Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Adaptability- Cowboy Rick's Lessons in Career Mobility

     What happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force? You might end up with Cowboy Rick. You can find Cowboy Rick every night towering above the boardwalk at Ocean City, Maryland. He's not especially tall. Cowboy Rick  stands above the crowd because he's perched on a milk crate.  It's part of his job as a street performer. Rick dresses up as a rhinestone cowboy- painting his face, hands and feet silver.  He pretends to be a statue -- standing shock-still for hours at a time.
     It's amazing to see how many people are transfixed by Rick's act. People crowd around and gawk -- watching Rick as he does absolutely -- nothing. Some pose for photos. Small children react with shock and awe. Most people toss a spare dollar into Rick's tip jar.  No question, Rick has mastered a unique talent. But what caught my attention is how Rick has literally made a career out of adopting to change.

     Mrs. SteveBauerMedia and I met Rick during a recent trip to the beach. We got to talking during one of his breaks. (Hard to believe you need a break from not moving at all.)  For a guy who doesn't move very much, Rick gets around. Turns out he's a musician from Ohio. Years ago, Rick pushed, pulled and tugged his 300 pound piano up onto the boardwalk every night. He had one of the best spots in town but got tired of inhaling fumes from the guy who uses aerosol spray paint to create instant works of art.

     So for a couple of years Rick paraded the boardwalk dressed up like SpongeBob Square Pants. It wasn't long before Rick got a bad case of SBB-SpongeBob Burnout. So Rick moved on and started acting like a statue. Rick says the money is pretty good -- it pays for his globe-trotting. Rick likes to travel.

     And that led to his next career change. Have you heard that Americans are going overseas to save money on medical procedures? Rick says he met a skilled surgeon in India who performs hernia operations at a deep discount. And Rick is planning to move to India and act as a guide for out-of-towners who come for treatment working as sort of a hospital concierge.

     You may think Rick is a screwball. And I'll admit this musician definitely marches to the beat of a different drummer.  But he's not afraid to try something new. Let's face it -- some people find change a terrifying prospect. They can't get over what I call the "what ifs". What if this happens? What if that goes wrong? Whether it's a new job, a new relationship or a new community -- change can bring fear of the unknown. But it can also bring exciting opportunities.

     No, I don't think many of us should try to be like Cowboy Rick. Who can stand still that long? I just want you to think about making changes in your life. Invent a new job. Learn to use social media. Be creative. Get out that project that never got done. Write a screenplay. Learn photography. Or you could visit Ocean City and watch Cowboy Rick round up a crowd. Rick makes a living by not moving a muscle -- but he's not afraid to move on and try whatever's next. Life is short.

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Photos courtesy: Trina Bauer Photography

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