Tony Robbins, you say? Tony Robbins, the toothy, tall-haired self-help guru of the '90s? He of the ubiquitous life seminars, personal growth tapes and Personal Power workbooks? Yup. Him.
Years ago, his face, with its long-tooth, almost predatory smile, was inescapable--it peered out at passersby from bookshelves, billboards, and late night infomercials. Tony Robbins was part of the background landscape of my life, like the Mazda Miatas that zoomed around on the freeways and the self-consciously sarcastic TV shows like "Roseanne" that were so popular at the time. Back then, I always smirked at him. I was in my 20s in the 90s, Tony Robbin's heyday, and was pretty certain I already knew everything. I figured anyone who'd buy into the change-your-life schtick he was selling was a loser and I had no use for them anyway.
Now that I actually have some real life experience under my belt, I'm a gentler judge of character than I was back when I thought everything--relationships, career, the world--was all about me. I realize now that many people do find themselves stuck at various points in their lives. Learning techniques to move forward is far better than wallowing in inertia. Some people take community college courses. Others go to therapy. Still others find a guru, ala Tony Robbins (actually, I believe he goes by Anthony Robbins these days). And people like me, try to muddle through it on their own.
For about a year I've been muddling. The girls are older and don't need me as much, my frantic days of volunteering are mostly behind me (I have taken a sacred, cannot-under-pain-of-death-be-broken vow to never be the committee head of a silent auction/dinner dance again), and I can only have so many lunches with friends before feeling useless (not to mention bloated). I do have things going on--I'm co-authoring a cookbook, plus working on a spec article for Runner's World about youth running clubs--but I've still felt that I haven't moved forward with my life for a very long time.
I suspect, from the casual and sometimes intense conversations I've had with friends, that many people are in a similar situation. At least, I'm reassured, I'm not alone.
So what to do? That is the questions I've been wrestling with for the better part of a year. How to move forward. Then, last night, in a rare conversation with my husband (the man is so busy at work he rarely has time to eat dinner, let alone engage in long conversations with the likes of me) the answer--at least, what I think may be the answer--revealed itself.
Acknowledge your strengths, and build upon them. Let everything else go.
Seems obvious, I know. But let's delve into it a little deeper. I'll be the subject. My greatest strengths are writing and interacting (on both a social and professional level) with people. I'm also pretty good at art, public relations, and marketing. I make a fair pass at decorating and design, too. And therein lies the problem for me--and for most people in my situation, I suspect. I'm pretty good at alot of things--but don't really excel at any. The reason I don't excel in one particular area is because I haven't focused on developing any one talent. I've been all over the board--I've taken art classes, writing classes, I've made abortive attempts at re-starting the public relations consulting business I had when I was in my 20s, I started a less-than-successful mural painting business. And the result is that I haven't made any forward progress. I've been floundering around in a mess of my own creation.
And last night, Dave gently suggested I let it all go--and just pick one thing, one thing, to strengthen. And once I'd pick that one thing, I'd need to commit to it. So that's the decision I've made. And when I brainstormed by list of strengths, the top one was writing. And since I have already started (albeit a short way) down that path, I will (try to) let the other things fall to the wayside and put my effort into building my writing muscle. That's not to say I won't still paint the mural or two. But instead of scattering my efforts around in alot of places, I'm going to pull them in and focus on the main thing.
Sort of like Michael Jordan. I know--not exactly a right-on comparison, but it will do to underscore my point. Basketball legend. Tried baseball--not as good. Tried golf. Not his true thing either. So it was back to basketball, where arguably he should have stayed all along.
And as for Tony Robbins--ahem, Anthony Robbins--while you won't find me at any of his seminars any time soon, I have to admit that the daily affirmations that come across in his Twitter feed are pretty encouraging. And I guess when it comes down to it, when you're stuck in a rut, sometimes one of the most important tools to get yourself out of it is a belief in yourself--and a bit of encouragement from others.