I've recently begun confiding with close friends, colleagues and family my desire to do more in the training and coaching area. The reaction has been predictably polarizing. There is the "what about your law degree, stop messing around" camp and the "I could totally see you being great at that" camp. No surprises there and I assume they are all looking out for my best interests in their own way.
What I've found more surprising is how once I gave myself permission to speak out loud about making my desire a reality, the way opportunities began to manifest themselves. I don't think I've done anything too different, it's more a result of being focused on a goal and letting people know what I want so they are aware.
The most surprising turn of events is how a chocolate chip cookie helped me get a meeting with a helpful connection. A mentor of mine was on a plane in First class coming back from Europe when they started serving warm chocolate chip cookies. As the smell wafted through the cabin and she looked down at hers she smiled and laughed out loud. "What's so funny?" her husband inquired. She said remember the story about my colleague Joe and the Seinfeld episode?
Rewind five or six years when we both traveled to Amsterdam for a business meeting. For some wacky reason, she had to fly coach, while I was in business class. Earlier in the trip, we joked about how this was like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry is in First class and Elaine is in coach and there's a thing with the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. As it turns out, we were on the same flight back to NJ. When they served the chocolate chip cookies, I grabbed an extra and brought one back to my mentor. She was appreciative and we had a good-natured laugh about it.
A few weeks ago she emailed me to tell her about how she was reminded of this episode on her recent flight back from vacation. As it happened, I was going to be near her office the following week, which is rare, so we decided to grab lunch. During lunch I mentioned my thoughts about doing more training. Along with many other helpful suggestions, she offered to introduce me via email to a colleague who worked in the training area. And not just any colleague, but a fairly senior colleague who would know a lot about how I might approach things. Long story short, this intro led to an in person meeting I otherwise would never had.
Moral of the story: It's not about WHO you know. It's about the memorable experiences and conversations you have with people and how they feel about you. It's about letting people know what you want so they can know how they can help you. And it's about being considerate and helpful for no other reason than wanting to connect and help another human being. The rest takes care of itself.