I booked career presentation number 500 today, or at least close to number 500! I admit it’s not a perfect science.
Not sure why it struck a sentimental cord with me but it did. Maybe it has to do with my being 53 years of age, the changing of seasons or watching my kids grow up faster than wheat in Melville, Saskatchewan. Worth noting, Melville was named for Charles Melville Hays, former General Manager of the Grand Trunk Railway which, if you know your 1970’s music, inspired the name of one of the greatest bands ever, Grand Funk Railroad. How is that for a water cooler fact!
Okay, I digress. So, why am I all sentimental? I believe it has to do with my sitting down and thinking back on the presentations that transcended time and stayed with me. Presentations that stood out. Presentations that gave me more than I offered.
I always loved presenting and coaching people up. I didn’t think it would become a full time gig until the spring of 1989.
As a member of the Ottawa Rough Riders, I was often called on to host or attend events the organization would run or support. My boss at the time, Jo-Anne Polak, the only female GM in professional football and considered to be a marketing genius, decided the team should host a marquee fundraiser. With her roots in the East Coast, it made complete sense to host a lobster dinner. Great idea? To be honest, it was a good idea but to suggest it was great would have been a stretch. So, the team was going to host a lobster gala. The story doesn’t stop there. In addition to the team hosting the fundraiser, she suggested I serve as the event emcee and that I would work for free! Yep, no pay, which to be honest, I was okay with. Jo-Anne had become my official supplier of free game tickets so as gamblers say, her ticket supply and my working for free was a push. The wild card in all this was the very real possibility that, as my boss, she could have me traded to Winnipeg in a blink of an eye! Melville, SK I could kind of live with but Winterpeg? Umm…No. So, I really had no say in the matter so far. Then things took an interesting turn.
Remember the part about her being a marketing genius? This is where the genius comes into play. She suggests I emcee the event in a….wait for it….lobster suit!
At first, I irresponsibly and irrationally said, “Sure, what the hell.”. Then the reality began to set in along with the discomfort. I had no worry about serving as emcee but had some hesitation when it came to dressing as a crustacean. Now, I could have worn a suit and tie or a team sweater and pulled it off but I knew that wouldn’t work. The fact of the matter was, I had to wear the lobster suit. It was meant to be. I was meant to wear the suit the same way King Arthur was destined to bare the sword Excalibur after it was handed to him by the lady of the lake.
Many of you are likely thinking, “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” I agree and I admit that was borrowed from the movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
It doesn’t change the fact that the lobster suit and I were meant to be.
On event day, I was piped into the Civic Center Assembly Hall by the Ottawa Fire Department Pipe and Drum, and it was then that I knew somehow, someway, I would dedicate my energy toward presenting.
Rather than embarrassingly make my way to the podium on stage, I opted to walk in like I was the heavyweight champion of the world. I chose to own the room before I even entered it. Before I even said a word to the sold out audience, I knew I had won.
Initially, the suit was a tad uncomfortable but not from the perspective of fit but rather from the perspective of the experience being so new. Sure there were stares of astonishment from everyone in attendance, including teammates and my girlfriend, followed by laughter, but any concerns I had were far outweighed by what the moment brought me. Sometimes you need to stand up when everyone is sitting down. Sometimes, going with something new despite the discomfort is the way to go. Stepping out from the comfort zone and out of what we have worn in the past may be just what the doctor ordered.
Having Jo-Anne there with a smile of affirmation certainly helped as well.
The power that comes with self determination is significant to say the least.
Today, when I am not introducing, “There is an “i” in Team” concepts or tailoring client specific strategies, I am doing my best to help my children find the courage to wear their lobster suits and discard them after they have learned what they needed from them.
We are all going to spend our time doing something, so make sure it is something worth spending your time on. By doing so, you will find your “right place and right time”.
Wearing that lobster suit opened doors to experiences that went beyond my ability to catch a football.
Find your lobster suit and head upstream. You will be amazed at what you find on the horizon.
Ken Evraire is an outside of the box team builder, leadership and coaching consultant who now aspires to become a documentary producer! Stay tuned!
Ken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.