Friday, October 21, 2022

A Game of One-Person Ping-Pong.

I wrote this two Fridays ago. Content management being what it is, I am posting it this morning.


It's late Friday afternoon as I type this. 

The end of one of the busiest weeks of my 42-year-long career. A week where I'm afraid to check my email or my cell phone because every time I do, I seem to get two more assignments.

I just got off a 6PM Zoom with three clients and a co-worker. The co-worker is a former Vice Chairman of Ogilvy, one of the men behind Apple's "1984" commercial and probably the smartest person I've ever met.

The three clients are scary-smart and scary-demanding as well.

And then there's me.

As the Coasters sang in their Lieber and Stoller hit "Charley Brown," "Why's everybody always picking on me?"

I think work for most people, or sports, or asking someone out on a date can often feel a little bit like a game of one-person ping-pong.

One half of you says: Do this.

The other half says: I can't.

Do this.

I can't.

Do this.

I can't.

This is the battle of growth. THE battle of growth. Of growing, of self-improvement, of challenging, learning, wanting more.

More money. More responsibility. More control. More possibilities. More tomorrows.

There are a lot of "I can'ts" in the world. And a lot of reasons for them. 

I'm tired.
I'm old.
That's not my job.
I don't know how to do that.
That's not what I do.
That scares me.
I'm too busy.

That half of the ping-pong table reverberates through a lot of brains, in a lot of agencies, in a lot of freelancer's apartments. The volume of that half of the ping-pong table is set at 11. And you'll usually find a host of enablers around who will encourage you to heed the "I can'ts."

Don't be so ambitious.
That assignment sucks.
That's not your job.
Come have a drink.

And so on.

Those are all bona-fide I can'ts.

They're hard to ignore. They know how to get under your skin. They capitalize on your fears and tell you it's ok to let fear win.

The "Do This's" are quieter.

They're fearful.

They don't like to speak up. They're the "still small voice" Jiminy Cricket talks to Pinocchio about. The one people don't listen to.

Of course there are people who will high-five you and say, "You go girl," to you via online platitude delivery systems.

But the "Do This's" have to come from inside your head. If you're lucky you'll find a mentor, or some close friends or a partner who knows how to cattle-prod you.

Do this.

I can't.

Your choice.

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