Being everything to everyone

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I was stopped at a traffic light today on my way home from work. Listening to the music, watching the lights and tapping my thumb lightly on the steering wheel, I looked around and something caught my eye. We have all passed this and sometimes it puts a smile on our face. What I saw was a grocery store with the following: grocery, lottery tickets, phone cards, money transfers, fax machine, photocopying, fried chicken and other such items. Some of this makes sense but others not so much. It is almost like everything in the store is an afterthought. It is also like the stall in some of the countries I have visited in Asia and the Middle East…if you ask for something and they don’t have it, within 2 minutes it materializes from another stall. They are being everything to everyone.

While I carried on driving, I thought to myself, that store has an identity problem. It really does not know what it is or what it should do…so it tries to do everything. It is reactive as opposed to proactive. If you walked in to the store and asked if they had any flip flops? They would say ‘not today’ but then carry them next week because one person needed this. I suppose this is reflective of our own selves as we try to do many things and try to figure out who we are. On the one hand, we would not want the store to sell only one item like beans, nor would we want the store to sell everything unless they were the large retail box store.

If I look at my life, to the outside world, I might seem like a chicken selling-money transferring store; however, if you really look at the things I am involved with, there is alignment and it is strategic. The authorship/book ties in with the speakers bureau that I am building out. My teaching is a continuum of the business I am working to build with others to help students and young professionals in their journey. My volunteer commitments are more pieces that attach to the overall ‘me’. What guides me to stock my personal shelf of things I do? I carry five key elements that are my foundation and they are leadership, public speaking, corporate/community relations, student development and storytelling. Each one is a critical ingredient and I have thought long and hard about each one.

It is about taking the time to see how things are related to each other and can be added together like pieces of lego. Rather than just adding the pieces together in a random way, take the time to see what you have, how do they fit together in some order and then start to build. Ask yourself…”what are the five key elements that make up who I am?” and once you start forming the words, ask yourself “why are they important to me?” Go down a path to start putting your five elements into action so you are not that random corner store trying to do/be everything.

PS – the image is from Hong Kong with ‘G’ and Hope. It is the same idea as a corner grocery store analogy…being everything to everyone.

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