Have you ever actually shit your pants? I have. Multiple times.
At the risk of this blog being nothing more than a series of embarrassing personal stories offered up for your enjoyment and education, I’m here to let you know my professional life has been littered with incidents of me actually shitting my pants.
The first time, I was 22 years and three months old, working for the actual Devil wearing Prada. Inside the P.R. agency where I worked, the hallways ran like New York City streets: an endless grid where cubicles created sharp corners where people assembled to chat like they were neighbors, passing each other in the local corner store. The long halls ran like runways from the Eastside straight across to the West. And when you stepped out of your cube, you’d better look both ways. On any given day, an endless row of well-exfoliated, perfectly Balayaged women would barrel down the hall like the finale of a runway show (it was usually just the “let out” from a big brainstorm meeting).
After a few months, I thought I’d mastered the game. Heels of various heights were neatly arranged under my desk and lipstick shades were stacked and ready to communicate any message (“Networking Night Nude,” “22 with Baby Fat but Totally Serious Red,” “Casually Working the Red Carpet Crimson.”). Silly me. The delta between looking the part and playing the part was deep, wide, and possibly poisonous - a Hudson River to becoming a real P.R. girl.
“We got it! We did it!,” a Vice President cheered and hooted herself all the way down the main hallway straight to my little corner one afternoon.
“Hi Kamari! Can you find me a designer who will create a custom cranberry dress for Molly Sims? We’ll need it done in eight weeks,” she ordered at my proverbial corner store counter.
We're fresh out of those crazy lady, I thought to myself. “Sure. Any particular style or type of designer?” I asked obligingly.
“No, no. You don't understand. The cranberries must be real, of course. We just told the client we’d have a designer create a custom cranberry dress for a celebrity to wear on a red carpet in eight weeks - using real cranberries as the beading. We need you to make that happen. Go!”
It was precisely then that I shat my pants, looked up at her, and smiled like an incapable toddler - baby fat, red lips and all.
You’d be pleased to know, I somehow gathered myself (and my stomach) long enough to actually deliver a semi-cranberry dress for Molly Sims to wear on the red carpet.
But alas, almost eight years later, I would shit my pants again.
It was a regular Thursday afternoon, and my phone rang. It was The Queen of the Hive, herself. (Actually, it was a stylist for The Queen, but close enough).
In a conversation that lasted nine minutes, she would ask me to orchestrate an elaborate event for The Queen and her guests. The type of thing that would require months of planning, anxiety, and stress.
Just when I was starting to feel capable of that amount of angst in my life in exchange for working for the Queen, she uttered the words that turned everything upside down, “She needs it done by 3 pm. Tomorrow. Can you do it?”
As you can imagine, I lost my lunch.
Yet, after a series of awkward, confusing, exhilarating, infuriating, and ultimately perfect moments over the next 18 hours, I got the job done.
Almost a year later, as I began to categorize my portfolio, these rose to the top as some of the most extraordinarily shitty moments of my career. Yet, with a bit more reflection, they also turned out to be some of the most important, luckiest moments of my career.
They say luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I’ve learned the truth. Luck is when grit meets an extraordinarily shitty assignment.
That’s right. “Grit, meet Shit.” That’s when the magic happens.
So, if you’re not regularly finding yourself in situations that make your stomach do flips, then your business and career may be going cold. Put a finger to the flame, throw yourself into the most horrifying situation, and live to tell the story. Trust me, it will be a good one.