Remember the TV story of Rudolph? He's bullied because of his red nose, basically laid-off from the reindeer team, and finds quirky new friends in gold hunter Yukon Cornelius and Hermey, the elf who wants to be a dentist. Together the new friends set off to find their place in the world, ending up on the Island of Misfit Toys. I usually tear up at this point, seeing all the beautiful toys banished to a cold island simply because they had the misfortune to be unique instead of looking like the other toys.
I ™ve always been thankful that I ™m not an outcast like the toys, and tell myself this is never going to happen. I ™m with the in crowd. No desolate island for me. Unless, of course, I become super wealthy and purchase a private island to use as a vacation spot.
Then I went to a networking event. From reading my tales you know these things tend to get me into unusual situations. Suddenly, I found myself attending a 2-day seminar on interviewing skills, something I never thought I would attend. How I ended up there is still a mystery. Well, not entirely. I threw my business card in the bowl at the networking event and won the opportunity to be tortured “ I mean coached “ with a group of folks. I ™m such a sucker for throwing my name in the hat to win a prize.
The intent of the seminar? To improve our interviewing skills. In front of a group of strangers. While the moderator filmed us. You call this a prize? On day 1 of said seminar I was not in the mood to be coached for anything. Even if they had promised I would be a super-model by the end of the day, I wasn't having it. But I had committed so I dressed in my finest interview attire and dragged myself to the event. Taking a seat at one of the tables, I scanned the room, eyeing the other participants. Hmmm ¦ Seems like I ™ve landed on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Lots of sad faces and frowns; bad comb-overs and mismatched suits. Maybe this is a different seminar? I check my invitation. Sigh ¦I ™m in the right place.
Why am I here? I ™m not one of them , am I? My bad mood turned into self-pity and sadness. Am I also a misfit?
Until now I had thought myself a bit special “ that I might be above the masses that had been laid-off. But no, I was one of them. Look at us: no jobs, resumes in hand, sitting in a room waiting to be told how we can improve ourselves. We're all a bunch of misfits!
No one wants a Charlie in the Box!
The speaker begins; turns out the guy's engaging and funny. A few half-smiles dot the room. Maybe this won't be so bad. The seminar begins; we go through a workbook of exercises interrupted by group discussions. I make it through the first day of torture.
Day two and everyone, including myself, seems to have relaxed a bit. I am determined to make the most of my self-imposed torture. After all, I did put my business card in the bowl to win so I ™ve only got myself to blame. Then reality hits – the filming begins! One by one we must face the group, look into the camera, and tell our story. We answer questions as though this were a real interview. The moderator stops us frequently: watch your posture , look me in the eye , speak up we can't hear you , start over again . On and on this goes. I actually see sweat pouring from one participant's forehead. Poor guy. Someone call for make-up.
My turn already? Really? Isn't there someone else who should go ahead of me? It's like I can hear Rudolph's mean friends taunting, getting ready to laugh at me. Deep breath; let's get it over with. I seem to be doing well when the moderator stops me. With complete conviction he tells me what he thinks my career should be.
I ™m stunned by this revelation.
Without a conversation between us, he's saying something out loud that I had written down earlier in the day – my dream career.
How did he know about this? Did he steal my notebook during the break?
Here I am, on the Island of Misfit Toys, and Yukon Cornelius has discovered gold in me!
Little did the moderator know that his career choice for me had been a secret passion of mine, one that I had been fulfilling through volunteer work. I had been afraid to voice this dream for fear of being laughed at “ who wants to be a misfit AND be laughed at?
The moderator was encouraging me with positive feedback. He pointed me in a direction that I never thought I could go. I left the seminar with a new-found confidence. Whether I move forward with the new career or not, the possibilities for my career seemed endless.