This week was yet another historic moment for our country as a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in what in essence was an attempted coup to keep the electoral college from certifying Biden as President. Five people died during the incident and there were many injuries to the police. There was even a Confederate flag brought into the house chambers and there were KKK flags at the demonstration.
It saddens me that our country has sunk so low. Positive conflict and compromise is a wonderful thing and part of what has made our country so great and different.
We no longer seem to have the capacity for E Pluribus Unum.
We can have opinions. We can disagree. We can be passionate. The grinding of conflicting ideas is very important to progress. However, at the end of all of this were all one wonderful thing–Americans.
Somehow this has been lost by a large number of our citizens that have seemed to have joined the cult of always right. Too many people have moved to an FU culture where if you do not believe as I believe then FU.
If you do not look as I look then–FU
If your religion or lack thereof is not mine then–FU
If your personal lifestyle does not reflect mine then–FU
If the person you voted for is not my person then–FU
It goes on and on and on. I see this and I think of all the immigrants, the tired and shattered, that have come to this country over 200+ years to escape the FU and instead find a path to freedom.
Too many people have grown so hard-hearted and selfish that they are completely unwilling to accept anything that is contrary to exactly what they see as the truth. We have millions of two-year-olds that have lost all emotional intelligence and the ability to really understand the difference between facts and opinions. “It is okay for me to do this because they are worse than me”. “Because they did this, I am going to do that”
Even my own US Senator and Congressperson participated by refusing to certify the election. Not because there were any actual facts to support the issue. The Supreme Court, law suits, U.S Attorney General, State Attorney General’s and more had agreed there was no evidence and instead there were mostly rumors. Really, they were afraid of the FU and the impact that working from the truth would have to their own reputation among the FU crowd.
As a result, they will have to live with blood on their hands and history on their conscience knowing they served to encourage what happened on that terrible day.
Those folks with the flags storming the capital in pursuit of a coup attempt were all strangers to me just as we’re the people that decided to loot businesses and pull down historical monuments during the riots over the summer.
Not strangers to me have been many folks I know on both sides that have seemed filled with hate and vileness towards people that in the past would have been friends with different opinions.
Can we heal? Honestly, I am not really all that sure. Try to speak subjectively with people on the far either side and most likely you not find find any openness to listen.
My person is right, the other person is wrong and that is not going to change no matter what. FU
Well for me, I am going to continue to love and support as I believe the Lord would want me to do. I am going to do my duty, as a citizen, as I believe our founders would want me to. I am going to support openness as the millions that have come here for the dream would want me to. I am going to do my best to live in my own very small world with honesty, civility, and objectiveness.
Perhaps someday we will come out of this winter that is our world. In the meantime.
Today is our 25 year wedding anniversary. I know this is traditionally referred to as the silver anniversary which I think is intended to be a reference to the type of gift that is expected to be exchanged but in my case, I think it may be more of a reference to what is happening to my hair.
Since we happen to live in a state with one of the highest divorce rates in the country, this is quite an accomplishment. The truth is that we have never seen it that way as our life together is pretty good and our circle of friends all seems to have stable, long term marriages.
I was 28 when we were married and had met Michelle through a mutual friend blind date just a couple of years earlier. The path to our coming together seemed long at that time as I had come to wonder if I would ever find “the one”.
We found each other and have been happy ever since. Have there been challenges? Of course, as they are part of life. Nonetheless, we have faced them together as full partners with never a thought about not getting through whatever has come at us. That is what great teams and great relationships do. They find a way to joy even in the darkest of times as it is the wind and storms that make roots strong.
We are thankful for our family, our health, our past and the possibility of what awaits in the future. I am thankful for the enthusiastic, smiling, giving, and beautiful woman that has put up with my shenanigans for all these years. I am thankful to the Lord for making me wait for that blind date to meet the person that would become the rest of me.
The years of gone by quickly and now we look forward to retiring and filling our lives with even more adventure, fun and service to others.
Marriage to many is considered to be a risky thing. Meet the right person, share common goals, and treat your lives as a singular endeavor and you will win.
