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What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up?

Posted Nov 19 2010 6:16am
This topic has been nagging on me all week and thoughts have been swirling around which normally leads to a blog post...not always, but often.  It wasn't even a week ago and I was having a conversation with Marjie about her success professionally.  She graduated high school with me over 19 years ago, joined my adventure with me as I served on active duty in the Navy, pursued her nursing degree, accomplished that, and has stayed within her profession ever since.  She's worked in nursing homes, worked within multiple hospitals on their cancer floors, med-surg floors, doctor's offices, and eventually in the Emergency Room.  Long, diversified, steady, and an uninterrupted career path that has led her into management of the very ER that she began in.  Now, she looks to pursue a graduate degree that combines the business/financial side of medical care with her nursing profession, setting her up for more upward growth into the future.  Still young, it's difficult to not be a bit envious of her career path and success.  It is a fact that in today's climate, most people bounce between career paths and also move geographically more often than not.  Still human, she often feels beat down and a failure and I do my best to bring her back up and give her the encouragement she needs to keep forward movement.  It's easy to get inside your own head and convince yourself that you're a failure when reality is completely opposite.  I suppose this could be true sometimes but not in her case.  The frequent and positive feedback from those above her proves this.  Still, the negative thoughts and stress creep in and trump all of that.

It's nearly impossible to be her husband of 19 years (THIS Sunday!!!) and not reflect on myself as I watch her.  My path couldn't be more different.  The longest I've been in any job was in the Navy...10 years straight while on active duty.  That ended in June 2001.  Since then (only 9 years later), I've done the following in order: 1) Christian trade organization trade show exhibit manager in Colorado Springs...with an office location that could see Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy.  I loved that job and the expense account that went along with it...love Starbucks!!!.  2) STARBUCKS!  Yea, while selling our home that we just built, I worked at Starbucks, went through their coffee "university" and became a lifelong addict. 3) Helped my parents build a business plan, get the financing to start a restaurant. 4) Sold Hondas for 2 1/2 years with an extremely short stint at managing a Nissan dealership. I found that I was VERY good at selling...especially a product that I believed in.  5) Got my Series 7 license and worked for MetLife, selling all insurance and investment products, primarily to the educational sector.  I visited local school systems and sat down face-to-face with teachers, administrators, and other district employees to help them get their financial "house" in order and protect their family.  Did that job for just over 2 years.  6) I rejoined the Navy but this time in the Reserve and this time as an officer...missed serving so very much. 7) Fed up with living on commission and the stress that brought and sought after a more steady income that paired well with being a Navy Reservist >> now a federal employee where I work face-to-face with people who are disabled or are alleging disability.  It is a very difficult job to explain to someone and what it truly entails.  I have been there for about 2 1/2 years.

So as you can see, we have traveled extremely different paths.  We are the same age (well sorta...she's 6 months my senior!) but have reached very different levels of success...at least on paper, right?  I remember saying something like this about a week ago: "You have been so successful with your career.  You have done it all right, you are excellent at what you do, people admire you, and your future is super bright.  I, on the other hand, have not.  What have I accomplished?  Where am I headed?  What do I want to be when I grow up?"  I'm not jealous.  Actually, I admire her more than she'll accept.  She is the epitome of what so many look to achieve.  Still, it is nearly impossible to not reflect on myself.

This has forced me to "Get a hold of myself!!!"  What really matters?  What do I really have control over?  I think one thing I must do is to release those things that I have no control over, including people, and focus on the things that I can.  Being a Type A+ personality, that is not easy as many other Type A's will attest.  True happiness as a Type A is a challenge...a lifelong challenge as the desire to constantly strive for the next "rung" never stops and normally, my best is never, ever enough.  That then leads me to believe my best is still not the best...and never will be.  To add salt to the open wound, when someone then tramples my attempted-best, it is like ripping open that would and stomping all over it...figuratively speaking, of course.  It just feels like a non-stop battle and a constant striving for happiness, success, accomplishment, and fulfillment.

I have not arrived at a solution.  I don't have the answer, either.  I have my faith, my family, and a bouncing opportunity to serve my country which I am very passionate about.  Those are constants that keep me somewhat grounded.  Still, my mind, ambitions, etc. are going a million other directions, nearly 24/7.  You may, after reading this post see something a bit glaring...at least I do after re-reading it before posting: my service in the Navy.  It, without a doubt, has consumed the majority of my time post-high school.  It is also what I am most passionate about.  "So why don't you go on full active duty?" you may ask.  Not that easy.  I've tried, actually.  I am in far more demand as a Reservist in today's war-climate.  That could change in the future but I know the future just as much as you do.  For now, my "part-time" Navy job will have to do.  The shining light here is that service to one's country is all about selfless service.  My graduate school was Regent University in Virginia Beach.  I graduated from there in 2006 with my MBA.  It is a private, Christian grad school with the motto of "Christian Leadership to Change the World" and is very, very heavy in the concept of Servant Leadership.  Before Regent, I was the Type A that would walk on anyone to achieve my goals and do whatever it took to reach the next rung.  Post-Regent, I am still a Type A but without that blood-thirsty-take-no-prisoners drive.  I seek to lead through serving and it is part of my every fiber.  I feel my call to serve in uniform is a true marriage of this ideal and fits me to a tee.

So to my fellow Type A's...hang in there!  To everyone else, do what you love and love what you do.  When your job doesn't feel like work, you're nearly there!  For me, I'm going to head out today and pick up a highly recommended book at Borders, 48 Days to the Work You Love ...and then put the uniform on and head on out to my "part time job" for the weekend.
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