You never really know where your life is going to take you.
This is one of the many conversations I've been having lately with my son Spencer as he prepares to leave High School in June and begins his own life's journey of discovering his own interests and making his own personal choices. I know he'll find his way and it's exciting for us both, to see what direction life's path will lead him on.
It's hard to believe that half his lifetime ago, he was 9 years old and 5'6". By the time he graduates, he'll be 18 and he's already standing at 6'5" today!
I know from my own life experience, I never would have imagined when I left high school 35 years ago that I'd end up pursuing the career that I ultimately have. Where I ended up and what I ended up doing was completely unplanned and nowhere on my personal radar. My life's path and profession really came about through a series of circumstances and some risk-taking on my part. For those of you who know me now, it would be hard for you to believe that the younger version of me was a terribly shy person. The first step out of my shell was trying out for a college play with the encouragement of a friend. In my audition, I ended up surprising myself and getting the part! Looking back, I actually did pretty well. From there, my confidence skyrocketed and I was forced outside my comfort zone. Many things that I'd previously thought impossible, now seemed within my grasp. So step 1 down my new path all started with a simple college play.
While a student at Eastern Washington University, I had a chance meeting with Mitch Silver. At the time, he owned a small collector car auction company and he was also a professor at the school I was attending. He offered me an internship. I accepted. Step 2. Check.
It was the late 80's and the collector car market was just exploding and Mitch was in the perfect position to ride its wave. Being in the auction business, you have to be a jack-of-trades of sorts. Luckily, I found I liked being on the auction block; so I was offered the job of description reader. Basically, you read a description of the car that's on the auction block before the auctioneer takes over to do his song and dance.
I found it both challenging and fun. I enjoyed working with the auctioneers and liked the dynamics of the auction, so started thinking to myself "I could do that." I guess Mitch thought so too. He offered me the chance to attend auctioneer's school. I accepted. That was step 3.
Actually being an auctioneer was much more difficult than I had imagined. I was a terrible auctioneer right out of auctioneering school. The other auctioneers made it look so easy. But it takes some skill and experience to string all the pieces together, necessary to be an effective auctioneer. I found it a real challenge to coordinate the volume, rhythm, speed, and clarity of my voice while searching for and tracking bids in the sea of people staring back at me.
But I didn't give up. I tried my best whenever I got the chance to be on stage to sell those collector cars. With a lot of practice, patience and the assistance of many mentors in the auction business, I started down the long road of my auctioneering apprenticeship; aka step 4.
Bump the clock ahead twenty years. I've been a part of some amazing events and had some great opportunities. A highlight of my auctioneer's career was jetting to New York to work alongside Donny Deutsch on the stage at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan raising awareness and funds for a cure for Parkinsons with the Michael J Fox Foundation.
I'm a perfect example of "you never know where your life might lead you". Now I get to watch as my son takes his turn walking down life's path.