Forget your “swim lane.” Run to your potential instead.

Be more than you thought you rationally could be.

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This last week, I had the privilege of speaking to the law enforcement officers of the Cal State Fullerton Police Department. A few months back, the chief of police was referred to me by a close friend. He had summarized his need for a speaker who could talk about the concepts of self-leadership and accountability, as his department was undergoing change due to his new leadership. After my friend heard his story, she thought I might be a better fit.

I spoke with the chief a couple times before I was to speak to his department, but as I got closer to the event, I made a slight tweak to the content of my talk. Months before, I had pondered whether I should add a talk on overcoming adversity and maintaining a positive mindset to my speaking lineup. I grappled with doing so because I am a big believer that a strong brand-value proposition starts with focused messaging. I didn’t want to confuse people. “Stay in your swim lane,” if you know what I mean.

Then, as I sat down to outline my talk and reviewed my conversation notes once again, it was glaringly clear that I needed to focus on the idea that a positive mindset produces more positive behaviors and better results. I didn’t obtain a degree or any type of certificate to come to this conclusion. 

I had lived this, and it’s the best education one can receive. I felt confident that this was the more relevant message. After speaking with the chief, he agreed.

Within a few days, a longtime client of mine reached out and asked whether I could change a talk I was giving to her management team on employee loyalty to one focusing on overcoming adversity. I could not believe it! I am a person of faith. This was more than just a coincidence. I was called to move in this direction.

Does that mean that I need to walk away from my current area of focus? 

Absolutely not. 

That is what I struggled to understand. Here is the thing: We are complex creatures. Our interests expand past one interest point or focus area or topic. An engineer can be a musician. A doctor can be a pilot. A model can be an astute business person. We are only limited by what we tell ourselves.

While brand focus is important, equally important is that we not leave any of our talents or our stories on the table for fear of breaking some sort of an unwritten rule.

I create my own life. I am only limited by me. My path will not always be clear, but I will be open to discovering all the nuances of who I was meant to be. I will help people and organizations do the same.

As I stood in front of a crowded room of police officers to deliver my speech for the first time, I was not nervous. I felt confident that this was the message I was meant to deliver on this day and at this exact time. I know that I will deliver it to another group in a few days, and I am jumping out of myself with excitement that this message will change the lives of those who hear it.

My story, the foundation of this speech, unfolded for a reason. This was not an accident. I am humbled that others can learn from it.

When others tell you to stay in your swim lane. I would recommend that you be open to widening it.

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