By GGTW Co-founder and contributing editor Tricia Yacovone-Biagi
As I waited to board a plane in Baltimore-Washington International Airport a couple months ago, I heard an amazing, melodious baritone voice announce the status of our flight and which boarding numbers should expect to be called any minute. This gate agent’s voice demanded attention, not because of its authority, but because of how darn good it sounded. His was a voice that bettered those of many professional DJ’s or sports announcers, and I enjoyed listening to how he transformed an otherwise mundane experience into something memorable.
A few minutes later, as he scanned my boarding pass, I told him how much I appreciated his voice. I wondered if he had received voice training or had a second job where he used his voice talent. He said he was indeed trying to get into the performance industry, that’s why he gave his all every time he picked up the microphone, albeit in one of the busier airports in America. He said, “You just never know who’s listening.” I wished him luck, told him I appreciated his attitude, and boarded the plane.
I started thinking about what he said, and how we never really know who might be listening, or where our journeys through life will take us. Sure, we make plans and may even follow them, but there always seems to be a degree of randomness that intercedes and sets our path on a different trajectory than we expect. Imagine how boring life would be if everything happened exactly as planned!
It’s exciting to go in new directions, especially when they seem to occur by happenstance. In fact, ‘serendipity’ is one of my favorite words in the English language. Defined as “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way,” serendipity is more than just luck (which our friend Nick Potts would say is not what it seems anyway), but there’s no doubt that there’s a kind of randomness associated with it that planning or logic cannot explain. Like the stories of people who were late for a plane that ended up crashing, or the ones whose belongings were somehow miraculously spared in a natural disaster. In those cases, you really never would know that missing a plane would end up saving your life.
Sometimes the effect of serendipity is more subtle and less obvious right away. You may go into a field because it’s the job you can get immediately and you have bills to pay. Then you end up rising through the ranks and getting an advanced degree in that field because you found that you liked it. Or, you find out about a job opening at a startup in a location you like so you give it a shot. Then it ends up being your career for decades. Or, you may take a job doing something tangentially related to what you studied. Think studio artists who end up in advertising, psychologists who work in sales, or musicians who install audio systems. Those jobs may end up leading to introductions to other career opportunities or experiences that help you define or clarify your future in new ways.
In fact, when Michelle Obama was unhappy with her career choice, her own mother told her, “Make the money. Worry about being happy later.” And it’s true that there is a lot of freedom that comes from having a nest egg in the bank. Having your basic needs met allows your muse to guide your steps. But since you have to do something in life, why not make the best of what you have in front of you right now?
Work hard. Stay focused. Luck or serendipity will only get you so far. The rest is up to you. Like the gate agent at BWI who presented his best stage voice even though his job didn’t require it, always work hard and stay focused on your dream no matter where the random twists and turns of life take you. You never know who might be watching or listening or taking notice of your work ethic, your positive attitude, or your amazing voice. Now, go get the world!