Sunday, May 31, 2009

DON'T be a Susan Boyle!

I'm not writing this blog because Susan lost Brittan's Got Talent (though she will likely make $13 million dollars this year - not a bad consolation prize), nor am I writing this because she "had a break down" the week before the final. And I am NOT writing this because she has used 30 mins of her 15 mins of fame.

See Susan's Original audition

Nope. I am saying DON'T be a Susan Boyle so you don't lose 48 years before doing what you were meant to do in your life. Even though I'm not a big Susan Boyle fan it is clear she has some talent for singing. Perhaps if she had some support or a little more self-confidence she could have had a long career singing for people. As much as shows like this are a celebration of the amazing talent gems hidden among us - I think they are equally as sad about lives lived below their potential.

So how do you figure out what to do?
You could listen to a great speech...
You could read someone's blog about it...
Or you could read a great book about it...
Or read an Online Magazine Article...

I don't think this is easy question to answer. In fact - in addition to doing all of the above I have asked successful people how they knew they wanted to do what made them successful. One recent example sticks in my mind when I asked a successful business owner and he said, "Tom, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up..." which I found fascinating because by many measures or standards this person would be viewed to be very successful. BUT - perhaps in the US we are led to believe that success & money = life's purpose. And the closer you get to having both, you realize your true life's purpose probably doesn't care about either.

I recall the quote "Nobody really wants to be rich, everyone just wants to do what wealth buys..." which could include freedom, dream vacations, awesome cars... but the funny thing is even that can be empty. Reminds me of a story I have used here before...

Quick Story:
Thanks to: "Living the 80/20 Way"

     Thinking about lunch, the vacationing businessman stared at the calm, blue sea. A small boat, laden with large yellow-fin tuna, docked near the pretty Mexican village. A lone fisherman jumped ashore.
     "That's a great catch," said the tourist. "How long did it take you?"
     "Not so long," replied the Mexican.
     "Why didn't you stay out there longer and catch more fish? It's only noon!"
     "That's enough fish to keep the family provided for," replied the fisherman.
     "What do you do with the rest of your time?"
     "Sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have lunch, take a siesta with my wife, Maria. Stroll into the village each evening, sip wine, play guitar and cards with my amigos - a full and rich life, señor."
     "I think I could help you," the visitor said, wrinkling his nose. "I'm a Harvard MBA and this is the advice you'd get in business school. Spend more time fishing each day, buy a bigger boat, make more money, then buy several boats until you have a fleet. Don't sell your catch to the middleman, sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You'd control the product, production and distribution. You could then leave this small town behind, move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, perhaps eventually New York City to run your expanding firm."
     "But señor, how long would this take?"
     "Fifteen, twenty years."
     "But what then, señor?"
     "That's the best part," the businessman laughed. "When the time is right, you could float on the stock market and make millions of dollars."
     "Hmmm, millions you say. What then, señor?"
     "Then you could retire. Move to a pretty village by the sea, sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, Maria, stroll to the village in the evenings, sip wine, and play guitar and cards with your friends!"

In closing - I am sorry I don't have all of the answer's for you - but the point is likely neither does anyone else but yourself. It seems unlikely that the next promotion was tailored to fulfill your dreams or the next assignment at work. You will need to 1) decide what you want and then 2) make it happen.


Karen said...

being me the suggestion i took first was to read the blog's advice. Lots of good nuggets worth considering - especially to clearly evaluate those around you's lives.

On to the speech and others soon.

Thanks, Tom.

Tom said...

Hi Karen,
I have also added a pretty good magazine article to the list, but it's a 6 page preview to the author's book which may be interesting too!

Anonymous said...

I loved the fishing story. But isn't Susan Boyle the fisherman? She doesn't need fame, to sing in front of the queen, record an album, even though she has the potential to do all things. Susan Boyle loves to sing, and she was already doing it--she sang by herself, for her church, for small charity events. It seems from her current hospitalization that a "successful" career in singing is not for her.

Tom said...

Anonymous - interesting take - though my point is outside of the competition it wouldn't be so pressure packed if she is cracking. She could be sharing her gift with the world and I bet she'd love to sing for larger audiences versus hiding talent away in remote villages.

It's like the story of the woman who saved all her money to take a cruise ship to America. While on the cruise ship she hid in her room affraid to go out because she didn't have any money (it was all used on the voyage). On the last day of the cruise she found out that it was an all inclusive cruise and she could have lived like a king for the long journey. Life is the all you can eat cruise - but you have to get out of your room!

Vickie said...

I think a co-worker said it all. Her quote was,"I don't care if you get in the car and go to the wrong place. At least you took the initiative to get in the car."

Dale said...

I love that story... Just shows you have to see the bigger picture (and why I will never be a workaholic)

Anonymous said...

Does this mean I don't have to go to grad school?