Can A Horse Save A Man?

Man with horse

Whatever I was going to write today… you can read that another time.

Today, I want you to read this inspiring story from The Washington Post – and tell me, isn’t there always light at the end of the tunnel? Isn’t there always space for redemption?

Can’t you always change?

I Am A Loser

There are three ways to tell this story:

1.  Although after winning a commanding 43% in the final round of The Washington Post’s @Work Advice Contest, they chose someone younger with consistently fewer votes.

2.  I don’t care that I didn’t win The Washington Post’s @Work Advice Contest because I really don’t have time for it anyway.

3.  I gave The Washington Post’s @Work Advice Contest my best shot – I wrote like Monet painted – but the judges preferred Van Gogh.  And that is OK.

See, there are always many ways to tell a story.  And I told all of those versions of my story in the first 24 hours after I found out that, despite having the vast majority of the final vote, I didn’t win.

It was hard.

It really hurt.

Because I had put myself out there, and told all of you that I really wanted the job.

And I worked hard.

And I put other things aside to focus on the contest.

And I fell short.

Then I got a grip, and thought of all the clients over the years who have been final candidates in some executive search and haven’t been offered the position.  What do I advise them?

Honor the full sweep of your emotions. Because there are no “wrong” emotions.  There are just emotions.

So, heeding my own advice, I was – by turns – angry, sad, self-chastising, denying, accepting.

No pretending.  Just whatever it was, as it was.

And, after all of that emotion, I settled into this thought:  Close, baby, but no cigar.

But the damn cigar is completely within reach.

The cigar that’s coming next for me may just be a different brand, and aroma, and size than I expected. And I will welcome it.

You all know that I believe we each have 100 units of energy to spend each day.  Yesterday’s are gone, and tomorrow’s belong to tomorrow – so how I spend my 100 today is vital.  And totally up to me.

I know that in order to achieve anything, I must use my energy to support my greatest priorities:

Being a good enough parent.

Doing work that makes a difference, and that I am proud of.

Caring for my emotional, spiritual, physical and financial health.

Truth is, I would have loved writing for The Washington Post.  But not writing for The Washington Post offers me the opportunity to put more energy units on my true, real priorities.

Plus, there are gifts for me in not getting what I wanted.

(Which is something I often suggest clients look at – and after they throw something at me, they usually find the gifts inherent in any difficult situation.)

For me, the gifts were multiple:

I tested my writing skills and found them strong, coherent, and well-received.

I connected with people who love my work.

I found new people who love my work.

I enlarged my comfort zone.

I felt tremendous gratitude for an ocean of support from people all around the world.

So, I am a loser.  No doubt about that.

How do I know?  Because I did not win.

But, I am a happy loser who feels like she got the best possible part of the whole deal.

See, in losing I found more of myself.

And that’s a win, sugar. A big, honking, bona fide win.


Risk. (Allow) Reward.

Not Ed But A Guy Named Ed

I bumped into my friend Ed, who told me he’d gotten a new job.

“Rock on with your bad self!”I exclaimed (or something close to that). Ed went on to tell me that there had been 70 candidates for the position he had won. I asked him how he did it.

“That’s really interesting,” Ed reflected. “I asked that very question of the man who hired me. Know what he said?” I was hanging on Ed’s every word at this point.

“He said that of all the final candidates, I was the only one who said I wanted the job.”

“What?” I was incredulous. “What did you say, exactly?” (because I knew you’d want to know.)

Ed went on, “I said to my prospective boss, ‘This is my dream job, and I’d really love to have it.”

Of all the people interviewing for the job, Ed was the only one who took the risk to reveal what he really felt – to reveal an eensy bit of vulnerability – and that’s what got him the job.

A big, senior level job, I might add.

So many of us would play it a different way.

Maybe we put on the jaded act – been there, done that, slightly bored, seen it before. Yawn.

Some of us expect to be tapped on the shoulder after quietly, self-effacingly, doing great work … tapped on the shoulder and offered the dream job of a lifetime. “Me?  You want me?” we rehearse saying, like Miss America who has no idea – no idea! – she’s the judge’s favorite.  All faux humility, big smile and practiced walk.

And then there are those who think that since they went to the “right” college and made it into the “right” program, then – by rights – they are entitled to a big, senior level job. I know that’s not you – that’s the guy in the next cube, right?

But none of these types are really taking any risk. They never reveal a little of themselves.  A little of what they want.  A little vulnerability.

Which, then, keeps them from what they really want.  Because they can’t say what they want out loud.  It’s too risky.

Recently, I took a risk. I saw a small item in the way back of a special section of The Washington Post. It said, in small type, that they were going to have a contest to find a new career advice columnist. That interested people should enter into the contest the following Wednesday.

I cut it out.

I taped it to my computer monitor.

And looked at it for at least five days.

Until the day I could enter.

I clicked. I read.

I noticed.

The entry form didn’t ask if I wrote a blog. Didn’t ask if anyone read my stuff. Didn’t ask: How Many Twitter Followers and Facebook Friends Do You Have?

Just name, city, age, job.

Then, “answer two of these five reader questions.”

I paused for a moment. Maybe it was two. Or three or seven.

I couldn’t skate this thing because I have a blog that a few people read. My personal brand made no difference.

I was just gonna be me. Doing my best.

So, deep breath, I took the risk, and submitted. And decided to allow whatever was going to happen to just go ahead and happen.

Few weeks later: got an email. “You are a Top 10 Finalist!”

Huh. And, wow!

Took a risk and submitted a piece for the first elimination round. What would happen, would happen.


Got an email: “You have made it through to the Second Round!”

Huh. And, wow! Funny how I’m just allowing it all to happen.

[Could have quit at this moment. Really. I mean, it was my choice. But I continued. Because it felt all flowy and good. Totally allowing. And fun.] [Most importantly, fun.]

And now,  I just got another email. I’m into the Third Round.

There are six people left. Two will be eliminated this week.

And I’m gonna be all vulnerable with you, just like my friend Ed – writing for The Washington Post would be my dream job. Since I was 10 years old, I have read The Post nearly every day.

I’m taking a little risk in telling you that.  Getting all vulnerable with you… Because anything could happen.  But I think it’s OK.

I’ve taken a risk to get what I want. And I am creating the space to allow whatever outcome that comes to come.

Which just may be the perfect stance to receive a reward. Like my friend Ed did.

How about you? Ready to take a risk? And allow the space for a reward?

Doesn’t have to be a huge risk – just has to feel risky to you.

Why not take your risk? And then just allow whatever to happen.  I bet you’ll reap a reward.

Then you’ll have to tell me all about it.

Cuz I’m gonna write you up in the paper.

The Washington Post newspaper.



To vote in The Washington Post @Work Advice Contest, go to after Noon ET on Wednesday, October 12, 2011.  Click on my picture.  Then click on the yellow link on the left side – Vote For Your Favorite.  Click on my picture again, then click Submit, so your vote will count.  And thank you.  From the bottom of my heart – thank you.