Put Yourself on the Line and Dance
James Earl Jones did not give us the full story. Remember in Field of Dreams when he told Kevin Costner “If you build it, they will come”? What he should have said is, “If you build it, bring in a focus group, market it, market it a different way, promo it, refine it, market it again, and again, and again, talk to your customers, beat your head against a wall, market it, refine it, pray a lot, remind yourself to breath, market it, talk about it, network, get coaching, market it, market it, market it, then (and only then) they (your customers) will (might) come (buy)”.
But oh….isn’t it so much nicer to think that we’d only have to do one thing and everything else would all fall into place? Managers could get the results they want simply by achieving the job title. Work could be meaningful simply by finishing your degree. Jobs could be secured as quickly as you could e-mail your resume. You’d get fit just by joining the gym. Your relationships would be rich the moment you shake hands. If you build it they will come.
It seems almost comical, and yet it’s one of those weird human habits that many of us fall into – we set our expectations based on what we’d like to have happen rather that what we’re making happen. Sometimes we forget that there’s a big difference between dreaming it, and doing what it takes.
Thinking back to when I was a scrawny insecure seventh-grader with Dorothy Hamill hair, it seems that this has been a lesson I’ve had to learn over and over again. Remember what you were like when you were twelve years old? I remember brown satin pants. I don’t know what prompted the unlikely purchase, but on my twelfth birthday, my Grandmother, who usually bought me ugly underwear, sent me a pair of nutmeg brown satin pants. They were the bomb. I was sure that those pants would transform me into a magnetic Charles Angels-like babe. And that was my expectation as I entered the darkened basement cafeteria for my first dance.
I remember seeing the light reflect off my pants, hoping it might catch the eye of that beautiful dark haired boy with braces across the room. I remember trying to drink the red punch and trying not to get a punch moustache. I remember a lot about that dance, wearing the satin pants. What I don’t remember, is actually dancing.
Services/ job titles/ degrees/resumes are a lot like satin pants. They can look good, but they can’t make sure you’ll dance. It still takes something. It takes having to put yourself on the line. Even when you don’t want to.
It’s not that we’re not working hard – we’re all working more hours, and trying to do more with less. We’re busy, busy, busy! I don’t know about you, but I can spend days at a time in my office incredibly consumed with getting stuff done, and not get one step closer to making a difference in my business, or in my life, or in the life of someone else.
Today, think of one action you can take that would force you to put yourself on the line and bring you one step closer to the business/career/life you want to create for yourself. It’s all just one big dance. Don’t sit it out on the sidelines. Especially in a field of dreams.
©OnStage Leadership, 2009 (re-posted in 2014)
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