Who Do You Want to Become?

–How About... You.

I remember when I was in college, I wished I had a crystal ball. I wanted to know what my future would bring. I wanted to know what mistakes to avoid. I wanted to find the right path.

For years, I took a backseat in the design of my own life. I was good at things, teachers and adults I respected were quick to say, “You’re so good at this, you should…..” So I did. I did what others said I should do. I didn’t really think about it at all. For years I just let life happen, allowing myself to be guided by the winds of happenstance, rather than choice.

I don’t think my story is unusual that way. From what I’ve seen, many lives unfold within the dotted lines of someone’s helpful advice, or an opportunity that presents itself, or following logical next steps, or by doing what was simply expected, allowing others to set the path on our behalf.

The question is, at what point do we start actively participating in the design of our own lives, rather than as bystanders with a hope and a prayer that it’s all going to work out for the best?

I ended up in theatre totally by accident, there wasn’t a lot of strategy going on. I had been successful on the speech team in high school and followed in the footsteps of another girl who had been successful on the speech team the year before me, taking an internship at our local television station my senior year in high school. Not really giving it much thought, I went to college and majored in Radio and Television. Because. I had always sung in high school, so when I got to college I auditioned for the choir, and…low and behold (!) they offered me a full scholarship if I would switch my major to music! So I did. But it turned out that being a music major meant singing opera, which wasn’t my bag. So I auditioned for a musical review through the theatre department and…low and behold (!) they offered me a full scholarship if I would switch my major to theatre. So I did. That’s how much thought I gave my career path.

When I was doing theatre, there were times it was magical for me. If I was working on a script that allowed me to challenge what people were thinking or transformed the way they looked at themselves and the world, it was awesome. I felt like what I was doing was meaningful and important. But I could never get excited about going out for a Tide commercial or auditioning for Okalahoma!—it felt trivial to me. That was a problem.

Because you see, in the theatre-world, you don’t get to pick and choose your projects, if you plan on eating and keeping a roof over your head, you have to go out for everything you can and give it all you’ve got. You’ve got to love it enough to make the constant rejection, instability, and uncertainty worth it. For me, it just wasn’t.

As I started to get to know myself better, I realized why. I’m driven by connecting people to their best selves. I want people to think and feel deeply and discover their own greatness. That’s what lights me up. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. That’s what keeps me writing. That’s why I get on airplanes far too often and do what I do. That’s why, for the first time in my life, I know I’m on the right path. Now I’m excited to give it all I’ve got. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still rejection, instability, and a boatload of uncertainty, but now it’s worth it.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who have found themselves on a path that doesn’t fit them. They’ve done all the right things and taken all the logical “next steps” in their career, but they’re not excited about what they’re doing. It’s hard to bring their best. They want to, but it feels… They’re dissatisfied and can’t figure out why.

I’m not suggesting that you give up your responsible job and head off to some ashram to contemplate your navel, but I am suggesting that you give yourself permission to get to know your own heart—that there’s value in asking in some important questions.

What drives you, for real? What do you really care about? You do what you do for the sake of what? What is the impact you want to have?

The truth is, I’m glad I never found that crystal ball. If I had been able to see back then how my path would unfold, I probably never would have taken it. I wouldn’t have had the courage. You see, it’s been full of twists and turns and bumps in the road. I’ve failed mightily and had to dust myself off and pick myself up again more times than I can count. There have been mean people who say mean things and desperate people who have done hurtful things. There have been really lean times and times of abundance. This work has made me doubt myself and know myself. There is no easy path, but I know I’m on my right path.

What’s coming to mind as I type this, is something Jana Stanfield says on one of her live recordings as she introduces her song, If I Were Brave (which I used to sing to my kiddo every night at bedtime until he told me it was time for me to get some new material. Ahhhh….a million years ago, it seems!): “It’s not about the journey or the destination, it’s about who you become along the way”.

Who do you want to become?

How about…you.


Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis
An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership” which runs in NYC and Dallas, TX. Additionally, Kimberly teaches for Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Cox School of Business’s Executive Education Program's Transformational Leadership Program and their Latino Leadership Initiative. She is also privileged to teach for the Bush Institute’s WE Lead Program (empowering female leaders from the Middle East). Kimberly is a TEDx speaker and her book, Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need, is the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Business and Career; an Amazon Bestseller in Business Leadership, Business Motivation, and Self-Improvement, and Motivational Business Management; and was named as the number one book to read in Inc. Magazine’s “The 12 Most Impactful Books to Read in 2018,” with a cover-endorsement by best-selling author Daniel Pink.

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  1. Hi Kimberley
    Loved your article. I call myself a Life Enjoyment Mentor – helping people enjoy being their true selves. So we have a lot in common. My key way of helping people is through helping them remember what they have been good at and enjoyed doing since their adolescent years. From your article I picked out these creativity words/phrases: speeches (public speaking), singing/music/theatre, challenging what people were thinking, writing and finally “connecting people to their true selves”.

    I believe purpose finds us (rather than we finding our purpose) throughout our lives. God’s/the Universe’s way of telling us why we are here. A big factor in your case and in mine too was the desire to keep looking out for cracks in doors of opportunity that are begging us to open them and peek into whomever or whatever is waiting for you in the next ‘room’.

    Keep up your wonderful work as we both continue to keep our eyes open for new doors partly open.
    Peter Nicholls

    • I love how you read a piece so deeply to seek out what’s underneath the prose, Peter. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights and your heart! Have a great weekend!