This story is one for the mind – it’s about courage and faith. Dorie Clark, Harvard Business Review (HBR) and Forbes contributor, and best selling author of “Reinventing You” is no stranger to taking big leaps of faith and embracing serendipitous moments in her life. She lives by Theodor Roosevelt’s words of wisdom:
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Fear is often a factor that trumps our ability to make a decision. We may fall into analysis paralysis or become so overwhelmed that the dark cloud of “mental blockage” camps out over our heads (and just does not want to move onto another campground!). Fear may also limit our ability to reach our potential.
“Take your best guess and try your hardest. Remind yourself to decide and be ok with the possibility of knowing that you might have made a mistake”, adds Dorie. Wait, what? “Be ok with the possibility of knowing that you might have made a mistake”-a radical idea.
What is her recipe for overcoming fear and making the most of her life?
1. Embrace change
In her early 20’s, Dorie was determined to pursue a career in academia and applied to several doctorate programs in English literature. After facing rejections from all of the schools she applied to, she re-evaluated her purpose and landed a job as a political journalist. After a year, the aspiring correspondent was laid off as the newspaper industry was starting to lose ground to the fast-rising digital media world. Since she had built up some experience and contacts in politics, she decided to venture into communications and became the campaign spokesperson for a gubernatorial, then a presidential race.
The layoff at the beginning of her career was a pivotal moment in her life: “I was happy to be a life-long journalist. When I lost my job, I realized that there was no such thing as a secure job market and that I needed to be flexible. I never planned to be an entrepreneur but given the job climate and my interests at that time, I ended up on the path of becoming one. I saw that the way things used to be didn’t work anymore. I needed to think differently; I tried things that were out of my comfort zone.”
2. Ask for what your want
“Put your intention into the universe but don’t get hung up on the outcome. Recognize that the goals you may envision may not happen the way you envision them. And that’s ok. Try different ways and learn from each effort. One day, things will click. They may not click the way you had expected but they will make sense when the time comes”, advises Dorie.Ask for what you want but recognize that you don't control the outcome. Click To Tweet
3. Take steps to make it a reality
Unlike many people may think, you don’t need to take one huge step all at once. “Be strategic and let things evolve over time”, comments Dorie. “Patricia Fripp, a well-known public speaker, started her career as a hair stylist and transitioned into becoming an executive coach and high-profile speaker over a decade. She caught her clients’ attention by asking business savvy questions, which led to consulting sessions at their companies. And that’s how she grew her business”, she concludes.
Dorie herself is another great example. Her goal was to share her insights on branding and marketing in high-profile business publications. She started blogging on Huffington Post, kept pitching her articles to high-profile business magazines with no success, until one day Harvard Business Review came knocking on her door….well, almost like that.
4. Have faith
You just never know how that door will open for you so have faith. Dorie’s wish came true from an unlikely source. She posted her bike for sale on Craigslist so she could get a new one. To her surprise, the person who answered her ad was an editor at Harvard Business Review and her relationship with HBR began. Her second blog post on reinventing your personal brand caught the eye of the editor and resulted in a full-length article. This article piqued the interest of her future agent who encouraged Dorie to write a book on this topic. “Reinventing You” was published in 2013, and her second book, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It came out in April 2015.
5. Take charge of your narrative
“Don’t assume people know what you stand for. Whether you’re starting something radically new or just meeting people for the first time, make it easy for them to understand what you stand for and how you can help. Help them become your ambassadors” are Dorie’s last words as we wrap up the interview.
Thank you, Dorie for teaching us how to reach our potential. Maybe not how you envisioned teaching these lessons in your 20’s but nevertheless, they’re invaluable lessons. Keep on sharing!
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