Are you taking punishment you don't deserve?

Growing up, my family owned the local roller skating rink. 

Roller skating was in its heyday, fueled in part by disco, which didn't "suck" (yet.)

Rainbow suspenders were a thing. (They really were. I swear.)

Since I got to do it all the time, I skated pretty well.

As a kid and a roller skater, I looked up to ice skaters.

It seemed like ice skating was roller skating's, thin, rich, pretty cousin from the big city.

I assumed these elegant ice skaters never got in fist fights in the parking lot.

And I knew for a fact that roller skaters often did. 

This was before figure skating got its proverbial black-eye by way of the Nancy Kerrigan /Tanya Harding knee-smack fiasco.

(For the record, that definitely would have happened at the roller skating rink.)

Perhaps that's why I totally got Surya Bonaly. 

I was watching the Olympic figure skating competition when she did this:

Nagano Olympics 1998,  French figure skater Surya Bonaly landed that one-footed backflip.

By figure skating standards, it was wild and reckless.  It was a very roller skating thing to do.

No other figure skater could do it -  man or woman. 

The Nagano crowd gasped and clapped. They adored her.

Scott Hamilton (who, for the record, could land a flip on two feet) said,

"She's going to get nailed." 

He knew the prim and proper ice-skating judges were going to slash her scores.

They did. 

It was an illegal move.

Her standing ovation-evoking move was against the rules.

Rather than being celebrated for her exceptional move, she got dinged and came in 10th place.

Are you landing backflips on one foot and not getting credit? Do you actually suspect it's working against you?

It happens to all of us sooner or later.

You're just too damn good (own it, please!) or you've outgrown where you are, but you've given yourself over to be judged by others.

It can be (and usually is) frustrating and confusing. 

How do you get out of this situation once you find yourself in it?

Surya Bonaly got out by turning pro after that Olympics.

She added more acrobatics to her professional repertoire and never missed a backflip.

The crowds adored her. 

There were no judges to punish her for the very gifts and skill that made her exceptional. 

You know what changes careers (and lives)?


The courage to do your backflip even if "they" tell you it's against the rules.

Your backflip scares them. 

Land that baby on one foot? They're really freaking out now. 

All "they" have to control you with is their rules.

You have complete control over whether you follow them, throw your back flip, or just skate away. (Remember the old Dire Straits song?)

When I started managing my career like a business, instead of following the "rules," it came alive.

Money, promotions, respect that had eluded me before, suddenly appeared and increased naturally. 

Not from the "judges,"  but from my teammates and supporters; from people who also wanted to succeed on their own terms.

The good news is that this entrepreneurial approach works even better today with side hustles and multiple streams of income becoming the new normal.

There are fewer penalties for changing jobs and following a non-linear career path.  When was the last time any one talked about courage in a meeting, or conference call or anywhere at your job?

When was the last time you felt alive and excited about the direction of your career? 

When was the last time you threw down your back flip? 

All skate, Courtney

The best thing you can do for your career is help someone else with theirs.

In that spirit...

  • Who do you know who would benefit from hearing this message? You can share it using the buttons below.

  • What do you think? Add a comment below or post an emoji👍🏼 in the comments.

  • Courtney's posts delivered straight to your inbox. You'll get things I don't post here and you be the first to get what I do post.