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By: Jamie Collins
I cannot write.
I cannot speak.
I cannot blog.
I cannot mentor.
I cannot lead.
I cannot inspire people.
You should know who said this. It’s you. Words uttered via that faint, subtle, internal, personal voice echoing inside your own head. Mine, too. Perhaps a few years ago, I would have believed every word.
I could not write.
I could not speak.
I could not blog.
I could not mentor.
I could not lead.
I could not inspire people.
It’s true. At least it was…until.
Until the very moment I decided I could do those things. I could write, speak, mentor or lead. It was in that singular, millisecond sliver of time, that one, intense, fleeting, soul searching, moment of honesty, the one where I fully lived, breathed, and implored myself to bask in the potential reality of it all, that the “could nots” left me in reckless abandon. All I found standing before me was a list of things:
I could do.
I would do.
I will do.
Things I would learn, seize, embrace, try out, and become.
It was in that moment that it all became clear. It was in that moment that the cannots became coulds. Things I could do. Would do. When I realized who I really was. Who I would become. Who I am. It was in that moment when that list of things formerly chalked up as undoable became things that could be done.
The shifting of an internal mindset allowed me to step out of anonymity, and into the arena of life. One can find the arena in a variety of forms. In fact, there are numerous arenas all around you at this very moment. You can find them in professional associations, law firms, volunteer groups, not-for-profit organizations, classrooms, soup kitchens, women’s shelters, churches or standing before a friend, coworker or a next door neighbor’s home. All around you are people that could use your help. People that are secretly hoping you’ll help, reach out, join, engage in a discussion, pass out name tags at a meeting, tutor a child, deliver a home cooked casserole in a time of need, write an article, share a little wisdom, take a chance, give a speech, teach a seminar, provide a little guidance, assistance and encouragement or simply inspire them to keep going – perhaps through another day, perhaps to something bigger and better than themselves.
They want you.
They need you.
They are waiting on you.
In the grand scheme of life, we all need each other. We innately feed off of each other’s energies, passions, personal stories, tragedies, relatable moments, celebratory milestones, experiences, and a multitude of other human and professional commonalities. We feel compelled to interact, share, learn, grow, and help one another. Yet, we often find ourselves trapped in an invisible bubble of unimaginable depth; a state of personal existence where we don’t engage; we don’t reach out; we don’t attempt to learn, grow or do much by way of helping others. We unintentionally find ourselves trapped far within ourselves, doing just enough to get by. There are a number of reasons why this occurs.
For starters, we like to say we’re “too busy.” A great excuse indeed. We “don’t have time” to tutor the student, bake the pie, pass out the name badges, write the article, join the group, have lunch with the aspiring colleague, blog, speak, teach, mentor or lead. We find ourselves trapped in our current reality, unable to step up, step out or step in, to allow ourselves to visualize what we could do, change or become…if only we did.
I, too, used that excuse. Too busy.
Why? It was easy. It was a way to keep myself sitting safely on the sideline. A place where it felt comfortable to be complacent, cloaked in anonymity, and seated far, far away from the arena. In a place so far from the movers and shakers, that I felt none of their energy, and only a sliver of my own potential. I was sitting in the cheap seats in the Stadium of Personal Potential. I kept that potential-squelching, self-discovery prohibiting buffer in place for the majority of my legal career.
There I sat. It was business as usual. I enjoyed what I did for a living. I truly felt I had found the career for me. I learned a lot and met a lot of really interesting people. Things were moving along as expected down the career path or so it seemed. I had been working in a paralegal gig for quite some time at that juncture. I still enjoyed what I did. Still looked forward to coming to work each day. But if I’m really being honest….was I a little bored? Sure. A little complacent? You betcha. Playing it safe? Absolutely.
But then it all changed.
I woke up. I realized I had something to offer, share, tell, write, blog, speak about, and offer to others. I found myself writing posts, and articles, responding to e-mails, blogging, networking, and speaking at the local college, reaching out to others, joining groups, sharing experiences, building an amazing inner circle of incredibly successful people from all across the world, and working to inspire others to believe that they, too, could…and would…do whatever it is that they could…and would do. Perhaps you find yourself doing many of these same things. Perhaps you are a mover and shaker. There are plenty of them out there. Some truly amazing people doing some really remarkable things in the arenas all around us. Yet, most of us find ourselves sitting in that potential sucking stadium, previously described above. Maybe you’re “too busy.” Perhaps you “don’t have time.” You aren’t sure what you have to offer to others or where you would fit in. If so — there’s something I’d like to ask you.
What are you waiting on?
Who is waiting on you?
What is on that list of the things you “cannot” do?
You will do them. You must. It’s time to enter the arena. It’s time to show yourself what you’re really made of, and more importantly, who you are. It’s time to step out of the shadow of anonymity, and into a professional association, a meeting, classroom, local Panera with an aspiring student, onto the pages of a paralegal publication via an article or into a local classroom to speak of your experiences to share who you are, and what only you can share with the world.
I don’t care if you’re a student, teacher, trainer, manager, mentor, mentee, paralegal, legal secretary, receptionist, law clerk, attorney, seasoned professional or an aspiring career changer in search of the next arena. Lurking within you is immeasurable potential. A vast, personal sea of unlimited possibilities. An interesting list of potential “what if’s.” A list of things you “cannot” do…or perhaps could. To allow that potential to remain untapped would be at travesty. To allow it to shine in the world would be the most amazing thing you will ever experience.
It can all change in a singular, millisecond sliver of time; in that moment when you see, and feel your true potential calling out to you. A beautiful moment when “the real you” lets the current you know who you really are and must become. A moment when you see the person you were born to be. A moment when you fully grasp who you are, where you should be, and you take one step in that direction. That seemingly simple, life altering moment when you will stand within yourself, transcend that invisible barrier, and fully realize that you must become more than you are right now. More than you are in this moment. More than you are, as you read these words.
What you need to know is this:
You can write.
You can speak.
You can blog.
You can mentor.
You can lead.
You can be incredibly successful.
You can change people’s lives.
You can do virtually anything.
All you have to do…is step into the arena.
“It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us as it stands knocking on the door-steps of our hearts.” – K.T. Jong
“You will never come up against a greater adversary than your own potential, my young friend.” – Michael Piller & Michael Wagner
“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you are.” – Hanoch McCarty
How do you become who you are truly meant to be?
Decide what you want.
Decide who you are.
Then go after it.
STEP INTO THE ARENA.
“Don’t let anything stop you.
There will be times when
You’ll be disappointed, but you can’t stop.
Make yourself the very best that you can make of what you are.
The very best.”
– Sadie T. Alexander
FIND YOUR ARENA. FIND YOURSELF. FIND YOUR PURPOSE. DO ALL OF THE THINGS WHICH YOU CANNOT DO…AND DO THEM ALL THE WAY.