Have you ever walked into a situation knowing exactly what to expect, but then walked out realizing you really had no idea what to expect? That happened to me this week.
I was invited to speak on a Hospitality Panel for the Southeast Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board (learn more at selacowib.com). The panel featured experts in the fields of job placement and human resources for the hospitality, retail and tourism industries. I was invited to speak because of my years of being in the retail industry (even though I was recently retired they still let me participate).
When I walked in I simply asked God to help me focus on the questions and give the best answers I could. I already knew that I was the odd man out in terms of human resource and job sourcing experience, but I also knew that my perspective and knowledge of the retail industry could provide an alternate viewpoint. The panel went great, the crowd responded well, I didn’t fumble too much (there was one questions where I seriously had to fake it until I could make it). Honestly, the event went better than I expected (I wish we could live without having expectations; they trip me up often – do they ever trip you up?).
This was a business engagement. This was a business engagement directly related to my former life (can you have a former life when it just ended two weeks ago?). I never expected that there would be an opportunity to talk about Discovering Me. It was the last thing on my mind, truly. God had a different plan, and I am so thankful He did.
When I arrived, the host introduced me to some of the other panelists (for the sake of their privacy, I will keep names and details out). When meeting people, it is common to ask what someone does. Awkward moment. Do I tell them I am recently retired (who retires at 38?) and that I am writing a book and pursuing a speaking career? Well, yeah. That’s exactly what you tell them. Then when they ask you what the book is about, do you tell them both facets of Discovering Me? My story and how I desire to encourage young women AND that it is about discovering Christ in my life? Yep, no holding back. So I did. The response? Awesome.
One of the panelists is associated with the California Women’s Conference that takes place each year in Long Beach. Okay, wow. What a great opportunity that could be down the road. She asked for my information (which I had to write on a piece of scratch paper because I don’t have any business cards!). Another panelist asked where I go to church which opened a line of conversation about exploring the possibility of speaking to church groups (seriously, why haven’t I thought of that?). Then after the event, an audience member shared that they loved hearing me speak and that what I said was so clear and made sense. How cool is that???
One thing definitely lead to another for me this week. What a great reminder – and early on – to be open and ready at all times. You just never know who might walk through the door and what role they may play in your life. The key is to be available and not stuck in what you expect to happen but rather eager to see what may happen. I never anticipated making the connections I did, and I never expected to be so affirmed and encouraged by strangers. God. Is. Amazing.
I hope one thing leads to another in your life and you are surprised in an awesome way.