Is this where you thought you’d be 5 years ago?
It is rare indeed to meet someone who says, “I am doing what I have always pictured myself doing, I am happy as anyone could hope for, and I have no regrets.” I never have, and I get out a lot.
Most of us find ourselves doing what is required by the position we have: managing processes, leading people, driving a truck, working in a lab, selling widgets, helping others, etc. There are a sad few who do nothing worthwhile at all and are content to waste their lives away.
Most of us have not aspired to be where we are. We began our great enterprise of life knowing that the pinnacle of our success and satisfaction could not be reached without taking that first humble tentative step.
For some, the first steps are knowing what they are good at and what they love. Most of us are not blessed with that prescience at an early age. But if you like cars, and you like working on them, then the auto industry is a natural fit. You also benefit from providing a service that most people are willing to pay top dollar for… good for you!
Most of us do not have a clue about what we are really good at. We have a tenuous and changing grip on what we love, which often outpaces our ability. We can’t all be professional athletes, in case you didn’t notice.
The problem is exacerbated by privilege, the financial and social kind, not the race kind, as it gives young people a false sense of their true value and security. I grew up in a suburban home with engaged parents, and my siblings and I never wanted for anything. Sure, I had jobs at an early age, delivering newspapers in the morning and even as a janitor in high school, but I was never so hungry that I was forced to choose a trade or job and then slog away in mediocrity until I died. I had a vast parental safety net.
Like many of my peers in the mid-1970’s, I went to college. It was a privilege I did not earn and did not appreciate at the time. I did not grow; I regressed. I squandered a first-class education, though some sunlight managed to touch my brow.
I joined the Marine Corps right after college which proved to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Leading Marines a generation ago was the great privilege of my life. Certainly I could have performed better, and I acknowledge that the Corps gave me infinitely more rewards than I ever brought to it. Marine esprit and commitment to duty placed me on the right trajectory. I married, started a family, and entered the civilian world with the support of a devoted wife, patient in-laws, and a desire to work my tail off.
It was the fear of failure that motivated me more than anything else.
I threw in with a service company with lots of brown trucks. Fortunately, it picked me to remain on the team. Again, my company has given me more than I could ever give or repay.
None of my life after the age of 22 was part of a grand plan. Technically I’m in the fourth quarter of my game and I honestly don’t know where the time went. I would not change much, except maybe I’d hit the gym more.