How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?
Emily Walsh is an Alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program. Emily is the Assistant Director of Education, Youth and Family at B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A week after I moved to New York City, a friend was playing in a concert at Carnegie Hall. I looked up directions online and got there very quickly; proving much easier to get to Carnegie Hall than the well-known quote otherwise indicates.
New to the city, the stereotypes seemed to state it well: polite and passive Midwesterner encounters direct and pushy New Yorkers. Stereotypes aside, the past year and a half I’ve devoted a lot of attention to being more direct in my personal and professional life. Difficult conversations are, well, difficult for me, and I try to avoid them at all costs.
I recently encountered a challenging scenario with someone I work with tangentially. While reflecting on the experience afterward, it seemed easy enough to let go and forget about it, but I decided to do otherwise. Since I don’t work so closely with this person and the stakes seemed low, I thought maybe I could “practice” having a difficult conversation. We met, and we both shared our frustrations, and how we experienced working together. It was hard for me to be direct, even scary as I searched for the words. But I pushed through it; after all, this was just “practice.” Not only did I survive, but I came out of the conversation feeling accomplished, more confident, and ready for the next one that comes my way.
Finding my voice and feeling confident in being direct is a must if I am to be successful in my career and life in general. Looking at each difficult conversation as practice for the next helps put each situation into a greater perspective. After all, everyone knows the real way to get to Carnegie Hall is through practice, practice, practice.