The only constant in life is uncertainty. For many of us, this is overwhelming. It definitely was for me, especially in my early and mid-twenties.
I was so terrified of uncertainty in love and marriage, uncertainty in work and achieving success that I stood still for awhile. Years later I’ve learned to accept uncertainty, although I have to constantly remind myself to that I have no choice but to live with it as I’m on this #WorkBigger journey.
Today I’m excited to introduce you to Christina Salerno, Leadership Coach and Founder of Living Quirky.
Christina is a former rock star (yup!) turned entrepreneur. How did she get here despite the unknown, despite the ups and downs?
She lived the questions, and committed to her experiences. She was patient, yet intentional.
Without further ado, I introduce to you Christina as she talks about how to leverage the unknown to work in your favor.
Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Chattanooga, TN, but have lived many places. I currently live in New York City because I told myself I could never live here, and I wanted to challenge my beliefs about what I could or could not do. 4 years and counting, woo hoo!
Can you think back to your 22 year old self? Tell us about your first job and where you started out.
I have a very unconventional story, so when I was 22 I was actually touring the country in a rock band. From an early age, I had unexpected success as a professional singer / actress / dancer. Most people talk about going into corporate, burning out and then finding their true purpose. I went the unconventional, creative path, still had a health meltdown due to burn out, and later found my purpose underneath all of the creative pursuits.
Can you tell us about the purpose you found? What is your mission now, the work you want to do?
I’m on a mission to help people feel more comfortable in their own skin. To change how we see what makes us different. And, to come together around our unique, individual, quirkiness instead of trying to hide or squash parts of who we are in order to fit in.
Did you struggle to identify it?
I had to try so many different jobs and industries, learning very slowly elements of who I am, what I love, and what I’m meant to do in the world before eventually collecting enough data to spot patterns, see the connective threads, and piece together my puzzle of a mission.
What led you there? Can you recall any experiences you had that pushed you to your mission?
I wish there was one thing I could point to. To say, go do this and you’ll discover your mission. For me, it’s been a never-ending chain of events.
It’s only looking back that I can make meaning in the seemingly scattered experiences. If I could recommend something, it would be the quality of the journey.
I’d suggest following your intuition and your curiosity, to shed the shoulds and should nots, to dive into the unknown, to get lost, terrifyingly lost.
Usually just when I’ve fallen into the darkest pits of despair is when I discover brilliant lights of insight and clarity.
To challenge your beliefs and assumptions. To give up on finding the ONE thing and try all the things.
Collect as many experiences as you can. You’ll learn a lot from the things you hate as much as the things you love. And, then continually check-in with yourself and pause in the experiences and insights you’ve collected, while also still being open to the future unknowns.
I still feel like my mission is an evolving journey where I’m continually learning more about myself and what my mission looks like.
What has been the result of doing mission-driven work?
My world is ALIVE. I have both the hardest moments of my entire life and the most beautiful and nourishing moments. I impact people on a regular basis, and I sometimes feel excruciatingly alone. My spectrum of experience has expanded to capacities I couldn’t have known existed.
What’s the biggest challenge you face, especially when it comes to doing mission-driven work. How do you overcome it?
Uncertainty. Making decisions without all of the necessary information is the biggest job of an entrepreneur. Seeing beyond what exists and forecasting what could be.
I never know if something will work how it does in my head. I have to be friends with uncertainty every day. Trust and faith is the antidote to thriving in the unknown. I have to trust myself and my team to be able to figure it out and make adjustments along the way.
Many 20 to 30-somethings are still struggling to get clear on the work they want to do. What advice do you have for them?
Let go of having it all figured out and go experiment and experience things. Insight is when you are clear and then you take action. Out-sight is when you take action, and then find clarity out in the world. If you’re waiting for 100 percent clarity, you’ll always be waiting.
Take risks, fail, learn, adapt, grow. And, repeat!
What’s the greatest insight you received from this interview? And, how do you perceive uncertainty in your day to day? Is it a pain point for you, or do you welcome it? Share your answer with Christina and me in the comments below.