Shoulda, coulda, woulda

Awhile back, I was fired up to be asked to be a guest on a local business radio show. It’s hosted by two very well-respected women in the business community, and every night they feature high-level executives and other community business leaders on their show.

I was, admittedly,  nervous about going on air. I’d never done radio, so my former life in print media didn’t help. At all. Not even a little bit. But, facing daily challenges big and small is par for the course for a business owner, so I chalked it up to one more thing I’d force myself to face and, eventually, overcome.  I figured it would be kind of like facing my fear of Quickbooks.

The show itself is meant to introduce listeners to a local business, an emerging industry, or a newsworthy person. As you can imagine, it’s generally not intended to be highly charged with controversy or conversation that’s too difficult. It’s friendly banter between hosts and guests, with a little education thrown in for good measure.

Imagine my surprise when the host of the show was this close to actually grilling me.

   “Why do you think you can charge so much? I don’t think I’d pay that much for an assistant.”

   “Who would pay for such a service?”

   “I don’t think I’d entrust my creative development to someone else. Where’s the confidentiality?”

   “How do you know who’s really in business? Are you incorporated as a company?”

Don’t get me wrong. These are all good, legitimate questions. In fact,  I happily discuss this stuff with people all the time. I just don’t talk about these things in 15-second sound bites, with someone sitting across from me giving frantic “Wrap it up!” “Finish your sentence!” “Stop talking RIGHT NOW!” signals.

Turns out, my natural need to think before I speak and my tendency to speak too fast when I’m nervous  makes me a crappy candidate for radio.

After the interview, I drove back to my office with the same three words screaming at me. “You shoulda said this!” “You coulda said that!” “If you woulda said this, it would have explained that! ”

Shoulda. Coulda. Woulda.

Three words I hate. By their very nature, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about shoulda, coulda, woulda. They remind us that an opportunity just passed us by. They infuriate the perfectionist in all of us. They haunt even the most confident among us. There are entire bookstore sections dedicated to avoiding the shoulda, coulda, woulda … it’s called the self-help section.

All things being equal, the interview I did actually went fine. In fact, the perceived “grilling” was probably mostly in my head and, if you were to listen to it, you’d probably think “It’s fine.”  But, that’s just it. It’s fine. Not good. Not great. Just…fine.

That’s the problem with shoulda, coulda, woulda. It results in “It’s just fine.” Greatness is not achieved with “just fine.”

In fact, I accepted another invitation to be on another business-focused radio show a few weeks later…just to see if I could overcome the shoulda, coulda, wouldas that evidently come when I do a live interview.  When the day came, I walked into the studio with  my talking points rehearsed, determined to think fast and talk slow, say what I mean in 15 words or less, and end each sentence before the “wrap it up” signal.

Nope. Still not cut out for radio. 

I once again caught myself thinking slow and talking fast, rambling on when I didn’t need to, and making the guy in the booth give me an “Any time now…” signal every few minutes. More to the point, I again wandered away thinking about all the things I should have, could have, and would have said given a second chance.

Every so often, things arise that require you to act before you think (in both our professional AND personal lives),  and shoulda, coulda, woulda sneaks up on you, taunting and torturing you. But I also think it does have its purpose … it’s an extremely effective reminder to not be afraid to grab opportunities by the horns, if for no other reason than to spite the shoulda/coulda/woulda voice in all of us. 

Next time I’m asked to do a live interview, I plan to be more preemptive.  I should be OK with the fact that I’ll never be good at them, then I could save myself from any post-interview chastising, and I would be a lot happier.

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One Response

  1. Rachel – Yep, doing radio interviews can be a bit of a shock. It’s their turf and the two J ladies are very experienced at it. If they still offer podcast version of the show, you might want to go back and listen to it. You may be pleasantly surprised. Download it and, if you think it would help, you can link that to your site. Just a thought.

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