"When things got rocky, I had this great sense that if you remain honourable in some fashion, things will work out. It's like one door closes and another door opens. It's the hallway that's hell."
Nils Lofgren (member of the E-Street Band)
Recently on HuffPostLive, I had the opportunity to ask Nils a question. "How do you survive the Hallway?" Here is a link to the whole interview.
His answer, be still, sit on your hands and don't do anything you will regret later, was very sage.
In my life, during times when I was wandering that lonely hallway, I found being still very difficult. To me, that doesn't mean doing nothing and feeling sorry for yourself, but rather not panicking while you get your barrings. As with being lost, running hither and yon, then striking out in an ill conceived direction, could be the end of you. Put another way, my Mom's advice was always "Lay down and bleed a while".
There are two ways to end up in that Hallway. The first is through no fault of your own. An illness, a death, natural disaster, war, economic downturn, company downsizing, or simply a random turn of events. Though these are catastrophic and can make finding another open door really difficult, you do get sympathy and understanding. Not that those are cashable at any bank, or will solve your problem, but you may get some help and that was another part of Nils's answer. Seek help.
The other way of ending up in that hallway, is by choice. You've chosen to take a risk and it doesn't work out. Your business fails, your dreams and ambitions fail, or you've simply had it with the status quo and you quit your job and go out the door only to find yourself stuck in the hallway.
I find this the worst scenario, because everyone blames you and are happy to lecture you on your rash choices and stupid decisions.
"Well, you brought this on yourself! You should have been satisfied with flipping burgers, because at least you could pay your rent."
"See, I told you Music was a stupid major! You should have become an Accountant."
"Of course you were unhappy doing that! Everyone's unhappy, that's life."
"Who do you think you are? You don't have the talent to make it and you shouldn't have tried."
Well, you've ignored all the nay-Sayers and now here you are, in that hallway. What can you do to survive and hopefully find a door that will open?
Here are some things that have helped me, because honestly, I've spent the better part of my life in that dreaded hallway.
This is my NUMBER ONE
When opportunity knocks, OPEN THE DOOR! Don't say, hold on, and go and do something else, leaving opportunity waiting on the threshold. Don't waste time making excuses, or second guessing yourself, just give it a go.
When I got an email asking me if I would like to be a guest in the HuffPostLive interview with Nils Lofgren, my first reaction was to decline. The excuses swirled in my head and I was about to beg off, when I decided to take the advice I so liberally throw about, and answer the door. I accepted, and am really glad I did. This was just a minor opportunity but by doing it, I gained some valuable lessons.
I had to come up with some questions, so I had to do some research on Nils, and you know what I found? He is amazing. I read his bio, read several interviews, listened to tons of his music, and am now a huge fan. By saying yes to that email, I now have an artist, with a tremendous discography, to enjoy.
Another benefit of saying 'yes' to this opportunity was I worked out some technical issues with my equipment. I found my main camera, which is a mini DV and uses firewire, wouldn't work. I use "splitcam", but that doesn't work with Google Hangouts. I didn't even know HuffPostLive used Google Hangouts. I used my laptop and discovered HP TrueVision has so much lag it's almost useless. I disabled that filter, and though there was still significant lag, it was doable. Also, I discovered how to set up my video and audio for streaming, something I could never get working.
I tried different lighting scenarios and camera positions, hair styles and clothes.
That's a lot of effort for a 10 second question, but if opportunity ever knocks again, I'm ahead of the game and won't hesitate in accepting.
I was a bit stunned at the beginning of my question, because as a guest, you are watching the interview, then when it's your turn to speak, the screen goes blank, showing the HuffPostLive logo. I didn't know if I was on or not, but now that I realize that's how it works, I would be much more comfortable another time.
Also, by saying 'yes' to opportunity, I got fodder for this blog, so, bonus!
Some other things that may help in surviving the hallway:
Don't Panic. If you have a towel, hold onto it. If you have hands, sit on them. If you are bleeding, lay down and bleed. Panic will only make your stay in the hallway unbearable and you may choose to leave by the clearly marked 'exit' sign, which would be a loss to you, your loved ones and indeed the world.
Listen at doors. Opportunity may not be knocking but you may hear it just the same. Try something new that you don't think you will like, you may get a surprise.
Hobbies are great in the hallway. I love knitting, and the bonus is I have gifts to give to the nay-Sayers. "Sure, I should have become an accountant, but here's a Tea Cosy, leave me alone."
Do something for someone else. They may have a key to unlock a door and even if they don't, it's a nice thing to do and will make you feel better about yourself.
Stop spending your day on Social Media. It's a waste of time and it gives you a false sense of accomplishment. It truly is the "opiate of the masses."
Try a different floor. Sometimes you find yourself wandering the same hallway. A change of environment or trying something outside your comfort zone, may do the trick. Everyone sneers at people going to Hollywood to seek their fortune, but I don't think it's a bad idea to try something in a new place, with new opportunities.
Got other ideas for "Surviving the Hallway?"