Certainly a trait that is needed is resiliency. Fortunately the way of the spirit and the heart is stronger and abundantly more effective than any other power. The human spirit enjoys an amazing resiliency and an incredible capacity to begin again each day no matter what. The capacity and willingness to reeducate and move along with the flow is fundamental to ongoing success and adaptability.
In my own world I was educated with a liberal arts college background and once thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I started out like many as a paperboy. I matriculated to a more profitable business of cutting neighbors’ grass and then taking care of their yards. This led to starting a landscaping business at 15 with my brother, which I later built into a high-end residential and small commercial construction business for a number of decades. We started as a way to earn extra money and save for college. It turned into a way of life in that I can combine my personal and professional passions. After a bout with cancer and being unable to work construction anymore, I was moved and forced to take stock of my skills and begin again with a new career in my early 40s.
I learned that the skills, education, and life experiences I possess are able to be transformed and indeed are transferable. A thought, personal mantra, and belief I have always held is that, “A seed can remain dormant for years. All it takes is the right amount of sun, water, and temperature to change it and cause it to grow. And then all at once it seems as if the world is in bloom.” I began nine years ago in the datacenter business and continue to work in the field today at the same company in a deeper, wider role.
Outsourcing, downsizing, and economic hard times captured a trend of the changing work force more than any phenomena recently. Oftentimes life’s hard hits or needs cause us to change and grow. Sometimes it is calling that can’t be quieted. It is a blessing when one can parlay their passions, gifts skills, and talents to move to a more meaningful type of working career.
Two men I interviewed for this piece both made radical career changes later in life after successful previous careers and training. Both made a move in their career paths to improve their quality of life and create and manifest a more meaningful life for themselves and those around them.
Meet former Air Force 1st. Lt., pilot, and intelligence officer, then advertising madman, and now high school teacher, middle school coach and Boy Scout leader Frank O’Grady. He currently coaches the seventh-grade Rocky River High School team and is an assistant Scout Master at Troop #421 in Fairview Park. He spent many years in a successful creative advertising career. The changing times in advertising and a calling to teach and coach moved him to serve others in a more meaningful way.
Meet William Welches. He holds a PhD in biochemistry and was a research scientist for a number of years before returning to medical school in his mid 40s. He was called to help others in a more meaningful and present way. He is now an osteopathic physician with board certification in family practice medicine. Bill has a specialized expertise in osteopathic manipulation. His area of specialty is pain management, using osteopathic manipulation, along with several programs including diet therapy and counseling, to help patients with their pain. His techniques and programs are integrated with those of his colleagues in the Pain Management Department to provide patients with comprehensive treatment.
Both men spoke candidly of some seeming universal themes in this delicate and important life affirming process of self actualization and change in ones career path and what drove them and pushed them on at mid life.
Key points to reflect on in career changes:
Be ready and willing to change and grow. Look inside, reflect, and ask others for help. The process entered into will pay rewards and add meaning to your life and those around you. Remember the words of Langston Hughes, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
Kevin Goodman is the managing director of business development and a partner with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-based data-center business. He can be reached at (216) 367-7580 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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