When you get to the 4th quarter of the game of life, every now and then you look over your shoulder. You see where you’ve come from and where you’ve been.
I also imagine how things might have been different. In our journey of life, we come to many crossroads. I reflect on how things might have been if I’d taken a different path. I don’t have any regrets really, but it’s fun to kinda imagine.
When I was hiring, training, and managing a staff of technicians, engineers, and programmers, I tended to hire people who had served in the military. There were a couple of exceptions, but the military discipline and chain of command model works well for me since my management style borrows heavily from the influence my high school football coach. I demand excellence from myself and I expect it from others. The atmosphere in my work environment is scientific. It calls for unambiguous concise precision and fits well with military types. We don’t say 6 o’clock. We say 1800 hours. When we say numbers, we use “niner” instead of “nine” (believe it or not, when you say “nine”, some people hear “five” – I don’t know why). When we are calling out serial numbers and the like, we use the NATO phonic alphabet convention Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, etc.
You could say that I’m a tormentor. That would be an exaggeration and neglects the fact that this “tormentor” is also also a “mentor”. My employees respected me, but also liked me. To this day I maintain fellowship with them – even some of the ones I’ve fired. At one point or another, they all tell me I missed my calling and I would have made a good C.O. (Commanding Officer).
By the way, on Veterans Day, every employee who had served in the military got the day off. Those who did not – worked.
So why didn’t I serve in the military? Did I miss my calling?
I may never know, but what I do know is that one day I brought home some ROTC recruiting material. I was awed by the sheer power of the weapons and machinery. I remember showing it to my parents with eyes as wide as saucers. Well, mine were – but not my parents.
Rather than discourage me, my parents sought out the council of two teachers at school. Keep in mind that this was at a time when our country was mired in the Vietnam war and the military was not always held in the highest esteem. The notion of war did not seem so noble at the time. Both teachers sought me out to kinda lecture me on how I wasn’t “cut out” for military service and that my future held bright promise for “something better”.
I hold high respect for both those teachers, but I must say that they were flat out wrong. And how the heck did they know what I was “cut out” for? I’m pretty sure their assessment of me was more of a reflection of anti-war sentiment than anything else.
I believe there is way too much emphasis to get high schoolers to make career choices. I concede that there are some exceptions. If a young person is hell bent to become a doctor and is showing manifest proof of their convictions – throw gas on that smoke! Otherwise, be very careful in offering career guidance. After all, no one advised me to get into computers – the personal computer didn’t even exist at the time. Besides, I showed no interest in math or logic at the time.
When I have the opportunity to offer a young person career guidance, I try to govern my advice by a few common sense principles:
- God has a unique plan for you and will equip you to do it (Jer 29:11)
- Give little consideration to how financially “lucrative” a career may be. I don’t want our teachers, law enforcement officers, doctors, etc doing it just “for the money”
- Find something you like doing. Sports, hobbies, writing, art, music, etc. and use that as a foundation. If you inherently enjoy doing it, that’s probably a hint. Besides, if you love it, you’ll work hard at it and you’ll be good at it.
- Try not to “close doors”. Try your hand at several things. Take the pressure off. When you’re young, it’s easy to switch paths.
- Don’t be pressured into a career path. I see parents using their children to vicariously live out their own failed dreams. Parents, be proud of your children’s career choice and encourage them to excel, regardless of their chosen a career path. I also see guidance councilors steering young people. I doubt that any guidance councilor really knows a student well enough to steer them like that. I also suspect that the guidance councilor may have ulterior motives.
When offering career advice to a young person, consider the gravity of what you’re doing. Be careful not to have that young person writing a blog like this about YOU.
That’s what I think. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.
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