Although I enjoyed my job most of the time in High School and college, there were times I didn’t. While everyone else was enjoying their weekend, I was schlepping crates of milk from the back cooler and stocking the shelves. In the process, you had to pull all of the old milk from the back of the shelf and put the new stuff in the front.
Sometimes I stocked the Frozen section. Nothing is more embarrassing than having zits and wearing a red smock and being seen by the other kids in your class, while filling shelves with frozen pizzas. Usually they just snickered and kept walking. Occasionally they’d acknowledge me with the wave of a hand. I might as well have had a big ‘L’ tattooed on my forehead.
Soon after I stopped working for Grand Union in 1995, they offered an incentive. It wasn’t much, just a couple thousand dollars, but as a young college student I could have used it. It would have been fun to take the summer off and sleep in until noon everyday, all the while having disposable income.
But then there’s foresight. That moment when you decide to keep moving forward come sink or swim. It’s what separates the wheat from the chaff in the world of success. Be it determination, fortitude, call it what you want, there’s something to setting your course and pressing on.
I decided to do that recently. The path I was on was pleasant and fulfilling, yet I decided to strike out for new territories beyond my comfort zone, professionally. Again, there was no buyout.
But there was buy-in. I bought in to the idea that it was something God wanted me to do. That was enough, always has been. Sometimes what doesn’t look good on paper, makes perfect sense otherwise. Sometimes the best thing is a change.
However, when the newness and excitement of your adventurous decision wears off, you’re left to figure out what you have to do to get out of the quicksand you’ve jumped into.
In my case, there were new hours, new days off, new people. At times I felt like I was in a video game looking for shortcuts and secrets. Occasionally there were hidden treasures, but most of the time there was a lot of struggle. It’s a real challenge when you go from total competence to relative incompetence.
Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about right now. You struck out in a new direction and sometimes you find yourself looking back over your shoulder. You think about going back to the place and time where things were predictable.
Here are a few lessons I’ve gleaned 60 days into my new journey.
It’s going to be o.k! If you’re like me, you need to know that right now. One time I went camping with my Dad and his friend for the weekend. We rode on the back of their motorcycles and pitched tents. We were young and it was pitch black the first night. Us kids were alone in the tent and the darker and later it got, the more sure we were that there were bears outside the tent getting ready to eat us. I’m older now and I’m not scared of bears. A lot of crumby things can happen, yes. But you have to keep fear at bay and your faith intact at the same time. Imagine how the men and women of the bible must have felt while going through their heartaches and trials. It’s going to be o.k. I promise.
Learning is fun! When you attempt new things, you learn new things. Your circle grows and so does your knowledge. You meet new people and they teach you new things. Sometimes what to do and other times what not to do. You learn their stories and fears and insecurities, philosophies, viewpoints and more. In some cases, they share exciting and innovative life strategies with you.
Your circle of influence grows! As you meet new people, you’re impact grows. Likewise, these people help you connect with their friends and networks. The choice is yours, you can remain living as a big fish in a small pond or you can become a small fish in a big pond. There used to be an old pond down behind the farm I grew up on. It was full of Catfish. The problem was they were all stunted. None of the fish were over 4 or 5 inches long. Sure you could catch a ton of them, but nothing huge. They were so small because they had no choice but to remain in the small, overpopulated pond they lived in. A pond with limited supplies of food and opportunities for growth. You’re not a fish. The choice is yours when it comes to pursuing new ventures. You don’t have to stay in the pond, there are oceans out there!
Your confidence will grow! Remember the first day of school? One poor kid I went to school with peed his pants every day before he got on the bus. He’s been dead now for many years now. He crossed over the median on a highway into oncoming traffic while being chased by the police.
New places, especially school, can be frightening. You have a new locker that’s hard to find and you pray everyday to crack the combination and find all of your classes. In the hustle and bustle your books sometimes get knocked out of your hands and lie sprawled out all over the floor. The good news is that as time goes by, your confidence grows. Slowly but surely you learn your way around and the new sights, sounds and people become familiar. Relax. You learned new environments in the past, and your going to assimilate with your new environment. One of these days you’re going to be able to give the new kid on the block a tour and show him the restroom so that he can put on fresh pants. Or not. Point is, as your confidence grows, you’ll be more likely to embrace fresh opportunities in the future. The more you do, the shorter the learning curve becomes and the more potential you have. The lessons and experience you’re gathering now will prove helpful in the future.
Your appreciation for the world we live in will grow! You’re going to find out that wherever you go, there are new people to meet and new places to see. And if you stay positive, you’ll find beauty all around you, no matter where you go. The good news too is that wherever you go, God is the same. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. And he’s created an amazing world. Whenever you get discouraged, just look up and when you do, you’ll find out that the view of the sky is the same no matter where you go.
My Dad used to take us fishing with Fibber McGee, a friend of his and when we asked Fibber why we weren’t catching as many fish as he was, he always said the same thing, “You have to hold your face right!” I remember wondering what he meant for years, he’d never tell us. Then one day I realized what he was saying. It was a flash of lightening. He was saying, “Whatever you do, keep a great attitude!” You have to believe before you receive.
I don’t know what you’re going through right now, but I do know this. Regardless of what it is, if you keep the right attitude and stay positive, things are going to turn out just fine. It all goes back to the Law of Reaping and Sowing. Keep planting good seed and good fruit will follow!
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”. Galatians 6:7