I can still remember when I first read The Millionaire Next Door. I was new in my career having moved from my small hometown to “the city” (Oklahoma City) to start my adult working life. This was the early 90’s and there was a recession going on. For some reason, there did not seem to be much of a demand for people with a degree in Government from a small college and work experience that consisted of being a janitor at a hospital.
What a surprise!
I had tried to find a job for many months before I finally was offered one by Cellular One as a call center collections agent. The starting pay was $14,000 base with a possible $3,000 bonus which turned out to be the absolute minimum I thought I could survive on.
Flash forward just a couple of years later and I hear about this book that tells stories of how average people with an average income ended up being very wealthy. At the time, the primary learning I took away was that most millionaires did not drive Porsche 911 or wear an Italian suit. They instead drove used cars and shopped at JCPenny.
I wish I could say that it was at that moment that I started maxing out my savings, paying off debt, and living conservatively leading to retiring early at 40. Heck, I was hardly hanging on with a low income, a car loan weighing me down, credit card debt, and ramen noodles as my main food source.
I did buy a suit that year at JCPenny and I did enroll in a 401K for the first time. After that, I think I was done. Nonetheless, that book planted a seed of possibility into my mind that did not leave me.
If with age and failure also come wisdom, I am a really wise fellow. So much so that I want to help you in some ways to not be me and in a lot of ways to be me.
The bad stuff
Mostly this was having let fear get in the way. I have been with my employer for over 20 years which is a pretty rare thing nowadays. Unfortunately, during this time I experienced layoffs almost every year, and during those times I would “buckle down” by reducing my 401K savings thinking I needed to keep the cash up. Each time the outcome was the same. I still had a job.
The good stuff
This fear of job loss forced us into a conservative financial mindset with a low-cost lifestyle and relative to most people a high savings rate. I only wish that we had saved more sooner so we could have had even more benefit from the power of compounding.
My first real step
This started for me during my drives home from work. It just so happened that Dave Ramsey was on air at that time and I quickly became a superfan as I heard story after story from people that had transformed their lives by getting out of debt and by getting their spending lives under control. I was fortunate to have never dug too deep of a hole as I had no credit card debt by this time and instead only had the “normal” car debt and a mortgage. I loved the information so much that we eventually ended up being Finacial Peace facilitators and hosted the class at our house. By this time, we were 100% debt-free with no thoughts of ever having debt again.
The next big thing
I thought we were doing pretty well with having 0 debt, saving 10-15% of our income in a 401K all while paying for the son’s college debt-free.
Then came the wake-up call which is was in the form of the FIRE movement and awareness of the widely accepted 4% rule. I had not considered before that it was possible to retire well before the traditional ages of 62 or 67 and I certainly had never heard before that at retirement you would want to withdraw no more than 4% of your total savings.
So $1,000,000 in retirement savings would mean only $40,000 of pretax income. No way!
Oh, how I wish I had this information 15-20 years ago. Regardless, I have it now and my goal is to pass it onto you at a high level so you can learn and get control of your financial life.
Sorry for the long back story but I wanted you to know where I was coming from before laying down some information to help you join me where I am going with the rest of our conversation.
Are you ready now for the big secret?
The formula for winning with money is really quite simple.
Save at a high rate over a long period of time
Live below your means
Grow your income
Define your money values
Define your life values
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Yep, that is it.
Do these things and you will never work for money again. Instead, you will set up a perpetual wealth-building machine that makes money work for you. Sounds great huh?
The sauce to bind all of these things together is education, action, and averages. Go deep to learn many different opinions on how to reach financial independence, do something right now to get started, and increase your life average by surrounding yourself with people that are already where you want to be someday.
For me, I have several resources that have been my go-to these last several years. If I would have had access to this information AND had taken action way back in those early 90’s days I am convinced I would at this point in life be a very wealthy person.
Here is my win with a financial education list and please if you have others that you recommend please add them in the comments.
The Total Money Makeover-Dave Ramsey. Read and do this if you have debt
The Automatic Millionaire-David Bach
Unshakable- Tony Robbins
The Simple Path to Wealth- J L Collins
Think and Grow Rich-Napoleon Hill
The Chris Hogan Show
The Clark Howard Show
The Stacking Benjamins Show
I could add even more but do not want to overwhelm you. Just trust me that if you do nothing but go through these resources and then the next most important step with an action you will win!
