I have the great pleasure of working with young people. They are so full of promise and potential as they stand at the threshold of their adult lives.
Sometimes, though, I’ll see a young person struggle with the belief that before they set out for their dream they must first know the precise plan to follow and its exact outcome.
Part of the work I do is to help such a person understand that not knowing is OK; it’s not even necessary. And I help them realize that their unique gift is always right there with them; though they might have a little trouble recognizing it. Because sometimes it looks very different than what they were expecting.
That was certainly the case for me…
“You!A model??…You’re kidding, right?”
As if it was yesterday, I can still remember the stunned look on her face as I gathered up my courage and admitted my dream to a close high school friend.
But I wasn’t kidding. Not only would I become a model, but I had every intention of becoming the world’s next supermodel (though I decided that moment probably wasn’t the best time to share this particular detail with my friend).
In fairness to her, I should say that most people would have been hard pressed to share my vision. I was by anyone’s account less than, shall we say, “glamorous”.
Actually I was about as far away from glamorous as one could get. Yes, I was taller than everyone I knew, including the boys in my school. But I was also rail thin, freckle-faced, with frizzy hair and braces. Oh, and did I mention awkward and painfully shy?
No matter. I knew I was going to ‘make it’; it was only a question of time.HowI would make it was something else entirely. The truth was, I had no idea how I would get from my small town school to the covers of the world’s top fashion magazines.
But therein lays the true power of pursuing your dream. It begins with seeing your destination clearly and starting to move towards it, even if you can’t say for sure how you will reach it.
Bob Proctor has compared this to driving at night on a dark road and I agree. All you can ever see is 200 feet at a time by the glow of the headlights, but that’s enough to advance you the next 200 feet, and so on all the way to your destination.
Sometimes you may take a fork in the road and discover that your destination changes as a result, and that’s OK too. In fact if my name is not a household word today, that’s because my own destination changed along the way.
Don’t misunderstand–I fully expected to be the world’s next supermodel and I did all I knew how towards that end. But early on I realized one crucial fact–I’m not particularly photogenic. And when it comes to supermodels, being very photogenic is pretty much ‘Square One’.
The ‘light of my headlights’ had brought me to the awareness that I would not be an international cover girl. This was a blow to both my ego and my plans. But because I had begun the ‘drive’, I was about to discover something about myself I hadn’t realized beforehand.
My ‘fork in the road’ presented itself to me a while later in San Francisco, where I was attempting to get a modeling job, or ‘booking’–any booking–in print work. I would have been happy to appear in a flyer for the local car wash, but no client seemed to want me.
Then one day Calvin Klein himself came to town to put on a gala fashion show at the San Francisco Opera House. He brought with him several models from New York, but he was holding a casting to select a few local models as well.
Any girl in San Francisco who called herself a model was there, including the most successful and in-demand print models I was trying so hard to emulate.
I remember my interview with Calvin Klein. He was smiling and gracious. He asked me to try something on and walk for him, and I did. Then, I watched as his smile grew wider and he booked me on the spot!
And then came the evening of the show. Everything changed for me on that runway. I felt totally natural, at ease and inspired there. I could sense that I had found my ‘true place’.
Afterwards people came backstage and asked me where I’d learned to walk like that. I answered, “I don’t know!” and it was true. I didn’t know because I’d never done it before!
All this time I’d been trying with all my might to be a cover girl when it was now clear that runway was my gift. But I never would have known that had I not believed in my original dream and started moving towards it as best I could, ‘200 feet at a time’.
Soon afterwards I moved to Europe where, unlike San Francisco, ‘high fashion’ was the look and the runway market was very strong. I went first to Milan and then to Paris, where I still live today.
Ultimately I became an international high fashion runway model, working with top designers such as Armani, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, and many others. I enjoyed a fantastic career spanning more than a decade.
I travelled to over 50 countries and have done shows before royalty and heads of state. I met some of the world’s most interesting and fascinating people; some of them rich and famous, some completely unknown but rich in other ways.
And I got the education of a lifetime.
None of this would have happened if I had been ‘stuck’ on just one possible outcome and continued to try and become a top international cover girl at all costs. As Ken Keesey Jr. says “To be upset about what we don’t have is to waste what we do have.”
Each of us has what I call a ‘Unique Package’; that singular combination of our unique inner and outer selves. And through that package comes our gifts.
Discovering what our gifts are and then expressing and sharing them is what we’re all here for. There are no ‘better’ sets of gifts and talents. They are all needed. We are all needed.
Or as the French say, “Il faut de tout pour faire un monde,” which translated means, “It takes everyone to make a world.”
The dream you have inside is not there by accident. There’s a reason it’s calling to you.
I firmly believe that if you’ll step onto the path of your dream, always giving your best, the Universe will step up and meet you more than half way.
And even if your destination changes, as did mine, I can promise you this:
You will definitely have more, do more and above all bemore, for having made the journey.