I tend to write a lot about change – either causing it or dealing with it. Change is good. Change is natural. Change is what teaches us the ability to adapt to the never ending barrage of challenges life has in store for us. Like the opposable thumb separated us from the rest of the species on the planet, change is the great equalizer.
As a guy who is usually self- deprecating I have to admit that I have trained myself over the years to handle change well. Career, family, physical, business…. And not, you might think, simply because I refuse to change. I learned young in life that my ability to embrace change could be one of the things that separated me from those around me. There are leaders in the world and there are followers- equally as important- can’t have one without the other- but I was going to be a leader, and this is what leaders do.
So, I embrace change. Good for me. Now somebody teach me how to handle what comes next.
I remember vividly my Grandfather – a first generation American who was shinning shoes when he was 7- reminiscing about all of the careers he had through his lifetime. He would say emphatically; “get your education and the rest will come”. Was good advice for him and for me as children no matter the era. My Father came from a small town in northern Kentucky and moved to Detroit to work for “Ma Bell”. He used to talk about ’40 years and a gold watch’. That was how he was taught. I knew early on I would be a techie of some sort so it was “get your degree and work for IBM” – neither of which I did of course. Then somewhere in the 80’s it all changed. My Father, ironically my age now at that time, went through what was called a mid-life career change. He stumbled finding a path of passion for a bit but ultimately became uber successful in all the ways that matter, (the least of which he would say is financially).
My story is not going to fit in these pages, but as a ‘rebel with out a cause’ I was determined to NOT to do anything I was encouraged to do. I’ve had a job since I was 10 years old (thank you Freddy’s barber shop), and have reinvented myself many, many, many times. Both in corporate America and as an Entrepreneur, I’ve been fortunate to have numerous experiences and have been paid handsomely for most of them. A lot of smart people of my generation found the world shifting into the Information Age and adapted. Working at a think tank in Manhattan at the turn of the century was quite a coup for a guy from Detroit with no formal education. I have never been all that smart myself, but I surround myself with smart people, and it has served me well.
So through the decades, across the generations, my family has had diverse paths. There is no Family business, no legacy to carry on, no torch to pass. So what do I tell my Son?
I will gladly tell him all I know, and give all I have, for him to find his passion early in life and follow it.
Great. I’m human and I love my Son. Now, what might his path be and how do I help?
Seriously- anyone? I’m asking here… I am my own person- different than my Father before me- and it looks like my Son is of similar ilk. How can I encourage him about what he wants to be when he grows up when I haven’t figured it out myself yet?
I think the answer lies in what my Stepfather often told me. He would say repeatedly;
“I have no idea what it is you do for a living… and probably never will. But I don’t need to understand it to be supportive of it. I love you and I am here for you in any way I can be…”
And he was.
So shall I be.
Life is one big gray area- try to add color where you can.