Here is a little insight on your boy and how he came to realize he is a marketer. I went through a very long stint of being very negative about my life. Not anything too dark but more than once I did creep along the edge of depression. In my twenties, I started to become uncomfortably anxious. Mainly in scenarios with a lot of people in it or big wide open buildings. It was basically a fear of being trapped. I began avoiding things and dug myself in pretty deep. Once you start down that path it gets pretty tough to turn back. I’m pretty confident a lot of you have experienced this in one form or another.
I spent my early twenties working at Future Shop, so I couldn’t completely avoid being out in public. I did, however, avoid going into the New Sudbury Centre for 5 years. For those of you that don’t know/remember, Future Shop and the New Sudbury Centre were connected. This made it somewhat complicated on lunch/dinner breaks. Everyone would go eat, and I would make up an excuse to not go. The thing about anxiety is that it typically leads to self-doubt, avoidance, and depression. It makes you extremely aware of yourself and your environment. Hyper-aware.
Eventually, through a lot of smoothly conveyed motivation from friends and family, I decided to sit down with a specialist. I met with two different doctors for an hour each and asked question after question. They gave me insight and backed it up with some very strong evidence. At this point, I knew what I needed to do. I drove to the mall on Christmas Eve during the afternoon at the max level of busy-ness. I stood in the food-court for 15 minutes and merely absorbed the pure chaos of it all. I accepted the anxiety then a really bizarre thing happened. The moment I accepted it is the same moment my walls of resistance crumbled and started to fall away. I smiled and browsed the mall. It was with baby-steps but it gave me the confidence to take bigger ones until I was walking at a pace that I was in control of.
I began working hard to restructure the way I thought. “It didn’t happen over-night” is the understatement of the century. It took quite some time. I had to constantly remind myself to look for new perspectives. I really got out of my own head and spent a lot more time trying to figure out why people thought and acted the way they did. One of my biggest keys to success is my ability to read people and situations. That hyper-awareness that was once a nightmare in my life became my superpower.
Years later, as fate would have it, my marketing agency became the Agency of Record for the New Sudbury Centre. Isn’t that ironic? I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, I believe everything just happens. We get to control ourselves, our reactions, and behaviours. We will slip up from time to time but we also continue to have the opportunity to get better. As we get better these thought patterns become second nature. It’s pretty freaking amazing actually.
So, sometimes I’m asked what my best trait as a marketer is and I tell them it is my awareness. My awareness that was once out of control and created information overload for me. This ability that allows me to intensely empathize and read things in people’s behaviours that most people miss. You’ve heard this before but it’s time to hear/read again… your weaknesses’ can be your strengths. I never say “things will get better,” I say “things can get better”. Own your own bullshit and work towards getting better and making the most out of this human experience. Do not rely on others, enjoy them but accept that they too are on their own personal journey. Start blaming yourself more and begin accepting that you can become more than you might have ever imagined.
Clifton Nicholas Skelliter