Life’s funny (said the wise professor). It’s totally unpredictable, but so much of it can be, if not predicted, at least planned for.
I know that this uncertainty makes most of my PR Concentration students at Curry College a little crazy. They want life to be like the syllabus that each of their professors provides for each class they take…“on XXX date, we will discuss this…on YYY date, you will be tested on that,” etc., etc., etc.
I’ve taken this holiday respite to reflect on my own meanderings through life. Although there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of actual planning that went into stuff that I did, I actually did have certain personal goals that I wanted to accomplish.
First off, whatever I was going to do, I wanted to be able to look someone straight in the eye and say proudly, “I am a……”
Yeah, there were a couple of part-time, meh gigs that I did in between my Air Force years and my civilian life. But I knew they were part-time and there was a reason for doing them. But every single professional career opportunity that I took on was something that I knew I could learn from and could make a difference somehow.
Looking back? My hapless students hear the stories until they’re ready to cry. I talk about almost every single job I’ve had in one or another class as a way to emphasize or clarify something that’s being discussed. I don’t hang my head in shame when I talk about these experiences…I brag about them!
Which leads to the second goal…I wanted to make a difference.
Now this wasn’t as clear-cut as it might seem. How, exactly, do you “make a difference”? I had to get inside the organization and figure out just exactly what I could do that either had never been done or had not been done very well. Then I had to establish myself as someone who actually could do what he said he would do.
My favorite example here (okay, students, you can take a nap here…you’ve heard this story) is the Army Intelligence School where I took an organization with literally zero public awareness and, by the time I moved on, had gotten media coverage in everything from the hyper-local Fort Devens Dispatch to the Boston Globe to the Department of Defense’s globally-distributed newspaper Soldier Sailor Airman Marine. People knew who we were!
My final goal was/is something I talk about again and again…I didn’t want to get myself into a position where I would stagnate…where I wouldn’t be able to learn something new.
Again, nothing new here for anyone who knows me. I take advantage of as many local opportunities as possible offered by the Boston Chapter, Public Relations Society of America; Publicity Club of New England; Boston Chapter, International Association of Business Communicators; Boston Chapter, National Investor Relations Institute and others. And I participate in countless online webinars offered by PRSA as well as subject-matter experts whose work I admire and know I can learn from.
And this is what I hope I’ve passed on to the amazing young men and women who, either on purpose or by accident, have wandered through one or more of my classes over the past 15-plus years…
Don’t settle. Believe in yourself and be proud of all that you do. Put your heart into your work and always be looking for ways to make whatever it is you do even better. And don’t get “stuck in a rut.” Always look for the “lesson to be learned” from what you’re doing.
For me, its’s not over yet. There are still figurative (I’m terrified of heights, so…) mountains to climb, and I am confident there are organizations or people who might benefit from what little knowledge I might have. And, most important, there is so, so much still to be learned.
Here’s to a fabulous 2017 and many succeeding and successful years to come!