Fawn Germer has traveled the world to speak to organizations including but not limited to Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co., Cisco, Novartis, NASA, Boeing, and Motorola. She also spent some time as a journalist covering higher education and was our 2015 Closing Keynote Speaker.
Please read Fawn’s blog below – Knowing Your Path (and Staying on It)
Every time I have veered off my intended path, it has been a mistake. A huge, miserable learning experience that I could have avoided if I’d just listened to that voice inside of me that said, “I. Don’t. Want. This.”
You cannot achieve balance if you are not true to your own personal path. You can make a situation functional, but not harmonious. Granted, there are times when you have to sacrifice harmony for function. If your spouse is diagnosed with cancer, you aren’t going to walk off your miserable job and away from your insurance and paycheck until things settle down.
But know your path. Your destiny.
Soon after my first book was published, I was asked to be the senior editor of the alternative newspaper in Tampa. I was reluctant, but a close friend was going to be my boss, and she urged me to just try it. “If you don’t like it,” she said, “you can quit.”
Hard Won Wisdom had just been on Oprah and was just starting to take off, but I didn’t know how successful it would be or whether I was ever going to be able to turn “that speaker thing” into a viable career. What I knew was that I was being offered a weekly paycheck, health insurance, and the stability and financial security that had eluded me for nearly three years since I’d quit my job as a journalist to write my book.
It had been so long since I’d worked a job that the first day felt like it lasted for two months. I kept checking my watch. It’s 2:07 p.m., 2:19 p.m., 2:23 p.m. — it was one of the longest days in my whole life, and things didn’t get any better after that.
The politics of that company would wind up being the worst I’d ever seen, and there was a real saboteur in our midst. While my boss/friend was one of the best bosses I’d ever had, I was so miserable that I looked ill. I was hunched over. I couldn’t sleep.
After seven insufferable weeks, a close friend called me at work and said, “I think you need to read Hard Won Wisdom.” She was joking about sending me to the self-help book I’d written, but I did exactly what she suggested and turned right to the page with my most important interview, with world-famous oceanographer Sylvia Earle, known as “Her Deepness.” Earle’s discussion of how we will never achieve our potential if we can’t take risks was what motivated me to quit my journalism job in the first place.
I read the lines, “Many people resist risk and are only comfortable with the security of knowing, when they go to sleep at night, what the next day is going to be like. That’s comforting. It’s secure. And living like that is a choice they are free to make. … Risk is a choice. It is the only way to test your potential.”
After I read that quote, I walked into my friend’s office and quit.
She was stunned.
All these years later, she’d be the first to say that what happened was inevitable. I was destined to follow the path that led me to where I am, sitting here on a glorious Saturday, writing my eighth book and enjoying every single minute of it.
It’s funny how, even though I have had these light bulb moments, I still get sidetracked. In the years since that decision, there were two times when I stepped off the path, and both times, it was a mistake.
I have learned to always listen to the voice that tells me where I should be walking. There is no tranquility or balance in my life when I am off course. I have occasionally taken a side trip off my path — usually to do something that seemed at the moment to be painless and lucrative — but it has been a mistake every time, either zapping my spirit or compromising my ability to take care of my own business.
Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of eight books and an internationally acclaimed keynote speaker. Visit her at fawngermer.com.