Outdoor hockey in Murray Park, lifelong friends, pick-up teams for any number of sports, “cheater’s proof”, and “do-over” – all these memories come to mind as I head to the South Side (also known as the Souf Side to Souf Siders) later this week to speak to the current students at my alma mater, Brother Rice High School in Chicago. It’s Career Day and I have volunteered to share my thoughts about my professional career and how it evolved.
The “do-over” was invented out of necessity. For those of you who are not familiar with baseball played with five players on each team, a hit to right field was an automatic out because we didn’t have enough players to cover that field. A “do-over” was the result of a ten minute argument over which side of an imaginary line a batted ball had fallen. Neither team would relent as to the rightful outcome so we would restart the game with the always acceptable “do-over.” At least we could move on - even though one whole team was sure that the ball was two inches into the right field area and the batter should have been out.
This nostalgia was sparked as I prepared my remarks for the students. How did I get where I am now from the hallways of Brother Rice. What decisions were made that determined my path. Did I let them happen or did I make them happen. What would I do differently? If I had a “do-over,” where would it be? I have evaluated all these thoughts in an effort to establish, if I were a high school senior now, what advice would be most valuable to me?
This has been a very fun process and I encourage you to try it. Recognizing the limited attention span of most high school seniors, I know my suggestions must be short, relevant, and interesting. Therein lies the key to successful public speaking for life (see, this is a useful exercise for everybody). The following is what I have decided to share.
1. Know who you are. All of us are hard wired as to our personal skills and talents. Outgoing, mechanically inclined, musically oriented, attentive to details, right brain, etc. The sooner you can honestly identify your personal portfolio, the more comfortable you will be at making decisions.
2. Establish your ethical compass now. Your moral standards will drive every decision you make and determine with whom you will associate. You must decide right now to be a person of integrity, as your future reputation is built on a foundation of your past decisions and actions.
3. Once you have made a career choice, be the very best you can be. Being a mediocre player in the middle of the pack is not as much fun as being the leader. The view from the driver’s seat is much better.
4. Learning never stops. Whatever your current occupation, whatever tool you use today will change dramatically over the course of your career. Life moves fast. Progress changes things. Don’t be left behind. Be active in the continuing learning process.
5. Failure is part of life. Everyone who has ever taken chances in life has failed occasionally. Most people will judge you not by the failure but what you did afterward. Did you get up and continue to invest in life or did you settle for less.
6. Business and/or your job are not the most important aspects of life. Make sure you take the time to build good friendships and other relationships. Invest at least some of your time and effort in the people you will love and be loved by for the rest of your life.
This list could be much longer but I am taking my own advice and keeping it short. If you have an addition you would like to suggest, now is the time. Feel free to twitter (@Irishman4hire) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org)your thoughts to me, preferably before 5th period, Wednesday.