How to Leverage Uncertainty for Success #WorkBiggerStories

Christina-Salerno

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.

Christina-Salerno

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?

YES!

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. 

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Leah says:

    The idea of getting out and experimenting and experiencing anything and everything is really resonating with me. I’m about to turn 26 and I was just telling my significant other last night that I am not even remotely where I thought I would be at 26. I had this idea when I was little about living in NY, being this crazy funky artist, and somehow living in luxury on the Upper East Side. But that is so not me and that’s so not where I am, and instead I’ve failed and tried and failed and tried again, and somehow, now, I’m more happy than I’ve ever been because I finally make time for my passion (my art) and I look for new experiences and I try anything. That shift has opened up an entirely new world for me. I have to agree with Christina, and you, Belma, about just getting out in the world and doing what scares you. It’s been this little fire in the back of my mind when I go to do something, “Does this scare me?” If not, then I know I’m still in my comfort zone and that if I want to do something that’s going to change me, and move me forward, I need to push that boundary. For example… writing this comment… reaching out… I never would have had the gall to do this a few years ago. So, cheers to moving forward!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Leah! Thank you so much for this thoughtful post and for sharing your journey. I’m so happy to hear that taking that first step is leading you to do something bigger (what you really want to do). And following the fear is also always a great indicator that you should take that next step. So glad that Christina’s story resonates with you. It really resonates with me as well. (And happy birthday!!)

  • Allison Callow says:

    I loved the notion that Christina shared that you have to constantly try new things to find the ones you loved. I would’ve loved to hear more details about her own story – how did she find connections? what decisions did she make to try the next opportunity and why? I’ve heard this a lot – take risks, trust your intuition – but I want to know the details. What did this person do that was seemingly unrelated? Were there jobs they tried that they didn’t like at the time but looking back seemed to connect with their journey? What internal struggles did they actually go through while on the path? These and many more questions I would love to see in future interviews or even posed at Christina again!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Hi Allison! Thank you so much for your comment and thoughtful questions. I’ll start incorporating these questions in future interviews because you bring up some great points.

      What I’m seeing as I conduct these interviews is that sometimes in the moment a certain job or decision seemed “random” but it wasn’t. It aligned with something bigger/deeper that they were passionate about. It’s like Steve Jobs said…“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” This is so hard to do and that’s where the “trusting” comes in. This is difficult and even frustrating and part of the internal struggle. I know from personal experience as well.

      Keep an eye out for this week’s interview, and more to come! And as always, let me know if any other questions come up. 🙂 Thank you, thank you for reading and sharing!

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