Have more that you would add? Leave a comment for others (and me) to know.
This week I read the wonderful obituary of a man known simply as “H”. His actual first name was Harold but based on the description of his life I get the feeling that he lived it with such gusto that he simply did not have time for the formality of his full name.
Now that is a man you can hang out with on the front porch while sipping a cold one or bushwhack through a jungle on a grand adventure.
I kind of imagined what it would have been like to meet him for the first time. Hello, my name is Harold and I move pretty fast so all my friends just call me “H” and since pretty much everyone is my friend that is what you can call me”.
Nice to meet you “H”
Here are just a few facts there were listed about his life:
Met the love of his life in 2nd grade and was married to her 54 years before her passing
Grew up on a 125,000 ranch near Mexico
Started work as a roughneck at the age of 12
Went to college on a scholarship and hitchhiked to get there carrying all he owned and his life savings of $300
Was a star college athlete and in the ROTC
Served as a Green Beret officer in the 101st as a low altitude paratrooper and sniper. Saw action but spoke little of it
Post military was a pro football player
Husband, father, grandfather and a “special friend” to a nice lady
There was even more listed but I think by now you have joined me in forming a picture of the man that was “H” and the life he lived. My favorite part of the obituary is this quote they provided as attributed to him, “life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid sideways. Chivas in one hand – a taco in the other-body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, WHOO-HOO, ITS BEEN A LONG DUSTY RIDE.”
Consciously or unconsciously, the majority of us spend our lives seeking the safe middle ground without the risk or the joy of discomfort. We are content to get through our day, our week, our year and for many, our life without having ever really stood up stood out or taken a risk.
There is a great joy to be found in the unknown and the uncomfortable. Perhaps the craziness that is 2020 is the year for you to do some deep reflection regarding your well-preserved self and to make some uncomfortable changes.
What is one thing you can do right now this day to be bold and beyond the comfortable you? Write that thing down and make a public commitment to make it happen no matter what the cost.
I know for many this is going to be hard and I know for all that do it the reward at the end of the journey will be worth it. I am with you. After all, don’t we all love a good drink and great taco?
It seems like it was just yesterday that we were at work with friends, co-workers, and the long talker that would trap folks for what seemed like hours to tell a random story about their weekend. Suddenly the world has changed and all of that is gone as millions of us have suddenly found ourselves forced to work from home.
For those of us at home, our role now is to maximize the time to be the best possible worker we can while also balancing whatever may also be going on in the house as we deal with stir-crazy children, barking dogs and the reality of spending 100% of hour time with our family.
It will come as a surprise to many to learn that the transition to working from home can be difficult. First, there is the design of the job itself. Your company may not have previously used tools like Zoom, Webex, Skype and others to connect workers with each other. Fortunately, these can be learned quickly if you have a tech leader that can help others to adapt.
Next is the work at home transition for the individual employee that may have never had this opportunity before. The worker that is disciplined and structured at the office most likely will be this way as well at home and as a result will adapt quickly. The undisciplined and poorly focused person is going to struggle more and will need to have a solid plan for every workday and in some cases for every hour.
I have been a remote worker in the past and now am that way again. Here are a few tips that I think will help.
Set up a dedicated space
Already have a home office space? Lucky you! If this is not something that you have already then make the most of a card table, kitchen table, or some other space that you can declare to everyone in the house, “this is where I work now”. Make sure you have plenty of room with good natural light and strong access to your internet connection. This is a great time to try using a stand-up desk and if you do not have that option be sure and get a quality chair since the one you have now may not be designed for long term sitting.
Remove possible distractions
It can be easy to drift away from work and lose time to the constant stream of news that is blasting from the TV, the movie the children are watching or your various social media outlets. If these are a possible issue, turn them off and be sure your workspace is not near the temptation. There is no need to cut yourself completely off, just be reasonable with the amount of time. Have trouble staying away from the phone, use digital wellbeing, and other similar tools to set limits to your social media accounts.
