By Michael Ross, Founding Partner, ROAMcare
The saying “everything happens for a reason” perhaps should be “every one happens for a reason.” We all have our purpose, and that purpose is ours alone. We do not do anything like anybody else. Even when given explicit instructions, we still do it in our own ways. We are unique. There is only one of each of us. One.
The 2021 Oscar nominations were announced recently. I’ve checked out all the entertainment news outlets and I have yet to see an article about an actor who had turned down one of the nominated roles. Eventually I will. You can count on it happening at least once every year. When I do see that article, the interview likely will start with the actor saying, “That could have been me.” Some of those actors who also happen to be good people will joke about missing out on a possible award winning role. They will say, “Oh yeah, that could have been me. As the line goes, ‘I coulda been a contender,‘ but I’d not have been half as good.” Others, not so magnanimous cannot imagine how they would not have been equally honored with a nomination. Their opening statement will be, “That could have been me. That should have been me!” They are sure they would have not only been nominated but certainly awarded for the best performance. It is unthinkable that hard work and superior skill might have contributed to the nomination.
We may all have had some moment in life where we made a decision to do or not to do. Had we instead not done or done, life may have been significantly different. We fell victim to the shoulda, coulda, woulda syndrome. If I had gone to that school, if I had taken that job, if I had played that game, if I had married that person – then I would be the one with the book deal, the corner office, the vacation home, or the beautiful children. We know it was not the school or the job or the partner that made any of those things happen. It was the effort put in by the people in those positions. In truth, when we made those decisions to do or not to do, we already set into motion something significant. If our effort would have been great enough to be of value going down one path, it also would have been going down another.
Years ago, I saw a poster I shoulda bought. I’m sure it woulda made all the difference. I coulda had it on the wall to remind me to take the right path, which woulda been remarkable because in truth, it said, I shoulda not taken any path. Did you figure it out? Was it Robert Frost exhorting me to take the road less traveled? No, my poster bore Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” It’s not the role that makes me me. It’s how I fill it.
I’m not a contender. I’m a winner. (Hey, so are you!)