I was at my lowest personally and professionally. It was 2004, I had just been fired and didn’t know what to do with myself. My entire identity had been wrapped up in being a coach. It was who I was not just what I did.
I was a train wreck; too embarrassed to leave the house, drinking alone during the day, I sat in my recliner for days (literally) and wasn’t showering. My own family didn’t want to be around me, my dog even avoided me. I couldn’t blame them, I wasn’t a very nice person and besides I was probably starting to smell.
Upon my wife’s advice, I hired a coach. Her name was Connie and early in my work with her she made a suggestion that made a profound difference in my life. She encouraged me to “move through the open doors in life”. Connie helped me re-frame my situation. Things that I thought were happening “to me”, in reality were happening “for me”. She helped me learn to listen to the market. At a time when I thought the “market” wasn’t being real kind to me.
Coach Connie showed me all the transferable skills that 12 years of leadership experience in higher education gave me that I could bring to the marketplace in another field. Actually she didn’t show me, she got me to show myself. (Good coaches do that) With her help, I parlayed those skills into a job working for ESPN Radio hosting an evening drive talk show in the Carolinas and serving as the station’s sales manager. Going into that position I had convinced myself nothing could possibly take the place of coaching, the thrill of victory, the competition in recruiting and let’s face it the status and perks it afforded you were pretty good too. I was holding on too tight to the past.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about that door I moved through. I wasn’t coaching athletes but I was still coaching, leading and motivating people. It was an opportunity to touch even more lives. It was hard work and I often had no idea what I was doing but damn it was fun. That open door also helped me re-prioritize and find more balance.
Several years later, when we moved to Maine my career in broadcasting was cut short by my employer Clear Channel selling off all their small market radio stations. My new coach, Barbara gave me the same advice Connie had back in North Carolina. Practically the exact same words, “move through the open doors”. I did and I found the same thing I found back in 2004, an opportunity to broaden my reach and touch even more lives with what I do today. But only because I moved through the open doors.
I share this with you because all too often I see people who are just like I was in 2004. People willfully holding on too tight to a season of life that has ended.
There are seasons to everything we do and often we are called into a new season of our lives. We need to be willing to move through that open door, it may mean a bigger, better season of life.
Consider what happens when you hold on too tight in sports.
Grip the ball too tight, you lose control and throw a lousy pitch. Clutch the bat too tight and you hurt your chances of getting a hit.
So often we fight, against our better judgment to “make things happen” and try to impose our will instead of letting things happen. I’m not suggesting you allow yourself to become a victim but what I am suggesting is that instead of viewing a situation as happening “to you” perhaps that situation is actually happening “for you”.
Willingness trumps willfulness. When we’re willful we often hold on so tight it becomes counterproductive. Willingness is the idea of “trying softer”, trusting yourself and having faith things will work out.
What locked doors are you gripping too tight on that just won’t open and are making you miserable? What open doors are you ignoring that might lead to the next season of your life being even better than the last? Maybe it’s not a career change but reinventing yourself, evolving and finding a better way in your current profession.
Instead of using willfulness and trying to make something happen that just wasn’t meant to happen, try using willingness and realize that sometimes closed doors are closed for a reason. That reason is to keep you out for your own good.
Thanks to my coaches, Connie and Barbara, I continue to move through the open doors in my life. I’ve come to the realization that it’s far more productive and life’s too short to do it any other way. I hope you’ll do the same.