Success Comes When You Are Ready

I remember all the years I kept wishing for things to happen faster in my career as a motivational speaker. I wished for bigger audiences, bigger opportunities, bigger hair. I realize now that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And that sometimes success coming too early can be a bad thing because you aren’t ready for it yet.

I’m working on a big job coming up in August and we have been knee-deep in shooting promo commercials, getting product ready, organizing the camera crew I’ve hired to do a video diary of the whole day, writing the script and rehearsing it (over and over and over), arranging client testimonials and audience testimonials, preparing crew to sell product, arranging hotel and rental car, finalizing administrative details like contract and payment, and how to fit all this stuff into the car and still have room for a seven-year-old who insists on bringing his entire superhero costume collection. And did someone call a photographer to take pictures? And how will I pick out the perfect outfit? Is there any way I can lose twenty pounds by Tuesday?

And as I am doing a hundred things at one time, flawlessly, I am preparing a program that can be changed at a moment’s notice –that I am arranging and rearranging in my head even seconds before I hit that stage. And how I will be in the program and still thinking about what I left out, and where I should put it in, and now that I’m seeing their faces perhaps this story would be better than that story – and dealing with every distraction and being in the moment, and dancing with my audience matching their mood beat for beat. And I am leaving the stage and hugging hundreds of necks, and listening to their stories, and signing a book while running a credit card through the machine, while telling my seven-year-old to stay under the product table – children should be seen and not heard. And not wanting to miss a delicious moment of watching women take ownership of their fairy tale.

And I will stand there and wave as the last person leaves. And I will blow kisses and promise to stay in touch and watch them go after their dream. And I will get into the car and feel my body mentally and physically shut down as we hit the road again – my energy having been completely exhausted – wrung out like a sponge.

And it occurs to me as I go through the motions again in a job that is one of many, that I am truly a professional. And that all the tiny pieces along the way have worked up to this. This could not be done in the beginning years. I simply wasn’t ready. Those were the years for perfecting my craft. Those were the years for being thrown every distraction for me to handle. Those were the years for making mistakes. And mistakes should be made on small opportunities. No room for mistakes on the big opportunities. Those were the years for working  for free under hard conditions, to build in me an eternal appreciation for my salary – no matter what that is – because I still remember the days I was paid in chicken.

So, yes, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And now I see that success can’t be rushed. You can’t skip over the hard parts. There is no short cut. Success comes when you are ready. And so today, as I wish for that bigger opportunity that lies beyond the rainbow, I will pause and breathe and relax. And I will remember that it will come – when I am ready for it. And not a moment sooner.


Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson - called one of North Carolina's funniest women by Our State Magazine. Kelly lifts the spirits of audiences from coast-to-coast using humor, storytelling, and lives of the characters from Prides Hollow - Kelly's make believe small town. This unique approach to motivational speaking allows Kelly to break through communications barriers and connect directly to the audience's imagination.
Her powerful stories and wacky wit will make you laugh, remind you that you matter, show you how to see beyond your obstacles, and teach you how to stand up and stick out in a crowded market.
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  1. Excellent Kelly. It’s the “hard” parts that make what you did appear easy. Note I said, “appear”. You are a true professional in every way.

  2. You speak to me clearly, as the newbie in the business.  I trust your words and your wisdom Kelly!

  3. Awesome post Kelly!  You are one of the hardest working motivational speakers I know! I love the way you write too – it’s as if I’m right there with you.

  4. Thanks ladies! And, Marilyn: Too bad working hard doesn’t help you as much as working smart! That’s where I could use some work. Hhhmmm. I feel another blog post coming on.

  5. Yep. I was right. Marilyn, you triggered another blog in me. Thanks! Here it is:

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