The other day I was fortunate to meet up with a very well-connected, creative, thoroughly enjoyable lady named Gillian. This is not a shameless suck up: these things are true and she is the inspiration for this story so she must be given props. Gillian is in the business of connecting people and industry to their mutual benefit. You can tell from speaking to her that her work excites her, engages her and provides her with what she needs to feel successful at her job. It lights her up. What I was surprised to find out, is that when I talk about teaching or presentation, a little light shows up for me too.
I was intrigued by this observation from a woman I was meeting for the first time. We had chatted on the phone and chatted by email but as we all know, this is no replacement for face to face. Face to face is slowly losing its ground in a world of whirling thumbs and micro screens. To me, this is the shame to end all shames. How can you tell what people are truly passionate about ? How can you really connect with someone if you aren’t able to check out their body language and see what shines through when they aren’t paying attention ? How will you ever be able to see what lights someone up ?
Gillian and I have discovered that we share many things in common. We love solving problems. We love working with people. We love taking pictures of people solving problems. Well not really, but we love taking pictures. Based on our previous chat, and mutual admiration for Niepce and Daguerre without whom this part of the conversation wouldn’t have happened, I brought my portfolio of photos. Now someone admiring your work online is lovely and appreciated. But watching someone light up when they see a photo you’ve taken and developed ? Creating that light in someone else ? Inspiring that passionate response ? There isn’t an app for that.
This topic came up when Gillian asked me what kind of job I’d like to do within the communications industry. She was looking at my resume at the time and noted that I’d been an instructor. I LOVE teaching. LOVE IT. I love giving presentations: love engaging people, making them laugh, making them think and providing the information in a way that they might not have considered before but helps them to understand that much better. What I didn’t realize was that when I described doing these things, they light me up. My passion for them shows through loud and clear. Interesting. Bet I couldn’t covey that in 140 characters or less.
So this got me to thinking. What does light people up ? What makes you passionate and want to gesture wildly with your hands ? What makes you animated and gets the cogs of creativity creaking ? What engages you so much that you would love to spend the rest of your life causing that spark in other people ? And why aren’t I doing it ? That was a bit of a thud wasn’t it ? Why, if those things light me up like the tree at Nathan Philips at Christmas time, am I not doing them ? Well the cool thing is, with my new career choice, I will be able to.
Wouldn’t it be thrilling to know that at some point you will be able to take your passions, those things that light you up and use them to earn a living ? It is for me. It feels like, sooner than later, I will be able to gesture wildly (though very professionally) about an idea or product or company and share that spark. I will be able to teach and inspire. After all, aren’t all these things forms of communication ? Isn’t this what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years ? With having being an instructor, a Girl Guide leader, a medical secretary and an event security guard, all I’ve done is communicate even if it’s only to say ‘No, you cannot take that knife in to the concert’. I conveyed a message that was clear, concise and polite. No wonder communications lights me up. It’s what I’ve always done.
It took this conversation with Gilian to see things this way. I was stumped as to how my previous careers were going to meld in to my new direction. How could I take my experience with patients, parents, girls and guys with knives and apply it to a career in communications ? Turns out it won’t be so hard. Turns out, this career has been waiting for me to find it all along. I just had to let my light shine.