Establish clear boundaries and rules with others at home
Working from home now is different than the old remote worker normal. Many employers before had clear rules for work from home employees including what to do about barking dogs, kids at home, and distractions. These rules will return but in this temporary world hopefully, most are providing some understanding and flexibility. At the same time, it will benefit you and the others at home to have clear communication to understand when you are working and when you are available. A good thing here is to transfer much of the same discipline you are using over to the children as they “work” as well on chores and learning activities. If your work area has a door, consider posting a schedule so your new co-workers can be aware of important times when you will be in meetings and do not want to be interrupted.
Take a shower
At first working from home can seem like a terrific form of a staycation with sweatpants, comfy shirt and lack of hygiene requirements. Even Ferris Bueller took a shower on his day off. The wake-up routine of getting ready for work combined with some decent casual clothes will help with the mental transition into work mode by providing a clear transition from not at work to at work.Those ratty sweatpants are a message to your mind that you are not at work and instead have moved to casual mode. Plus, with the extensive use of conferencing through cameras, it is still important to be mindful of your personal branding to demonstrate your level of professionalism.
Create goals and checklists
It is always important to have a plan and to know when your todos have moved over to done. Without some set goals for the day, it can be too easy to lose focus, let the day slip by, and then by the end have no idea what was accomplished. Let your checklist help to bring a smile as you reflect back on your accomplishments at the end of another day of work.
This is best to do at the end of each day and then again at the start of the next next. When you reach your stopping point, reflect on what you accomplished and then sketch out some goals for the next day. The following morning, it is time to tweak the plan with a few clear goals for the day.These goals should involve more than just work productivity as you will want to…
On average, I would walk at least two miles during the normal course of the day. The restroom was well down the hall and so was the breakroom with coffee and people for a quick personal chat. At home, things are more compact and it can be way too easy to get into work mode and have very little physical change.
Our minds are wired to work best in chunks. At least once an hour it is a good idea to do a quick walk around the house just to clear the head. Watch the health too as it can be very tempting to snack throughout the day due to easier food access. You will regret the bag of chips when it comes time to slip on the work clothes and you find you have expanded.
Take a break
Yes a real break, this means at lunch to step away from the desk and do something very different. You could go for a nice walk around the block, spend some time interacting with your new co-workers (kids, dog, cat), or just do anything that is not work-related.
Understand, it is okay to step away from the computer. Trust is especially important for WFH teams and your team will know the work is getting done even if you are away from your desk. If you are on a more structured team as far as requirements, make sure your lunchtimes and break times are clearly communicated with the team and manager. That will leave you with no guilt feelings or worry when away.
Continue to collaborate
With the tech we have access to, there is no reason at all to work alone in a silo. Stay in touch with peers on your team with daily check-in calls, frequent e-mails or IM chat groups. This includes people from the fringes of your work circle as well. Out of sight can be out of mind and so this is a good time to reach out to experts in areas of the organization that may be able to provide you with insight or assistance.
Thousands of years of norms have wired us to live in tribes. It is not natural to be alone all the time and complete social isolation can have a negative impact on mental health. For your work tribe, take time to have non-work talks and sharing during a meeting. Consider a virtual webcam happy hour where work talk is banned and all the time is spent being personal.
What a great time to actually build deeper personal connections with your working peers and experts in your profession. Many teams are going deeper with each other with virtual team happy hours and other fun ways to get personal. Every day now is a bring your kid, cat, dog, fish to the workday. Keep these happy hours as a work-free zone and use them to build personal connections with each other.
If using a webcam, keep in mind that not everyone may have the same level of workspace. This means not being judgemental of what you may see as you peak into the home of another. With that said, it is a good idea to test your camera view in advance to ensure what will show up behind you is work appropriate. Some video conferencing applications like Zoom and Teams allow you to modify backgrounds. If that is a concern, give it a try.
Plan a hard stop
If non-exempt, do not forget the rules regarding hourly work continue to apply. This means work should occur during the scheduled times and any work outside the agreed-upon boundaries should result in compensation. Just be sure and follow the guidelines you have been provided or ask for them if you do not have any. Most employers will ask for advance permission to work outside of expected hours just as they did before the move to working from home.
