Episode 11 – Choose, Choose Again

January 25, 2023

I was reading something one of my pals wrote. She’s a great writer. Her name’s Naheima Cabrol-Guiocheau on Facebook and Instagram. She wrote a book called Surfing for Meaning. It hasn’t been published yet but she drops these beautiful essays into her social media. In this case, she was telling this story of growing up in France. She played all different sports, but she didn’t excel at any of them. She really loved soccer, but she didn’t get much field time. She tells this story about finally being asked to play and being really excited. Then while playing, there came a point when she was supposed to throw the ball back onto the field from the sidelines. She’s thinking to herself ‘oh my gosh, this is my moment.’ Then she throws the ball into the field, her teammate kicks it back to her and she said she just went nuts. She was thinking ‘oh my gosh, this is my moment to make my coach proud of me. I’m going to give it my all.’  Well, she goes barreling down the field with this increasing sense that she’s going make a goal. She just knows she’s going to make that goal. Then she gets all the way down the field and just as she’s about to score, she looks up squarely in the face of the goalie who is her teammate.  She’s been running in the wrong direction. In that instant, she realized that everybody’s been screaming at her trying to tell her that she’s going in the wrong direction. In her post, she talks about how embarrassing and humiliating, and also how scary it was.

Anyway, it’s beautifully written and it got me thinking about what happens to us when we’ve set out for some big goal, determined to give it our all. Disciplined and working hard to achieve something that we want, only to get there and realize either that it’s not all that we cooked it up to be in our mind. Or, much more common, that we don’t want it anymore. We outgrow this thing that we work so hard to achieve, and it can be incredibly disconcerting. The first example of this that comes to my mind is partners in law firms. The carrot dangles in front of you – the prestige, the remuneration mechanisms, etc. You get it.

It reminded me of this story. I was working for Gucci.  I was in Florence. I was trying to work my way up ,and I was negotiating really hard with the head of human resources. Really pushing my luck in terms of title and salary. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I will never forget the lesson. The HR executive looked at me and said, Constance, don’t forget every point of arrival is a departure point. Ogni punto di arrivo e’ un punto di partenza is how we’d say it in Italian. But I want to go back to this moment of achievement –  professional and otherwise –  when we either feel lost or really afraid of not knowing what else we could do or what would happen if we changed our mind or decided to walk away from something we’d been working on for years and years and years.

I did it myself, in fact. It was hugely liberating when I walked away from my business Scout Talent. I felt so liberated and free. I just wanted to scream it from the rafters and tell everybody that they had a choice that they could make. They could actually change their mind. But I soon realized that it’s something that you can’t really share with others. It’s a process. It’s this process of coming to your quiet place of reflection, courage, discernment, choice, and agency. It’s all of those things. It’s a process that everybody has to go through on their own. You can’t really teach it to anyone.. I have a lot of language for the things that I went through now, but it’s all in the rear-view mirror.

I remember sitting on the couch for months on end, not knowing exactly what I was doing. I would create these little projects for, but the truth of the matter is I was completely in the depths of uncertainty.

Anyway, I am changing the subject just for a minute. Just this morning, I was looking at my notes from an incredible lecture I went to on Friday. It was Maria Papova at Creative Mornings here at the Ethical Society in New York City. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Maria Papova. She has a really famous blog. It was called Brain Pickings for many years now it’s called Marginalia. She’s an author and essayist and poet. She’s like a writer of literary and arts commentary and cultural criticism. One of the things I wrote down from the lecture was this: the most vulnerable thing in the world is not knowing.

I had never heard that exactly, but I did feel it. I did experience it, and I did feel incredibly uncomfortable. I called it uncertainty, but it wasn’t that I wasn’t certain. It was that I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was willing to dance with not knowing. I think that goes back to my conviction that I really wanted to live a life of curiosity and not a fear-based existence. And walking away from my quote unquote success and everything I had built was part of that process. Anyway, as they say, you have to go through it.  Enough of that.

I want to end with the last words that Naheima wrote in her beautiful essay.  Yes. Our decisions are consequential, good or bad.   But wonderfully enough, they don’t have to have the last word.  What follows does.  Restoring what makes us feel alive may be a long road, but it’s in the right direction.

That kind of reminds me of that famous sign that we’ve seen posted all over the world where there’s a fork in the road and you have to choose which road you’re going to take, and as I like to say, choose, choose again.

That’s all for now. Until next time. From my heart to yours.

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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“Speaking with Constance helped me to see myself  – and my experience –with fresh perspective.  I got great clarity and completely shifted gears. She totally got it. The experience fully re-energized me.”

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