• Walking Your Talk

    by Sunny Schlenger

    Last week I received an invitation I would have killed for five years ago. And I turned it down.

    I casually mentioned the invitation on Facebook, and my decision not to accept it, and the response floored me. I’d expected some people to go, “Nice to have had the offer!” and that would be it. But many of my friends were incensed that Id walked away. “ARE YOU CRAZY?” one email demanded to know.

    Well, the answer depends on where you are in your life.

    Here’s the story: Last spring I got a call from the Discovery Channel, asking me if I’d like to be in the data base as a professional organizer for their new series on hoarders. I said sure, as long as the episode would be shot fairly close to where I live. The invitation last week was from the show’s producers, saying they’d found a client in Phoenix and although they knew Phoenix was a four-hour round trip from my house, I was at the top of their list.

    It was certainly an honor to have been asked. I was flattered and appreciative. But much had transpired since the first contact last May; much in my head, anyway.

    When I had the first conversation, I hadn’t really watched either of the hoarder shows. Having spent much of my career working in those difficult environments with very troubled clients, I never thought of the programs as “entertaining.” But I decided to watch, so I could evaluate what I’d be getting myself into if I were selected. And it was mighty grim watching.

    Hoarders have an illness, and as interesting as it might be to watch their homes get cleared out, you don’t get to see the whole story. The program is carefully edited and presented to hold your attention but the actual process is longer and much more demanding. Serious therapeutic assistance is required for the client to deal with hoarding obsessions.

    So, I’ve been there and done that, and know that I could do it again. But the question for me was, “Do I WANT to do this again?”

    When I was actively building my business and career, the notion of being on national TV was the carrot that made many sticks tolerable.Everyone dreamed (and still dreams) about being on Oprah. I made it as far as the Regis show after my first book on organizing came out, when

    they were still letting “non-celebrities” on the program. Appearing live with Regis was a hoot, but the work behind the scenes was murder. I did a before-and-after reorganization of the producers’ office and because I’m me, I tried to make the organizational systems match each

    individual. The producers didn’t really care though if the make-over was genuine. They just wanted “good TV” with nice shots that would make the viewers go “Ahhhh…”

    I gave them exactly what they wanted, and because one of the guests didn’t show on the day of taping, they gave me two segments instead of one – one segment was of the already taped office make-over and one was live with Regis and his wife, Joy. Regis told me later that it went very well and that I was “big” (whatever that means).

    It took me a week to recover, but the publicity was great and I’m sure it helped book sales. So fast-forward to last week. Given my past TV success, why wouldn’t I go for a repeat performance? Because between last spring and last week, I decided to teach a class on my passion, “Creating Your Personal Legacy” that combines several of my interests. My class research is cutting-edge, fun and very consuming. I’m also editing a friend’s epic fantasy novel, and doing mentoring/coaching and on-line writing.

    Bottom-line, my cup is full and happy.

    Granted, I could have agreed to do the show for several other reasons – to help someone who really needs it, to show viewers across the country how I assist people, and to create publicity for my existing books and any new projects that I undertake in the future. But honestly, is it worth the huge exchange of time and energy? (By the way, this isn’t a paid gig.)

    For me, now, the answer is a definitive “no”. It’s tempting for sure, but not at the top of my priority list. And that’s what’s most important. Sometimes we get to make big choices that demonstrate to us if we’re really ready to walk our talk — to give up something good for something even better.

    Thanks to all my friends who wanted me to keep going for the gold, but I’ve already found it, right here in my own backyard.

      • Madgew

      • February 12, 2011 at 11:14 am
      • Reply

      I like that you are where you want to be. Must be a great feeling for you. Kudos.

      Monday, October 25, 2010 – 07:42 AM

      • Sara

      • February 12, 2011 at 11:15 am
      • Reply

      You’ve had an impressive career (Regis?!), will continue to have an impressive career, and turned the offer down for the right reasons. Good column.

      Tuesday, October 26, 2010 – 06:48 PM

      • David Lacy

      • February 12, 2011 at 11:15 am
      • Reply

      We’re just lucky to have you on iPinion.

      Wednesday, October 27, 2010 – 01:45 PM

      • Tom

      • February 12, 2011 at 11:15 am
      • Reply


      Tuesday, November 2, 2010 – 06:49 PM

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