Monday, April 17, 2006

Be Daring... Be Different...Be Impractical

“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” - Cecil Beaton.

Years ago, even though it didn’t fit the norm in the socio-economic world I grew up in, I pursued my passions. I was very, very lucky that I came from a home that supported learning, and even though I’m sure my parents didn’t always understand the path I embarked on, they supported me through it as they saw how passionate I was about it. So unlike the other ‘girls’ I grew up with who went on to university to study science, teaching, the arts….I dove into my passion; music. I was already living the world of a performing musician, practicing as many hours as I could fit in, auditioning for the Montreal Junior Symphony until I could get good enough and hopefully a position in a ‘real’ orchestra, though the MJS really did work us hard.

Now before you think this wasn’t altogether outside the realm of normalcy, let me add that my instrument(s) were percussion; definitely not the norm for a female in those times. It was me up against 17 guys who all wanted to vie for the same 3 positions. Competitive didn’t begin to describe it. We practiced until 2:00, 3:00 in the morning and then had to be in class for 7:00. I had more hours of class, rehearsal and performance time than my brother did in medicine. It was hard to be different, definitely wasn’t a practical profession to go into, and really was out of the ordinary. But I loved every minute of it.

And I achieved my dream of obtaining a position in an orchestra as well as smaller, well-established groups where concerts were sold out the moment the tickets were put on sale. It was an intense life and a lifetime ago.

Life steered me in a different direction and guided me to become a coach. Do I regret it for a minute? No. Again I was on the cutting edge, learning coaching skills and techniques well before there was a CoachVille, an International Coach Federation or even the professional term coaching used outside the world of sports. We created as we learned, brainstormed until our heads were about to explode….and tried to describe what we were doing in terms that didn’t exist yet. Still, if there is any profession where one never plays it safe it’s coaching. That’s probably my biggest challenge when I’m speaking to groups, teaching or mentoring someone who is embarking on this profession. If we can’t stay two steps ahead of current trends and the ‘norm’, help clients see beyond what they already know, then we’re not doing them a service.

One of the many reasons why I love the opening quote isn’t necessarily because it describes my life to a ‘T’, which it does, but because it asserts integrity of purpose and imaginative vision in everything I do, live, think and believe in. Because I can do that and show my clients how to embrace that into their lives, they will never be slaves to the ordinary as their lives will no longer resemble ordinary. They reach for the sky, no barriers, no roadblocks; they just fly.

One of my favourite expressions (and what I do) is “diving into the deep end of each day”. Magic and the extraordinary does exist in our every day lives when we take the time to notice, embrace it and welcome it.

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome 78th country subscriber from Lebanon!

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