For the exempt employee, stopping can be a difficult challenge since work is now always just a few steps away. The temptation to never stop can be strong for work from home employees especially if other teammates seem to always be online. As a team, this is a good opportunity to ensure it is understood that work is not intended to be 24X7. This is not the time to get into every day and every hour work habits as it is not healthy for you or for your family.
Working from home can be a wonderful experience if treated with a positive attitude and strong discipline. You can get through this and may even find yourself thriving in many unexpected ways.
These are just a few tips based upon my work from home experiences. What about you? What are some of your top tips that you would share with others?
Last year I created a video and wrote a blog post challenging people to start each day in a state of gratitude and to write down their thoughts of thankfulness.
Now with the growing pandemic and fear about where this is going to take all of us I see gratitude as more important than ever. I have to be honest. At the start of all of this, I went into full got to work hard and got to stay focused mode. I forgot for a very short time to take my own advice and spend some time each day reflecting and be thankful.
Gratitude is the enemy of fear. No matter what others may be feeling or maybe doing, for each of us there are many reasons to be thankful. This morning I pulled up my list and the memories flooded back on of the past times and people that have brought such joy in my life even when times were hard. Reading the list and reflecting on all the years of good resulted in a wave of joy and positivity.
Have you got gratitude? Are you clear on the many blessings that are in your life even as the world around you is not what it was just a few short weeks ago?
Now is the time to take inventory of all that is good and thank the world around you. So here we go, time again to throw out the gratitude challenge. Start your list, share your thoughts and for goodness sake reach out to those around you that may be hurting and let them know they mean something and have a future.
What a time we are living in with the Covid-19 virus hysteria that is in progress where I live and around the country. It seems that things are changing almost minute by minute and for sure what we have been experiencing is historical. There has been a stock market crash, rush to buy goods including toilet paper, “social distancing” requiring events and businesses to close down. Now millions of people are working from home and schools are closed. The list just goes on and on.
It is not an exaggeration to say this feels very much like a fictional disaster movie.
Group panic and group fear is a real thing. It is not out of the question to imagine people fighting over food items as this has happened already over–toilet paper. Meanwhile, there are even fake news stories out there about things that have not occurred which are intentionally trying to magnify hysteria.
With a state of emergency declared, it would not be surprising to next see for the first time in our lifetime the military out in key areas where panic is possible like hospitals, grocery stores, and critical supply chain locations. Again, this is not a movie or a new Netflix series. It is all real.
All of this for some reason made me think of my wilderness first aid training I took years ago as a Scout leader. In the training, we were taught during a crisis, often the situation is made even worse by poor decisions taken while in a state of distress. Scouts have a great model for this that applies really well in other stress situations especially including what we are experiencing now. When in crises–S.T.O.P.
Sit— Often when there is a crisis in the wilderness the person will panic, take off running, and end up even more lost than before. The key here is to quit moving and take a pause. Often doing nothing is the best way to be rescued. Sounds a lot like staying home in this current situation huh?
Think–Now that a state of calm has been achieved, it is time to do some deep thinking and begin the process of rounding up years of skills, experience, and training to help formulate a plan. There have been many catastrophes throughout history and yet we are still here. This too shall pass.
Observe–This is a critical skill to measure the surroundings to identify and additional dangers that may be in the area and better yet additional resources that may be around to help. Be an optimist but also take care to follow all the guidelines provided but the real experts. This is not a time to make up your own answers about the future and what to do in the present.
Plan–This is where the real work starts. Where others may panic and make the situation worse, now is the time to make a detailed plan for you and your family. No, the sky is not falling but at the same time, you do want to be ready for the impact created by those who think it is.
What we are going through now and for the next several months could be some of the worse times ever experienced in our generation. It is the time to remain calm and know that whatever is happening now and whatever is going to happen will pass.
Years from now, we will all look back and remember how we reacted. These memories can be of how we kept our cool and used our gifts to help those around us or they can be memories of how we contributed to the negativity. Every day is going to be a choice.
Make sure your choices are such that you will be proud years from now when you are sitting joyfully in your family circle to say, “here is what I did when the world went crazy”.
