to my elbows in other people’s leavings, I figured out something…hard work could get you places…after all I had a promotion to prove it.

I hung out on the periphery of most things, not saying much…never knew what to say…my inner rock star wasn’t shy. “Go on, tell them”. “Show them what you’re made of…” I didn’t. My excuse…I didn’t have to prove myself to anyone.

Manifesto...

To keep my inner rock star quiet, I came up with an idea...a kind of manifesto: "From now on, I would work twice as hard as everyone else, and be the best I could be at all things." If nothing else, I was willing to accept I might have a future. I had a plan, something to believe in, and a roadmap.

Little did they know...

My gig as a waiter…yes, I was given another promotion, they dropped the busboy part and gave me a percentage of the tips. My confidence was building, “More coffee sir?” “Marmalade madam?” “The bill?” “Certainly, sir!” Do people still have marmalade for breakfast?

I soon discovered that I liked talking to people…it was up there with washing dishes, it appealed to my inner rock star. People would talk about the weather, ask me about my career…thinking I suppose that being a waiter wasn’t a real job…little did they know.

                                      The wilderness of North Ontario

                                      The wilderness of North Ontario

In my own right...

“Where are you from?” People would ask. “What are you studying?” “What do you want to be when you graduate?”

I liked answering questions…it empowered me…I was for the first time part of a conversation in my own right.

Doing social...

In one shining moment I realized how important it was to make friends…after all, to be a rock star you need fans. I was doing social long before social became what it is today. I liked them. They liked me. I shared. They shared. I commented. They commented…people connecting.

I'd caught up...

It slowly…very slowly, dawned on me…I had been as smart as the other kids in my class. I just hadn’t realized it at the time. I chose to believe those who mocked and ridiculed me instead. I measured myself against my report card, not the person I was inside.  It was mind-blowing…suddenly I felt a freedom I’d never known before.

By working twice as hard as everyone else, at a time when most put education behind them, I’d caught up. In fact, I streaked ahead, achieving things I never thought possible.

                                           Lake Ontario at sunset

                                           Lake Ontario at sunset

Say yes to everything
at least once…

 The World was my oyster…I could now see all sorts of opportunities around me. I continued to ask questions, I never stopped…I figured out that knowing the right questions was key. I gave of myself willingly…more important, I never expected anything in return...I said yes to everything...

Then one day I was ‘volunteered’ into an amateur theatre project by a friend. A musical: South Pacific. Me…the shy one…afraid to stand up in a room with more that two people. My inner rock star was glowing…a chance for us to become one.

Front and center...

And so 'we' did. We also won a scholarship to study theatre. University? I had to pinch myself. A lot of growing up had taken place without me noticing it. I was no longer on the periphery, I was front and center…take a breath...take a bow.

The theatre represented a world of possibilities…more growing up, testing the boundaries, pushing myself…a time where getting out of my comfort zone became a daily ritual. It was inspiring, but my ‘guides’ had other plans.

My secret weapon...

I loved the theatre and still do, however circumstances lead me to make an unexpected gear change…I was drawn to something I knew absolutely nothing about. I took a left turn into the trees, and found myself in advertising. Serendipity…destiny? Who knows? I was cruising…opportunity was on my side.

I scaled the ranks with seemingly little difficulty…producing TV commercials, lots of them. I worked hard...my secret weapon was continuing to pay off. I traveled the world in first class on someone else’s dime…the perks we amazing…

                               The sun setting on Bantry Bay, Ireland

                               The sun setting on Bantry Bay, Ireland

Believe in the mystery…

Advertising allowed me to explore my creativity in a completely different way…it was an incredible experience. The bragging rights, the rewards, the toys…but it had a price…too much time away travelling…I missed my family, my home, my friends, my stuff…dream jobs can become a nightmare, and mine wasn’t exempt.

The telephone rang...

One day, the telephone rang, as they tend to do. It was a friend, “Long time no see.” It was the beginning of an exchange that turned into an idea…then a reality…I’ve never looked back. It brought me the kind of satisfaction that I’d been looking for all along. All it took was one conversation, and my willingness to be open.

Expect the unexpected...

Everything happens for a reason…when the time is right the next thing comes along…expect the unexpected, be inquisitive…you never know when you might flip an ace.

My manifesto had paid off…I worked twice as hard as everyone else when most were just coasting. I’m coasting now, but I can afford to, I’ve done the work.

Turn up the volume...

This site is about helping people…helping you see the value in who you are…showing you how you can create the things you want…it's only limited by the bandwidth of your imagination. It’s about choice…belief…hope…

The Internet has become the most powerful democratic enabler ever created by womankind/mankind…it’s time to turn up the volume…focus on things that matter, for me that’s making a contribution…what about you?

By the way...

I still enjoy washing up...wanna talk dirty dishes? :)

 
“We cannot become what we want to be
by remaining what we are.”
— Max DePree