“You’re too old for this, Liz,” I’d told myself. As crazy as it seemed, the idea just kept coming back to me. So I jumped, literally. I went skydiving for the first time in my life. Free falling from 13,000 feet at 120mph for the first 60 seconds. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time!
Even more terrifying than skydiving? Launching a business in my 50’s! Being an entrepreneur was never on my radar. I felt like I was jumping off of a cliff, hoping there would be a parachute. At least when I leaped out of the airplane, I knew I had a parachute.
“Don’t forget to breathe.” That advice was given to me by a solo jumper. Her words echoed in my head as I started doing a somersault in the air. “Just breathe Liz, just breathe…” I began laughing to myself because, ironically, as an executive communications coach now, that is what I am always telling my clients to do! Just breathe!
When I launched Brunner Communications, I reflected back on how my professional life had unfolded. With a music education degree in hand, I taught high school choral music for two years and sang semi-professionally on the side. When my contract ended, I chose not to return, believing deeply there was something more I was supposed to do, though I didn’t know what. Intrigued by television, I bravely found my way into that world, learned everything on the job, and went on to have a 28-year award-winning career as a main news anchor/reporter/host. With the launch of my business, I have come full-circle; I am a “teacher,” a coach, once again. As I connected all the dots, familiar themes and patterns began to emerge. I am a storyteller, a communicator, whether the outlet is through song, on the nightly news, or on stage as a motivational speaker.
My grandmother used to say “no knowledge is ever wasted” and boy was she right!
I learned to recreate myself from one career chapter to the next by using all of my life experiences, all of my knowledge. I call it “recreation,” as opposed to reinvention, because to me it’s about “connecting the dots” of all of our life experiences, the good, the bad, the successes and failures, and transferring all of the skills we’ve honed to create our next chapter. Reinvention often means taking yourself in a completely new direction. I must admit, as a first time business owner, I have learned a lot of new skills, but my philosophy has been and always will be: just because you have never done something, it doesn’t mean you can’t. You just have to try!
Was it a risk to leave my high school teaching job not knowing what I would do next? Yes! Was I scared to get into television with little to no experience? Of course! I was absolutely petrified to start a business, but, for me, if fear was the only thing standing in my way, that wasn’t a good enough reason. I jumped. I took a risk, and each and every time I did, I recreated myself into my next chapter. I have used all of the knowledge, all of the skills, all of the talents with which I believe I have been blessed to create each and every next chapter and to live my best authentic life.
I have enjoyed every chapter, but the rewards today have been more than I could possibly imagine. I’m passionate about being a coach because it’s transformational. I see the growth in my clients and the confidence that builds within them. And then, when they see it, too? That’s the best feeling in the world.
We live in a time where staying in a single company for an entire career is no longer the norm. We live in a time of reinvention. So, no matter how settled, how happy, how successful you are in your career, keep your mind open to a next chapter. How could you recreate yourself? How could you live your best life?
It may feel like jumping off of a cliff, but, remember, no knowledge is ever wasted. Reflect on your life. Connect the dots. Discover the themes and patterns. You just might be surprised at the exciting next chapters you can create for yourself.
Liz Brunner is the Founder and CEO of Brunner Communications, which assists high-profile individuals and organizations in developing powerful, meaningful, and desirable brand identities. Through customized training, either one-on-one or in workshops/seminars, clients learn the necessary skills to become great communicators and build a marketable reputation. In addition to working with clients, Liz continues to make media and public speaking appearances.