When I was 12, I was desperate to be a supermodel. I remember reading in Seventeen Magazine that Nikki Taylor had been discovered while she was waiting at an airport, so for years after that, every time I flew, I would get breathless with desperation for some talent scout to pluck me from the traveling masses and plaster my face on billboards and magazines. (Thankfully - and no disrespect to supermodels - my older sister reminded me that I have a powerful brain and should do something more meaningful with my life. Phew!)
But that idea that I had to "be discovered" stuck with me. I wasted a good few years of my life, even as an adult, waiting to be chosen, wishing for recognition, waiting for nominations, and wishing for accolades. And I wasted even more of my life feeling deflated when they never came.
What an idiot.
Because what I realized with time and experience, is that the world doesn't work that way. We are led to believe that if we are good at something or have something to offer or create something worth sharing, that others will magically find out about it and find out about us. "If you build it, they will come" and all that.
But that's utter nonsense.
A lot of the time, the people on things like Forbes' lists get on those lists because they apply to be on them. A lot of the time, the companies that win awards are the ones that put themselves forward for the awards. A lot of the time, the speakers who deliver key notes at conferences are the ones who pitch themselves as speakers.
They're not discovered. They do the work and give themselves a chance, instead of relying on chance.
If I had really wanted to be a supermodel all those decades ago, I should have gotten a headshot, gone to auditions, threw my hat in the ring and done the work - and kept doing it and kept auditioning - instead of being passive-depressive about it.
Because as wonderful as we all may be and as much as we all may do, no one else is keeping track. No one is tallying all the amazing things we accomplish. No one is talking about our many wonderful ways of giving back. And they (almost) never will.
For example, over the past few years, I have volunteered 800 (yes, 800) hours of my time to my alma mater through free mentoring, coaching, and workshops. Is anyone chasing after me with a medal for my service? Is anyone nominating me for some sort of recognition? No, and no. But, if there is ever an opportunity to nominate myself, will I do so? Yes. And, of course.
Does that make me a self-promoting jackass? No. Because I did the work. I volunteered the hours. I didn't do it so I could get recognition, but if the opportunity to be recognized arises, then I'm going to recognize myself for how much I contributed and put myself forward.
That's what we all need to do. If you did the work, apply for the award. If you meet the requirements, put yourself forward. If you lived the experience, pitch for the story. If you have the product, ask people to buy it.
There is nothing holy about obscurity. There is nothing holy about anonymity. And there is nothing unholy about not staying obscure or anonymous.
Put yourself forward. Put yourself out there. Put yourself in the race. It doesn't mean you will always get what you want. But trying sure as hell beats waiting for someone else to discover what is wonderful about you or your business when you already know it is there.
During my last Power Hour session, I shared some tips about living your ideal day now, in whatever small way you can. (You can re-watch the session on Making Your Boldest Ambitions a Reality here). But since then, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that I wasn't thinking big enough. That doing small things was maybe too small. That maybe, just maybe, we could all live our Ideal Day for a full day, starting now.
What I mean is this: we all tell ourselves a story about what is or isn't possible. And sometimes that story goes something like this: your "ideal day" is pie in the sky and something you'll have to wait for if you ever get it at all, and oh, till then, you'll have to suffer lots and earn your ideal, but it won't come for years and years and years.
But what if we told ourselves a different story? What if we sold ourselves a different story? Because sometimes, just sometimes, the only thing separating our "ideal" from our reality is the choices we make and a lack of imagination.
So, I'd like to set us all a challenge to prove to ourselves how much of our Ideal Day is possible. Already. Now. Pronto.
First, write down in detail what your ideal day looks like (get all your senses involved): where do you wake up, what do you eat, what can you smell, what are you doing with your time, who are you with, how are you using your brain, how are you flexing your body, and how are you energizing your spirit. Think of as much detail as you can...
...And then - this is the key part - reserve a day in April (or sooner if you can) when you will actually live your ideal day. All. Day. Long.
Now before you protest about jobs and kids and other commitments, just go with it. Choose a Saturday or a Sunday if you have to. Get a babysitter. Take a day off work if you've got the leave. And then be creative and expansive about the Art of the Possible.
Make adjustments if required (some things might not be possible because of lockdown but get creative! If you can't go to a museum or the theatre in person, can you do a virtual trip or watch Hamilton on Disney+?), make plans if you have to, buy the groceries if you need to, but live as fully as you possibly can in your ideal day. ALL. DAY. LONG.
Here's what I'll be doing: waking up before the sun rises, eating a warm breakfast (American-style pancakes with lots of syrup), doing a virtual ballet class, reading fiction for a few uninterrupted hours, writing for a few uninterrupted hours, going for a walk in the sunshine to pick up coffee from my favorite local, running a workshop, and spending quality time with my family in the evening while we eat takeout (I hate cooking).
Nothing else. No email, no admin, no firefighting, just one precious day where I will live my ideal. (And for ultimate accountability, I'll be living my ideal day on 31 March... You can test me on it if you like because I'll be doing our 4th Power Hour session that day.)
If you need any convincing, here's why I think you should do this and why we all can do this: When we live our Ideal Day, we get to try it on, see how it feels, how it fits, and experience what this amorphous "ideal" is like.
And then, if it feels good, we can find ways (because our brains are creative like that) to live that ideal more often. And internalizing how good it feels will motivate us to make the ideal a reality more often too. And we can also see where we need to make tweaks, what we might want to change, what elements to leave out/put in, and what life changes might need addressing now.
And if it feels different to what we expected, that is good too. Because we now have information to tell us whether our "ideal" is really the promised land we told ourselves it would be, or if there is something missing.
Just go with me on this one. It may sound strange, and you may resist it, but just try. For one day, one whole precious full day, live your Ideal Day.
And experience what it's like to live a life of your own making because you made it happen.