I am spending a few days in the hometown. A Town was a pretty good place to grow up.
I can walk outside, shut my eyes and almost smell a summertime of running bases, kick the can and one on one basketball games in the driveway with my brother (you make it…you take it). The last time I lived here was the summer of 1991. I had just graduated from college and the job market was pretty tough. I moved back home for a stretch to ease the transition from campus to career.
This didn’t sit too well with Dad. From where he stood moving home wasn’t part of the game plan. You finished school, got a job and stood on your own two feet like a man (his words). He would have loved this Bret Stephens open letter to the Class of 2012.
At the time I was selling baseball cards for beer money (it was actually a pretty lucrative sales gig) and had decided that after years of paper routes, washing dishes, cutting grass, waiting tables, tending bar etc. that this time around, with degree in hand, I was going to hold out and accept a job I really wanted to be doing. A job that offered me more than just the money.
With the baseball card business up and running I held out for 9 months. I finally accepted an entry level sales job with an Ad Agency and packed my bag for Minneapolis, MN. Holding out was a good decision for me. That first job was a catalyst for starting a career. Had it not been, I am pretty sure I would have walked out. The idea of working solely for the cash wasn’t in the cards, particularly when I knew those baseball cards could have covered my modest expenses until I landed work I really wanted.
Somewhere along the journey that changed. I settled down and settled in. It is an occupational hazard. Blend a little talent, tenure, the corner office and the responsibility of life and it gets easy to enter the safety zone. I actually became more than happy to trade my work effort for the cash. Satisfaction, meaning, alignment, passion and purpose seemed like frivolous pursuits for the young and naive (keep telling yourself that and you actually might start to believe it).
Nonsense. I was afraid. Fear is a powerful deterrent. After all, what if what’s next doesn’t work out?
Pushing through the fear and excuses that hold us back from doing whatever it is we want to be doing just once can put that in perspective. It’s worth it simply for the shift in attitude and action orientation that come when you are conquering something important or starting something new.
What if it doesn’t work out? So what! You’ll hit the reset button and go at it again another way. We all should hit reset a few times. After all, it’s good to pass a new test.
I can tell you it feels good to feel a little unsettled again. I am switched on about working on what is next and passing new tests. I have no doubt the next reset is right around the corner.
Besides, if it didn’t work out I might have just moved back home with Mom. I still have a huge baseball card collection and that home cooking is tough to beat!