Wisdom//

My Career as a Decorator Crab

It's allowed me the freedom to seek out new adventures, collect a breadth of life experiences, and keep up with my kids’ ever changing interests.

 ImYanis/ Shutterstock
ImYanis/ Shutterstock

Things I never knew about myself before I had kids: I kind of dig dragon folklore, corn nuts make an excellent salad topping, and my career path has a lot in common with a decorator crab. There’s not much to say about the first 2 other than you should consider giving both a shot. But the third one, building a career of seemingly random collectibles, has brought me joy, challenged me to learn and yielded many rewards.

A decorator crab, as any parent who has watched Octonauts will know, thrives by collecting everything from sea kelp to sea anemone (or radars, spy glasses and bandages, as this episode illustrates) to camouflage itself from predators. It’s a classic ‘the sum is greater than its parts’ story. The true superpower of the decorator crab is its unique appearance. There aren’t any two that look the same, so they’re able to chart their own course without falling prey to some of the more obvious delectables out there.

I have been a camp counselor, an actress, an executive assistant, a marketer and an HR professional. I’ve worked in industries I’ve known nothing about and sat through countless meetings where the words and acronyms were all foreign to me. And now, as I am about to embark upon a new chapter leading a Global Enablement function (A what? Yeah, exactly…) I realize this career path of mine has not been random at all. Each opportunity has given me a chance to learn a new skillset or area of business. My journey hasn’t been linear or obvious. But it’s been uniquely mine, and the learnings have been priceless:

I was fired from being a counselor at a camp that I not only attended as a camper for 8 years, but so did my sister, cousins and Mom. I learned everyone is replaceable, and rules must be respected.

I was an actress on small and large stages, in commercials, sitcoms and talk shows. I learned that the butterflies in your stomach can be reframed as excitement, great presentation skills are always en vogue, and when you don’t know what’s going on, sometimes it’s okay to act like you do until you figure it out.

I was an executive assistant to the President of a large non-profit who had access to every C-Suite executive in town. I learned that powerful, successful people are every bit as human as the rest of us, and a good joke and quick wit can be an amazing equalizer.

As a marketer I learned that every single word matters, but words are useless without a measurable strategy.

My time in HR taught me more about the operations of business than I ever had exposure to before. More importantly, though, I learned about great leadership and the dynamics of high performing teams.

With all of these experiences attached to my shell, I don’t look like any of my peers. But that’s a-ok with me. Having the career of a decorator crab has given me great freedom to seek out new adventures and collect a breadth of life experiences that help me excel at the biggest job of them all – keeping up with my kids’ ever changing interests.

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