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The Happy Accident

Some accidents are passive and can be catastrophic for our career, and others are seismic and alter our lives for the good. Most of you reading this were born in the USA, through zero effort on your part, and that event itself is probably the happiest accident of your life.

As to your career, there have been and will always be bad accidents that effect you, and I’ll let your imagination and experience color those in. It’s the happy accident that we want to explore.

Remember Napoleon’s tenet that the best generals are the lucky ones.

I can think of three personal accidents in my life that have made all the difference.

I met my future wife in the library at college. My low achieving academic career will attest to the true randomness of my presence there. Meeting her at that moment and time has made a great difference in many lives. For the good, I pray. We’ve been married over 38 years.

Second, it was an accident that I showed up for a job to load trucks in a three-piece polyester SEARS Best plaid suit, which rivaled a horse blanket in its pageantry. The suit cost me $80, and I was told I overpaid for it. I happened to be wearing the suit for another event on that day, important then, and unmemorable now. Five people lined up for the interview for one position. I went first. I got the job, loading trucks in the middle of the night. I needed the part-time work, and was grateful for the chance. I never intended to stay there, as I had just begun law school, part-time at night. I thought I was on my way to being the next F. Lee Bailey. Not a chance.

Third, fast forward 26 years. An unplanned retirement caught a corporate department short a lawyer, and although many people, within and without the company, were qualified, I was offered the plum assignment. By accident. Several friends I made over the years stood up for me, and although that isn’t an accident, those are fortunate relationships, some nurtured, some passive. The position I am in today has made a real difference in many lives. Certainly mine. All very good.

I retired from UPS after 33 years, another happy accident. On balance, very good for me and mine.

Remember also that you should always be ready to assume any role offered or desired. You are only a sprained ankle away from the starting lineup.

We can never bank on the happy accident, just like we cannot live our lives worried about impending doom. We never assume luck will carry the day, whether good or bad.

But, man, when it’s good, we can express gratitude to all along the way!

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