Reinvent.

To malke new again. To get a second chance.  Perhaps a third…

Have you re-invented yourself?  Do you need to?  Will you?  What if you did?

At some point in your life or career, you’ll probably have to. Sometimes you do it because it makes sense and takes you to a place you want to go.  Sometimes you don’t have a choice, and failing to do so results in a lack of relevance.

Fade away..

I’ve done it a number of times.  I have a bachelors and masters in fisheries management, and started my career working for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  Ronald Regan gets elected, goodbye environmental jobs. Time to reinvent myself.  Hello Northern Illinois University and the College of Education.  Here I am, 26 years later.

I’ve also done it a number of within those 26 years.  I’ve shifted from being a classroom teacher to being a technology coordinator and the administrative responsibilities that come with it.

As many of you know, a big part of my career has focused on presenting my ideas.  I did my first national presentation in 1995 in Phoenix on “Surfing the Information Highway in the Biology Classroom.”  Seriously.  How funny.  To get to that point, I had done numerous presentations on the local and state levels.  I paid my dues to get there.  At that time, there was no Twitter, and you actually had to do a presentation to get recognized to do other presentations. Imagine that.

I’ve had opportunities to speak at numerous conferences, and I’ve had some signature topics, including digital storytelling, presentation design, learning spaces, and some others.  Eventually as those topics became more mainstream, it was time to learn and reinvent.  Stay current. Stay relevant.  Actually do it in a real school.  Compete for those speaking gigs.  All at a tremendous cost of energy, time, stress…

At what point do you say enough is enough?  No more reinventing.

Musicians learn their craft, start playing small venues, and if they get good enough, connect enough, they play the big venues, the big concert halls.  But few can continue at such a high level, and gradually its down the other side of slope.

Interestingly, many continue on and return to the smaller venues where they got their start.  And they seem to enjoy that, and accept that that is just the way it is.  So do their fans, who realize that the musician’s voice is still true and the message in their songs is still much more meaningful than the superficial noise the new bands are putting out.

I guess most of all they just like playing their music, regardless of where.  They’ve had the big-time experiences, have been there, have achieved it, and probably reached the goals they set for themselves.  I’ll bet for many they just like playing for those fans who have been along for the ride, even though it may just be several hundred now.  Perhaps they just like playing for themselves, their music is that important to them. Playing, singing, and recognizing that they have the ability to communicate in a rare way might be just enough to see them through, without the big stage and lights, the travel,and the jazz that goes with the name on the big marquee…

So, at what point do you put it behind you?  Say goodbye, walk away, and do something else?  Just move on?

And reinvent yourself…all over again.

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