Deciding between “if things are meant to be, they will be” and “if you want it, you have to go get it”

I feel like my Medium blog is evolving into thinking about spiritual and philosophical things. It’s my favorite thing to think about so I’ll just go with it. This week I am thinking about deciding between “if things are meant to be, they will be” and “if you want it, you have to go get it.”

When you are a “go-getter” getting this right is tough because you've been taught your whole life if you want something, you go get it. But I do have a tendency to hang on way longer than necessary to people and situations that essentially aren’t making me happy. We get attached to an ideal or a glimmer of who they could be rather than who they are when in fact, the answer should be pretty simple — it should be effortless. Good relationships should be effortless. Yes it requires work because there is a give and take, consideration for each other, compromising, patience, understanding. It’s not easy for two people to be on board with that at the same time but I think if it is meant to be, the energy will flow naturally and more importantly equally.

When it comes to our dreams and goals (i.e. you don’t have to depend on another person to like you, love you, accept you, care about you, feel the same way about you), I think you should push through the resistance. I have so many examples in my own life where I was told I was not good enough, I was too old for ballet, my grades weren’t good enough, I had physical limitations and I plowed through like a tornado. When I was rejected from a school or ballet company I just kept coming back. It became a game. I wanted to be the most obnoxious failure ever. I’d just come back until they accepted me. And eventually I was. I got everything I wanted.

Here are two examples of where I think that there is such a thing as destiny in life but you have to put things into motion. You cannot sit on your couch and expect to be an Olympian. But if you put the wheels into motion, if it is meant to be, the Universe (or in my case God’s love) will work with you.

When I was at The University of Texas at Austin I was a journalism major. I applied to an internship at Merrill Lynch and I was rejected. I applied for a job to Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and I was rejected. I managed to get a job at Edelman Public Relations, a very prestigious firm but kept my options open when a family friend suggested I’d apply to investment banking positions. She forwarded my resume to a bunch of firms — all of them rejected me except for one. That firm was Merrill Lynch. I read up every single book I could get my hands on (this is before the internet was useful) and showed up for “Super Saturday” — an all day intensive interview marathon. I met with eight bankers. It was the first time I had ever experienced an all day interview that intense. I was interviewing against wanna-be bankers who had business degrees and an Ivy League education and here I was: state school kid, with no experience but I was happy to be there.

What was my energy like through that interview? Well, I was very humble and honest. I told them the truth. I didn’t have the background, I didn’t deserve to be there but was grateful for the opportunity, but I did make one promise. I promised them if I was given the opportunity that I’d work very hard and that I would learn fast. I drew on my ballet experience — how I danced with blood seeping through my pointe shoes and I could handle anything in life. Well its a good thing I told that story because investment banking is a hard life and ballet did mentally prepare me to endure some very painful moments. I got the most coveted job on Wall Street and when I went back to Texas kids from the business school would be like “how did you pull that off?” Some things are just meant to be.

The second story is how I became one of the youngest manager’s in the history of Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting). One of the investment banking analysts at Merrill Lynch had left to join the Peace Corps and eventually go on to the Harvard Kennedy School but first, she made a quick stop for a few years at Accenture. They really drew from her investment banking skills and wanted to replace her with someone who was also an investment banker. I wanted to move back to Texas so she forwarded my resume to her manager and I was brought in for interiew. It was not so much an interview as a transition meeting. How would I handle her job essentially. I got the job and became a Manager at age 24 — bypassing the need to have an MBA. Eventually I also ended up at the Harvard Kennedy School too. It was all just meant to be.

I think that the key to “if things are meant to be, they will be” and “if you want it, you have to go get it” — is to pay very close attention to your energy. Does it boost your energy or does it deplete you? You may very much love someone but if the relationship requires so much effort that it leaves you feeling completed depleted, you should walk away. It is important to also distinguish between addictive highs where you get just a little bit of an interaction to keep you going until you get the next little bit of an interaction. Stay away. These spikes and valleys are not a good sign.

As for goals and dreams, I think you should plow through and keep trying if the chase of that goal or dream makes you happy no matter how difficult things get. Remain humble and don't get attached to the outcome. Believe that if that job doesn’t work out it is because there is another one that is even better for you out there. Eventually if it is meant to be, it will happen. Much like my jobs at Merrill and Accenture I did not obsess about working at these places in fact I never thought about them again until someone approached me and said, “hey you may want to work here!” and I was like “Oh wow, yes!” and the rest is history.

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