When I was in graduate school, I had a lot of part time jobs. I was a bartender, I demonstrated toys in a department store, I promoted a meditation program for losing weight [Being Thin], and I taught part-time at a local university.
When I went to the local ABC TV station in Boston to promote my client, Being Thin, I had a great talk with the producer and the news director, who was Andy Rooney’s daughter. They weren’t interested in my client. They were interested in me.
They wanted to know where I went to school, what I was studying, and why I looked so happy. I kept on trying to bring the topic back to my client, they kept on asking me what I knew about. Finally, they asked me if I wanted to be on TV?
I didn’t know if I heard them correctly. They had an opening at the end of Wednesday’s noon news program for someone to talk about “feeling good, about dealing with stress, about getting along with your family and your boss, stuff like that.
I gave them a lot of excuses, “I’m not good looking enough”, “I don’t know enough”, “You really should use the people from my client.” They didn’t buy it. They wanted me.
Finally, I said, “yes, I’ll do it.” I was there on Tuesday and they wanted me to start the next day.
I did it. I stayed up the whole night preparing my three minutes and the next day I was on TV talking about reducing stress. After my segment, I answered phone calls from listeners, including some relatives I had lost touch with. This segment continued for several weeks and I had a lot of fun.
The other graduate students couldn’t believe they were watching me on TV. My professors at graduate school watched me on TV and liked what I had to say. The only ones who were upset were my clients and unfortunately we had to part company.
This was one chance I didn’t let go and I’m glad I did it.
But I did have another chance that I let go.
I had just started a job as an assistant professor at a state university in California. Peter Drucker, the famed management scholar was teaching at a nearby university. He was not a good speaker and was looking for someone articulate who could explain his theories to large audiences. He was looking for someone who could develop training programs around his theories. One day I got a call asking me if I was interested in being that person. It was a chance to start something new. It was a chance to work with Peter Drucker.
I was afraid. I didn’t take that chance. I never got another call.
I don’t look back with regret since my life has turned out fine. But, as I think about that chance today, I also think about what stopped me from taking that chance as well as other chances that I didn’t take and I wonder what kept me back.
Fear was undoubtedly the major reason.
I have finally learned to take chances when they do come my way, even when I am not quite ready. I have very little to lose and a lot to gain.
Every day, it seems as if we have new chances. Chance to meet people who might change our lives. Chance for a new job. Chance to eat a new kind of food. Chance to try a new coffee shop. Some are small things. Some are big things.
It’s hard to know which ones are good and which ones are bad, but some are worth taking if we can put our fear aside, even temporarily.
Complacency and fear keeps us where we are. Some chances aren’t worth taking, but when some come our way, we really should grab them, especially if we are unhappy where we are.
If you are in a situation that you would like to change, recognize that everyday, “the warden comes to you with the key, with another chance to do something else”.
Grab the key, take the chance.
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