Kerry O'Shea Gorgone, Learning Designer at MarketingProfs, podcast host, aspiring guitarist
This will come as a jarring surprise to people who know me now, but I was fairly pliable as a kid. I joined the school band because my best friend said I should. I played the flute in band because that's what the band teacher said they needed. (He probably changed his mind about that once he heard me play. But by then I had rented the flute, so he was stuck with me.)
I always gravitated toward creative pursuits. I wrote poetry and short stories, as well as the required essays and themes for school. I sang, I acted in drama club, and I had the best time doing a school project that had me conducting on-camera interviews with school staff.
Still, when it was time to choose a college, I went to business school. I thought I should. Because it's practical.
I got my MBA, then continued on to law school. My natural abilities (writing, interviewing, persuasion, public speaking) seemed to lend themselves to the profession, so I thought I should. I graduated first in my class, but practicing law doesn't leave much time for creative pursuits.
As I grew older, I cared less and less what other people thought I "should" do. In fact, I've decided that, for the most part, I don't like the word "should" at all. Either I want to do something or I don't. That approach to choices makes the "yes / no" decision on new activities much easier for me.
Eventually, this realization that I could do what I wanted instead of what I "should" led me to transition from practicing law to teaching, then from teaching to training. Along the way, I rekindled my love of interviewing and became host of the Marketing Smarts podcast. That went a long way towards fueling my need to do creative work.
Then, last year, MarketingProfs issued a challenge to employees: spend 5 hours a week learning something new. I was so excited by the possibilities! And then I mentioned it to some of my friends.
"You know what you should do," they said, "you should learn to code. That will be so useful!"They were right, of course. Knowing how to code would be useful. But I bristled at the idea of doing something practical just because I "should."
So I didn't.
"I don't care what I should do," I thought. "What I want to do is play the guitar."
I had never played a musical instrument apart from my ill-fated foray into flute playing. But my brother had played the guitar while I was growing up, and he always seemed so cool. "That's what I want to do," I thought. "I want to play the guitar!"
Over the years, we had acquired two guitars, which sat in dusty cases in an upstairs closet. I pulled one down and hauled it in to my first lesson with Jason Jordan of Nashville. (I'd seen his YouTube videos and knew he was the right instructor for me!) I forgot that it was Halloween, and I was already in my costume. My Harley Quinn get-up must have really upped the cool factor, especially when I said, "Jason, I don't even know how I'm supposed to hold a guitar!"
Lucky for me, Jason is patient and has a great sense of humor. Since Halloween, I've learned chords and tabbing, practiced pieces of songs from "Amazing Grace" to "Beat it" and "Landslide" to "Jessie's Girl!"
The part I love best about this is that my kids see me trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and succeeding, week after week, month after month. Little by little, I'm learning to play the guitar. "You sound great, Mama," they encourage me.
Little liars. But they're sweet.
With this one challenge, they've learned two things from me: first, do what you want, not what people say you "should" do, and second, it's okay to look silly and it's okay to fail while you try something new. Just keep at it and, eventually, you'll get better! Very, very eventually... in my case.
I'm going to preach #mpb2b on the top of a mountain to everyone. Fantastic conference.
—Insurance Industry Marketer
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