I looked up a little bewildered. The voice belonged to David Hall, the president of the cable network I worked for. Here he was, the head Honcho himself leaning out of his car window and calling to me, the security guard at the gate.
“Yes, sir” I eventually replied and took a step toward his car. “I hear you’re a writer.” Pause – “Yes, sir.” “Come see me on Monday. I have a job for you.” Now a rather pregnant pause – “Yes sir, I will.” Hall’s window rolled back up as he drove away, and the gate (and my jaw) hung open in disbelief.
What was I thinking at that moment? First, he knew my name – amazing! Second, he knew I was a writer—again amazing, and I’m not sure how. And third, he just offered me a job. So, on Monday, I walked into his office and found out that I would be a writer for the Nashville Now show on TNN. Nashville Now, the flagship program for the network, was a live, 90-minute variety show broadcast five nights a week. It had all the best and hottest country artists of today and yesteryear performing their hit songs. And I was going to be the writer!
There was only one small hiccup… I knew nothing about writing for television! I watched a lot, but that was it. My training was in writing plays and musicals, not jokes, lead-ins, or introductions. Still, before I got in my own way, I heard myself saying, “Thank you. I would be thrilled.” This was an amazing opportunity and an exciting (frightening) challenge. But I was confident that I could leap (into the job) and then learn (how to do the job well). So, for the next year and a half, that’s what I did.
Why did this “fall into my lap”? There were a couple of reasons, I believe. I was personable in my job as a security guard. I had a good work ethic. And I was pro-active—I took action. People knew that I had moved to Nashville to be a writer. What they didn’t know—I guess—was that my focus and training was on plays and songs, not television. But to them, a writer is a writer. And how do you back away from such an opportunity? You can’t, and I didn’t. I took the leap, and I learned.
TAKING THE LEAP
- The first thing you need to have is faith in yourself. Then, you need to have the courage to go out on that limb, pick up the gauntlet, or lose sight of the land.
- Next, believe that you have the basic skills required to leap. That’s why I always kept learning (and still do today).
- Lastly, see this as an opportunity, a huge opportunity. How many have struggled for years to get what you’ve just been offered?
THEN BE READY TO LEARN
- This unbelievable opportunity comes with a huge learning curve. So, do your homework, not only on the job itself, but also on the people you’ll be working for and with, and the company as a whole. Are there expectations and timelines you need to know about?
- Next, be eager and open to learn. You are not a pro at this. (At least, I wasn’t when they handed me the pen.) However, people are always willing to help someone open to learning how to do the job well.
- Find a mentor. You can learn a lot on your own, but you can learn so much more from someone who has been there, done that, and knows some of the ropes.
- Finally, always project the right positive attitude. People with a positive attitude make more friends, work well with others, and always do their best. People will notice that.
When an unexpected challenge arises, don’t think of it as a frightening proposition, but rather as an exciting challenge and opportunity. If you take the chance and leap, you will learn; and discover how much you really can do.