A little while ago, Michael Taylor posted a link to Rob Long's Martini Shot. That week's commentary was essentially about the power to say "no." More specifically, the power you have knowing that you don't have to bow down to the ridiculous demands of your job because you could always walk away and so something else for a living.
In theory, the more broke you are, the more power you have to change careers and walk away, therefore giving you more power than say, someone who's a top executive with employees, a family and a mortgage depending on them.
Mr. Long concludes his short, yet thoughtful piece by suggesting that all we all do a "What if?" check every once in a while. "I think it’s just good hygiene, once in a while, to ask yourself this: What would I be doing if I didn’t have to do this? Do I have to do this? Where’s my power of the alternative?"
The answer for me to those questions is simple and complicated at the same time: Yes, I have to do this. Because if I didn't have this, I would be doing nothing.
Being in this business is something I've wanted to do ever since the famed question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was asked in grade school. This isn't something I "accidentally" stumbled into like many of my other colleagues. Every move made to get me to where I am today has been a deliberate one that's been (more or less) thought out.
Other than brief thoughts of a different "career" in my younger years (when I was about 5, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher because I figured I wouldn't need to know any complicated math) working in another industry never even crossed my mind.
In all honesty, for better or for worse, I'm in this for the long run. It'll take a series of devastating, life altering events before I say goodbye to this business.
So what does this mean for me in terms of Rob Long's world of "the power of the alternative?" Does my reluctance to come up with an answer to the "What if..." question mean that I'm powerless?
Or does it mean I have even more power, but just in a different sense? I may not have the power of "no" in Mr. Long's sense of the word, but I don't think it's fair to assume I'm powerless either.
Instead, I like to think I've got the kind of power that comes with the "go big or go home" mentality. The "make it or break it" kind. I have to succeed, not because I refuse to think of an alternative, but simply because there is no alternative for me.
And in many ways, I think it's an even better kind of power than the kind you get when you have to option to say "no." It's the power to say "Yes, I can totally do this" because as corny as it sounds, failure isn't an option.