The New Year for many people brings a desire to set goals. The most popular of course is usually related to fitness. Other popular goals include reading more, learning more, being a better parent, getting out of debt and on and on.
Getting the right information to make all of these things happen can be difficult. For me, one of my best growth tools over the years has been listening to podcasts. A podcast is great for the convenience of listening while on the go and the vast variety of topics make it an ideal source for learning things that might normally be out of your wheelhouse.
I have many favorites and thought I would share mine in case you might be looking for some new outlets of curiosity in 2017.
The Art of Manliness: An eclectic podcast covering a variety of topics specifically targeted for men. Based on Tulsa, the host Brett McKay graduated from the University of Oklahoma so you know he is going to be great.
Ted Radio Hour: Just about everyone has heard of TedTalks. The Ted Radio Hour is a bit of a greatest hits type program that features a variety of talks and interviews of the speaker. A much deeper experience than just listening to a talk.
Snap Judgement: A favorite while on a walk, master story teller Glynn Washington and his amazingly talented team share stories that are engaging and in many ways eye opening.
Coaching for Leaders: I try to listen to this one often as the topics, guests and conversations have provided me many great best practices to improve my skills as a leader.
Stuff You Should Know: Ever wonder about the history of porta-potties? Why Easter Island’s Civilization Collapsed? What about how a Lighthouse works? Hosts Chuck Bryan and Josh Clark discuss random topics that are surprisingly interesting. The added benefit is that you will know a lot of useless trivia to annoy all your friends at your next party.
Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast: Craig Groeschel is the pastor of Life.Church which has lead the church world with innovation including being one of the first multi-site churches, offering the most downloaded free app in history, church online and more. In his podcast he shares the secrete sauce of leadership he has learned and is still learning along the way.
The Tim Ferris Show: I discovered this podcast very recently and have instantly become a huge fan. Tim Ferris is excellence obsessed and he uses his interviews to glean the best practices of high achievers from a wide variety of disciplines. I like this podcast so much that I got his new book as gift for my college age son for Christmas and I am working my way through all of his past shows.
ITunes makes podcast listening easy and if you are an Android user like me I suggest the Stitcher App as a good choice.
Got a favorite podcast that you would add to my list? Leave a comment and share.
The calendar has turned to a New Year and as usual for a lot of people I am spending time today being reflective of the year that was and the year that is to be. I started 2016 once again in the middle of the work storm of layoffs. In my 20+ year career with my employer I have survive an estimated 11 of these and they never get easier. Good came from this experience as it was the final factor to motivate me to fulfill a long time goal of getting the SRHM-SCP certification.
Basically this is a competency test for HR professionals and I jumped in to take the highest level of the exam. Fear of failing the test and excuses around the time needed to study had kept me from this goal for many years.
I will never forget those moments in the car right before going into the testing center as I sat in nervous anticipation. A couple of hours later my hands shook as I waited at the computer for my results.
Yes I passed and as I stared at the screen it was hard not to shout out in joy even as I wiped a tear from my cheek.
So what was the big deal? Would I get a promotion as a result of this? No. Would I get a pay raise? No. Would there be a big celebration and recognition from peers or my company? No again. The big deal for me was simply meeting a challenge that required hours and hours of work in advance that may or may not have resulted in success. I was energized by the process.
Now I have a certificate to hang on the wall. No one seeing it will ever grasp the years of experience and the hours of study it represents.
I have met many goals in the past that at the start seemed questionable. Marathons, triathlons, duathlons, Master’s degree, debt freedom, surviving stage 4 cancer and the list goes on. The end result has more often not been a celebration but instead a big question of “what next?”
I will have to be honest. There is a big part of me that wishes I could just be satisfied with the now result. Instead within moments a sense of let down and dissatisfaction steps in boarding on depression really. Many prayers have be dedicated to this aspect of my personality.
Today thinking of the year that is yet to be I am left wondering about the next big next for me. My list is long and detailed with at least one or two goals that once again seem questionable in my ability to make them happen. The good news is that thanks to my obsessive goal setting I know my track record indicates that with hard work and focus I will succeed. The bad news is that I know my track record also indicates that the result will only bring temporary satisfaction.
