I stumble upon a lot of fragments as I wander and read my way through the world. I think a lot of us are really like birds. We build our nest, our homes with little shards and twigs and pieces of this and that. We're not so different from the fierce ospreys that live on top of the telephone poles planted for them in the swamps high above the sea. We take what we find around us, and do the best we can with what we find.
I don't know where I found this sentence below. But I found it and I quickly wrote it down and saved it in my birds' nest folder. It will come in handy someday, either in a conversation I'm having with myself, or with some young person somewhere.
"I was filling my role rather than filling my potential."
After forty years working in giant agencies, it's not hard to identify with that. You're asked to take one for the team. Because you can handle tough-stuff (that's generally not that much fun) you get the tough stuff that's not that much fun. When I was a kid, I was sentenced to write radio. I was good at it, and most of the other writers ran from it like you might run from a disease. Back when people ran from diseases.
There's a Murphy's Law in there somewhere. But I'm not one-hundred-percent sure of what it is exactly, except that somehow some people cherry-pick their way to success. I've never been that lucky.
Reading, I think The Wall Street Journal's book review section, which is among the best journalism you can lay your hands on, I came upon this book--a public debate of sorts about the best 100 baseball players of all time. You can buy the thing here.
And if you can get through the Journal's Draconian paywall, you can read Leigh Montville's review here.
I quickly sent a copy to my best friend and my brother. We had all played ball together and we all still thought about the game--especially this time of year when the playoffs and the World Serious are about to take place.
Jorge Navidad was not included in the top hundred ballplayers, maybe by the time they get into listing players 49,000,000-49,000,100, my name will appear. But flipping through the e-book, I quickly came upon this short haiku and was arrested by it.
There's a lot in those seventeen syllables. There's a lot to be said for trusting your eyes, your experience, your instinct, your gut.
Many people in our business don't. They look for rule books and if-then propositions. They trust strangers before they trust themselves. Or they listen to the dark recesses of doubt that we all wear as a frontlet--at least at times.
Good places to work--or even harder, making working for yourself a good place to work--make sure that your role and your potential are both fulfilled.
Right now at GeorgeCo., LLC., a Delaware Company, I am doing more work, for a greater variety of clients, that call on me to fill more roles than I have ever before in my long career.
Maybe filling a lot of roles is filling my potential.
For one client, I'm helping with names. For another, I'm helping introduce a dessert to the US. For another, I'm wading through 32,000 pages of power-point and trying to discover who they are. For still another, I am learning the ins-and-outs of a chemical process that could lead to a breakthrough that could change an industry and help feed the world.
Along the way, I've been charged with writing a 5,000-word essay about this chemical process--so more people will understand it--and even more important, the right people will invest in it.
There's no telling what life will hand you on any particular day. And if you wonder while you wander--as we all should strive to do--there's no telling what you will discover, save, remember, recall and build your nest with.
The best living advice I ever got I got from a story by the great writer, and my writing hero, Joseph Mitchell. He didn't say this exactly. But I'm an arrogant writer and rewrite even the best if I think I can make things better.
Go through life like an old waiter.
Don't look down at your feet or the ground. Walk with your head up all the time. Look for customers who need you. Keep your eye peeled for tips. And trust your eyes.
There's no telling what you'll see.