Just Live It!

by The Red Recruiter on March 26, 2010

Rackspace Tattoo at SxSWBefore leaving for South America when I was 18, I went up to the local music store and bought a guitar.  It was a starter instrument, but I figured it would due for learning.  Knowing that I would have some time on my hands, I wanted to pick up something new – the guitar seemed like a fun new hobby to focus on.

A year later, I returned to the U.S. absolutely taken with the instrument and music as a whole.  In fact, I was so excited about it that I systematically convinced my Dad, Brother and a number of friends to start learning.

My particular music interest was heavily focused on Flamenco.  A year later, I got a tattoo of a Flamenco dancer on my back.

I guess it’s just a sense of enthusiasm mixed with transparency… dashed with a fascination for the world.  When I’m happy, you’ll know it.  When I’m not, you’ll know it too.

When I starting working as a consultant with Rackspace back in September of 2009, my life, leading up to that moment, had been pretty hectic.

I had spent the prior year experimenting in a field that had yet to be clearly defined.  Along with some of the great successes I felt that year, I had also been dealing with a number of personal challenges.  Mentally balancing the successes with the setbacks was a constant stress.

Bring on the Strengths

StrengthsFinderI remember receiving the results to my Clifton StrengthsFinder evaluation.  As with other personality tests I had taken in the past, my level of skepticism about the accuracy was real.  With that said, I also knew that every desk at Rackspace had a list of each Racker’s “Strengths” on it, so I was very interested to know what all the fuss was about.

Long story short, the results of my evaluation did nothing less than change my life.

StrengthsFinder offered me the opportunity to understand myself on a deeper level – a level that removed the fear of weakness that our culture has created and instead focused on what I was naturally great at.  As important, I was working with a group of people who understood and embraced these ideas.

Rackers embraced my Strengths and helped me understand how to use them.

Instead of being someone who was too quick to make decisions, I was an Activator – someone you go to when you need to get things done quickly.

I wasn’t a daydreamer, I was a Futurist – someone who can concoct images of the future and use them to create new paths and innovate.

I wasn’t a social butterfly on a mission to bug everyone – I had Woo, which helped me make new connections with strangers and build networks.

Kathy Kersten - RackspaceAs I went through additional StrengthsFinder training with Kathy Kersten, the message became clear that I will never be the best at what I’m weakest at – however, I have a chance to be the best at what comes natural to me.

Rackspace, as a Strengths-Based culture, opened doors to this new way of thinking and enabled me to be myself.   It was a moment of extreme clarity.

I most certainly owe Rackspace and the many Rackers who helped me along the way for this shift.  To know your strengths is one thing, to have a team around you who “gets it” is another.  It takes both.

Day 1 at SxSW

My first official day as a Racker was March 15th – right in the middle of SxSW.

While at the conference on Sunday, a colleague told me that a tattoo artist would be in our booth.  Jokingly, I thought “What if I got a Rackspace tattoo?”

Crazy as it may have seemed, I thought about it more and started to like the idea.

  1. Rackspace had made a profound impact on my life.
  2. It was my first official day as a Racker.
  3. My job role is to head up Global Talent Branding – get it, branding…
  4. Mom would approve.

So, the next day, I sat down at the booth with the crowds walking by and had Daniel Upton from Dandyland do it.

Here’s the video, which was created by Marcus Jordan from Rackspace.

I don’t believe in doing things halfway.  You’re either in, or you’re not.  Perhaps it’s that Activator coming out.  If you’re not willing to live it, you shouldn’t be doing it – whatever that might be.

Of course, getting a tattoo was my own choice and my own way of living it – not something I would expect for everyone.  My hope is simply that you find your own tattoo moment and go for it!

As far as answering the question, “What are you going to do if you ever leave Rackspace?” I’m not worried about it.  The tattoo represents an exciting time period in my life that I want to remember – a time of great self-acceptance and commitment to truly living my passions.

Have you committed to living your passion?  How did you make that transition?

Special thanks to John Zappe from ERE for his write up on my tattoo moment and our new Talent Portal launch!

  • VeronicaLudwig

    One of my new favorite quotes!!

    “If you’re not willing to live it, you shouldn’t be doing it – whatever that might be.”
    -Michael Long, The Red Recruiter

    Right on Michael!

  • http://theredrecruiter.com theredrecruiter

    Thanks Veronica! ;-)

  • http://www.sanerapdc.com/ Alicia Arenas (@AliciaSanera)

    I'm not sure if this is part of the Strengthfinders, but I would also add courage to your list of strengths. :-)

  • http://www.MidLifeCelebration.com/ jeff noel

    Nice one. Hope all is well.
    Let our lives be our message.
    Randy Pausch wrote a book about living, while he was dying.
    Decided to write a book about living, while I'm living.
    Maybe my tattoo should read: Internet's Only Five-a-Day Blogger.
    Always enjoy what you write Michael.
    Thank you for your contribution to making our world a better place and best wishes for exponential success as a Racker.

  • http://theredrecruiter.com theredrecruiter

    Thank you Jeff!

    I've read Randy Pausch's book – enjoyed it!

    Good luck on your book… sounds like a good idea!

  • http://dcflamenco.com/blog Michael Perez

    This kind of makes me realize why I'm sometimes a snob or an elitist or at least make myself seem like one when people ask me, “Do you think I could learn to play flamenco guitar?”

    Half of the time, I just say, “Forget it. Don't waste your time. You can't do it.”

    It's not that I don't want people to fulfill their dream of playing flamenco guitar. I just want to use reverse psychology to provoke them to prove me wrong. Of course, if they think to themselves and quit before starting, “Yeah you're right. I can't learn flamenco” then I just saved them a lot of time and hassle. You have to really want it badly that you'll do whatever it takes if you decide to learn flamenco.

    There are lots of flamenco students who will never be professional performers and they know it. Still they give it their all. Just like you said, “If you’re not willing to live it, you shouldn’t be doing it…”

  • http://theredrecruiter.com theredrecruiter

    This is some interesting reflection Michael. Truth be told it requires a ton of energy, effort and desire to be excellent at anything. You obviously have that, and have proven it, for Flamenco. Perhaps it's also a question of living in the now and embracing current passions… balanced with past commitments. I don't know the answers to this big mystery, but it's definitely a journey! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Pingback: Rackspace Tattoo at SXSW @ Geeky Tattoos

  • http://theredrecruiter.com theredrecruiter

    This is some interesting reflection Michael. Truth be told it requires a ton of energy, effort and desire to be excellent at anything. You obviously have that, and have proven it, for Flamenco. Perhaps it's also a question of living in the now and embracing current passions… balanced with past commitments. I don't know the answers to this big mystery, but it's definitely a journey! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Pingback: World’s Strangest | 11 Internet Tattoos

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