A goal for 2017 is to ride a total of 3,500 miles or more
Nonetheless I will press on. God wired me this way and my curse is also my blessing to be embraced.
What about you? Do you know your next big next? Very few people seem to have goals and even fewer seem to have a plan to make them happen. Me, I can’t a imagine life without a forward reach. When I am goalless I am lost.
Do not let fear of not making it or worse fear of what happens next keep you from taking that first step.
Your goal does not have to be climbing a mountain or winning that promotion. Instead it can be small like that phone call to a long lost friend you have been putting off or that choice for a salad lunch today. Don’t start off going to win the war. Start with a small victory or a spectacular failure. Just the fact that you tried will mean that you have pressed on. You unlike most people decided to try.
I hope that 2017 will be your best year yet. Find your next big next and go for it.
It is hard to wrap my head around that number thinking how long I have been with my employer as of today. I joined just five years of working after graduating college to be part of something that at that time was totally new.
Prior to 1996 by law there were only two wireless carriers in each town. That helped things remain stable as this newfangled technology was growing and at the same time limited competition. The government decided more players in the marketplace would reduce prices and increase innovation. Of course the billions of dollars that were to be made in the spectrum auctions were not a bad thing either for Uncle Sam.
I was working for one of the two at the time and thought it would be exciting to be part of a ground up new start opportunity.
During these last many years I have been part of a lot of changes. I stepped into this company as a newlywed and soon had a house, a son and a growing set of responsibilities and challenges that come with maturing.
In my work life, I saw a growth of technology and an evolution of my skills thanks to being part of a dynamic industry. I encountered opportunities to explore my abilities and found a path that led me in career areas I would not have imagined early on.
I also experienced the full corporate lifecycle with explosive growth, maturity, decline and now (hopefully) growth again. My job titles and roles have changed many times as the organization changed. Co-workers have come and gone. CEOs have come and gone. In the last fifteen years, there has been turmoil and changes with layoffs occurring on average once a year or more.
As a manager I have hired people, fired people, laid people off, celebrated promotions, celebrated life events and consoled life tragedies of peers, managers, and subordinates.
In a work world where now the average worker changes employers every 4.6 years according to the U.S. Department of Labor, I am an anomaly as are the many others I know that are long time employees here.
Through it all I have remained singular in my corporate life for reasons I am not sure I even understand.
So how does one stay at one employer for so long, through so much change and still stay engaged, challenged and growing?
Know your purpose
My purpose, mission statement or whatever you may want to call it has evolved over the years as my interests and roles have changed. What has remained the same however is that I have consistently taken time to define why I work and then have used my why as a magnet to pull me forward in my actions and in my growth.
The tumultuous life that is the ever-changing world of the wireless industry has resulted over time in a need to constantly adjust my brand as organization shifts. Having a true north by knowing my why has provided focus even when all else around me is seemly in chaos.
Grow your skills through opportunity
My undergraduate degree is in Government from a small regional state college. Not exactly the credentials that will land you that high-level corporate position right out of the gate. Fortunately, work has provided many growth opportunities through in the trenches experience and formal learning programs. Even better, once I locked into my career path I was able to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program to go on to a master’s degree in my field of work and later a senior-level certification. All debt-free and reimbursed by my employer.
“I don’t believe in luck, I believe in preparation” –Bobby Knight
Having faced many staff reductions over the years, I would like to say that each time I was chosen to continue it was due to my skills and my performance outcomes. While I have confidence in those areas, I have at the same time stayed prepared. I am always striving forward, learning and keeping an eye on the external market for new ideas as well as the skills that others see as valuable.
Just as importantly, I have worked to stay forward thinking and positive through good relationships with those in the organization that are influencers and performers. I believe you learn best from those that are excelling in what they do.
Most importantly, I have continued to believe in the future. I have steadfastly held that no matter what change may come my way I will be able to handle it and the outcome will result ultimately in a positive impact.
We get back from the world and our careers what we put into it.
No longer after twenty years is there a reward of gold watches, celebrations, pension and retirement. Instead, the work continues so, therefore, I will quietly go about my day and press on while giving my best to the future that has yet to be revealed.