I’m often asked…usually by my bleary-eyed undergrad Communication students at Curry College, where I head the Public Relations Concentration, but also by my grad students at Regis College, where I teach in the Organizational and Professional Communication area…how I manage to seemingly always be chipper and energized.
My response is invariably some rendition of “oceans of coffee.”
And, while I do slurp down about three mugs in the morning with my breakfast, that’s usually it for caffeinated stuff until…if the day allows…I settle back for “teatime”…a tradition born of marvelous days at the Peninsula Hong Kong.
“Coffee,” for me, is rapidly becoming a euphemism for “I lovemy work!”
And little has changed in my transition from public relations professional to public relations professor.
With only, perhaps, one instance in my professional career where I was genuinely miserable, the bulk of my working life…even when I was a civil engineering intern as a high school senior and college freshman back in the 60s…has been a wonderful mélange of challenges and learning opportunities that helped shape who I am.
Why? Because I was and am allowed and encouraged to try new things, to step outside my comfort zone and do stuff that I thought I didn’t know how to do.
Ø I taught “English as a Second Language” in Vietnam armed with a major in English/18th-century British Lit (and an M-16 semiautomatic rifle by my side).
Ø I catalogued (typed information cards for) roughly 1,000 films for a job with absolutely no clue as to what they were about…OR how to type…taught myself…which explains (if you could see me doing this) why I type the way I do!
Ø I’ve now been teaching undergraduate and graduate college courses for going on 10 years with no “formal” training in how to actually dothis…just relying on my love for my profession and pleasure that I get from passing on my knowledge.
The point of this rambling is to emphasize, as I do time and again, that I was doing and am still doing something that I genuinely love.
The challenges were…and are…invigorating. I have to get and hold attention, focus on detail, and present information that will be of use to students at some point in the (hopefully) near future.
What this means is that I have to be on top of my game…to be current and proficient in the technologies and techniques that comprise 21st-century public relations practice.
Which means that I can’t just load my camel at the end of a day of classes and head for the oasis of my wonderfully comfortable chair for a snooze.
I have to be combing the news, reading the professional publications, scanning the Internet in search of new and exciting things that have bubbled up to impact the public relations profession or public relations practice in some way.
What this means for you as a future public relations practitioner (or whatever your chosen field of endeavor will be) is that learning never stops.
Yeah, you won’t have to take exams (at least not those administered by evil professors on a beautifully crisp fall Monday morning) to test your absorption of knowledge.
Instead, you will be tested “real-time” by work requirements and work-related incidents that will try your professional knowledge and skills.
And your success or failure will affect your employer’s success or failure.
The lesson here, grasshopper, is to find your “coffee”…that shot of energy disguised as a profession that invigorates you…that gets you bouncing out of bed in the morning eager to get on with the day.
Find what you love doing and want to become what I refer to as “the world’s walking expert” in doing. Make it yours. Own your successes and learn from your mistakes.
And…a well-brewed mug of fresh-ground espresso doesn’t hurt!!
“Cato said the best way to keep good acts in memory was to refresh them with new.”
– Francis Bacon, “Apothegms” , no. 247