Your Career and You: “Running for the Bus”

Publication1Classes have started for the fall semester at Curry College where, as a member of the Communication Department, I head the Public Relations Concentration. That translates into a whole new herd of wide-/bleary-eyed students ricocheting from class to class trying to work out some sort of manageable daily routine.

Their feeling of “OhMyGodWhatHaveIDone?” kind of hit home for me this morning as I was doing my own regular commute routine and was running to catch an incoming subway.

Grade school lasts for a lifetime. You start off about the same time you took the training wheels off your bike, and it comes to a crashing end around the time you get your driver’s license.

Then, just when the fog has lifted from your graduation night revels…COLLEGE STARTS!!

You thought you had some idea of what math, history, and English were all about. THEN you find yourself sitting in a class taught by a professor who WROTE A BOOK about the subject.

This raises the “OMGWHID” level to whole new heights, and the temptation to curl up in a corner of your (no-longer-private) room with your teddy bear washes over you.

Especially with my own advisees, most of whom have tentatively decided that public relations is the career path they want to pursue, I say ever-so-gently, “Welcome to my world!”

Life is kind of like that. Sometimes you’re snuggled up with your security blanket; then you’re staring at a “to-do” list that sits on your shoulder and bites your ear once in a while.

Frankly, as I also say to my disciples, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Granted a little peace and quiet helps. But I tend to get bored very quickly when it gets too peaceful and too quiet.

Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest of six children, and I grew up in an environment where there was always something going on. I just assumed that that was the way life works.

I’m not advocating total and absolute uncontrollable pandemonium every single minute of every single day. Unrealistic, unreasonable, and unproductive.

But you really need to keep the creative juices percolating, which means that you need to find or create new and exciting challenges to tackle.

The old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is wise advice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t “tinker” with something a smidge and maybe improve results.

As an intern working for the US Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Public Affairs Office, I was once assigned to the Command’s Publications Branch to learn editorial skills.

One part of our daily routine was doing reading level assessments on every training manual draft that was in the process of being published. Simple enough. The folks in the group had a formula of sorts that they used, and it seemed to work fine.

But I was curious. What if…? How could…?

So, after working with the old formula for a while, I created a new formula, based on the existing one, but in what was to me a more efficient format.

At first my professional colleagues were skeptical, but they also were willing to try new things.

What happened?

They found that my new “tinkered” version enabled them to reduce turn-around time on reading level tests by more than 25 percent! Huge time savings!

And the point, Kirk, is…?

It’s easy to get in the comfortable rut of “that’s the way it’s always been done” and slip into unthinking autopilot. And that’s where you’ll stay…comfortably numb in your unchanging routine.

But you’re not going to go anywhere. You’re going to wake up years later to the reality that you’re doing the same things you were doing at the beginning…and basically at the same level with the same responsibilities. No movement. No growth. Nowhere.

Bit of advice here. Don’t do that. Look for new challenges. Be curious. Ask the “why” questions. Ask the “what if” questions.

Success in life…success in business…does not come from sitting around with the career motor in idle. Success is realized by moving…by doing…by running for the bus!

Why? Because, like your missed promotion, the next “bus” might not show up!


About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
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