As promised in last week’s post about “Courageous Moments,” which highlighted a powerful strategy of recalling and reliving your own moments of bravery, I’m going to share with you the story of one of my own courageous moments. I am a writer at heart and I love storytelling, so I look forward to sharing many stories with you in future posts. Here it goes:
Less than a year out of college, after some soul searching about my future career, I decided that Human Resources was for me. About 6 months into a part-time, get my foot in the door HR gig, I got my golden opportunity – an interview for a full time, entry-level HR position at the corporate offices of a national firm. This was it.
I left nothing to chance. I prepped extensively for the interview, bought a new suit, practiced hair and make-up, even strategized my driving route and travel time. After all, the offices were in downtown Los Angeles…travel time could make or break this for me.
On the morning of the interview, everything was going swimmingly, until I got off the wrong exit leading into downtown. If you are familiar with downtown LA, you know that the heavy traffic, impatient drivers and one-way streets can be extremely anxiety provoking. Since I got off the wrong exit, I could no longer follow my nicely laid out Google Maps directions. (This was well before GPS and handy dandy smartphones that could instantly redirect me). Let me just tell you, I am a terrible navigator. I am not one to take this road or that turn “just to see where it leads.” I am the type that follows the Same. Route. Always. Because that is the way I know, even if it is not the fastest or most efficient way. Needless to say, I was a bit freaked.
But on my way to the interview for the job of my dreams, I had no other option but to get there, and get there on time. There was just no other alternative; I was gonna get there and I was gonna kill it. The extra cushion of time I had allotted myself “just in case” was running short. After several twists and turns I found myself on the right street, just a few blocks up from my destination. I was so relieved and then BAMMM!!!!! A car T-bones me in the middle of the intersection. I’m not saying that I ran the red light. I’m not saying that I didn’t. But I was definitely frazzled. The other driver and I get out to exchange information. I hurry through the process as much as I can. I get back into my car. T minus 10 minutes til interview. “Please, Lord, just get me there on time. Just help this car get me there and I don’t care what happens after that.”
As the other car went on its merry way, I got back into the driver’s seat and made a deal with myself. If I made it on time, I wouldn’t say word one about the accident; I would just roll into the interview like all was right with the world. If I was late, I would play up the accident as a means of excusing my tardiness. I started my car up and made my way gingerly down those last few blocks. I couldn’t believe my car was moving at all, even at its 10 miles an hour pace, fuming and screeching. I eventually got to the parking garage. I took the ticket from the automated machine as well as the odd looks from the parking attendant. I squealed into a spot, jumped out of the car and collected my things. As I exited the garage and crossed the street, I looked at my watch…three minutes to deadline. I smiled and said to myself out loud: “YOU are a total G.”
I walked right up to my future boss, who was waiting for me outside of my future workplace at a coffee shop, and introduced myself. She got a winning smile, a firm handshake and not the slightest whiff of my recent catastrophe. After hardcore CRUSHING that interview, I walked back across the street to the parking garage and phoned AAA. I never drove that car again. I timidly drove a rental for a week. I had another car in two weeks. I had my dream job in HR for the next four years.
And I have this courageous moment to inspire me…forever.
So there you have Normal Nelly’s first collection of posts on the theme of “Ownership.” Owning our whole selves is a very big goal. It’s something that I will be working towards for the rest of my life. I don’t expect to ever “arrive at” or “complete” this goal, but I do expect to make continual progress on this goal for the rest of my life.
What do you think? Are you in? Let me know in the comments. Make it real and say it! Type it! “I’m committed to owning my whole self, anxiety and all.” Adjust this statement as necessary to make it fit you…but I want to hear you say it!