I’ve been actively studying for the CISSP certification exam (a requirement for my job) over the last couple of weeks. So, I’ve spent a significant amount of time reading on the fifth floor (nobody goes up there) of UCF’s main campus library. There really is something magical to be said about an educational atmosphere… I’m not speaking of a high school environment where disgruntled teenagers are stuck in an algebra class all day. I’m referring to a self imposed educational setting where literature is absorbed, friendly debates are convened, knowledge and information are in constant exchange, and people are truly eager to learn. It’s the kind of setting you feel lingering in the air on college campuses around the globe. It’s a conversation in the student union, a study session at the campus library, or two cents over breakfast at the cafeteria. Information is continuously swapped from mind to mind. The aura is contagious, and it shoots a stimulating sensation through your entire body. Just being there, surrounded by people engrossed in expanding their personal knowledge base… it feels so damn healthy. When you’re an undergrad in college you take it all for granted. Then, after you’ve graduated to the next step, you rapidly forget how invigorating education can be. Education is a form of self expansion. It should be an on-going, assiduous process… something many people seem to forget once they achieve their diploma. I’m guilty as charged. But now I realize what I’m missing, and I intend to learn from this oversight. Once I get the CISSP certification under my belt, I will begin to map out my next move.
Progression really is somewhat of a marvel. Everyone strives for some means to an end, yet most of us play it just safe enough to the point where we never exactly have the opportunity to snag the whole pot of gold. Certainly we acquire some of the gold along the way, but we never really thought the whole pot was a realistic option. We seem to be looking forward to the next step, but equally afraid of the risk or change that may result from the required actions. It’s the notion of knowing exactly what needs to be done, but lacking the nerve to do it; the apprehension to your aspirations. As I ramble on… I’m not explicitly referring to any one specific situation in this present moment. I just realize that Angel and I have so many objectives we desire to achieve. Some short term, some long term, and some of which are more complex than others. The end result will never be an issue of whether or not it was possible. The real question is: Are we prepared to get out from under the covers and step into the dark?
When I was 14 years old I had only one prized possession, my skateboard. My neighborhood buddies and I used to tear up the streets of South Miami on our skateboards every day after school and all weekend long. We would practice special jumps and tricks for hours until we had conquered them. On a weekly basis we would skate over to our local skate shop and gawk at all the high end skate decks, trucks (axels), and wheels. Every single time, like clockwork, one of us would start up a debate over the pros and cons to each brand, the best equipment, etc… And it always ended with a short discussion about the perfect “dream board”. We always used to say that someday, when we were rich, we were going to buy the “dream board”. Well, I’m in my mid twenties now, and while I would hardly consider myself to be rich, I could purchase fifty “dream boards” tomorrow. Of course, that’s not really a very compelling dream anymore.
The funny thing is that this shift in paradigms will continue to occur throughout the duration of our lives. What seems like the ultimate goal or dream of today, may not even tickle our fancy one year down the line. Maybe we will achieve the goal sooner then we originally thought, or maybe we will outgrow it all together. I outgrew my skateboard dream… and now ten years later I am again faced with the same dilemma.
When my previous employer offered me an opportunity to return, I was undeniably excited. They basically offered me everything I had yearned for when I was employed there… a damn good salary, a management position, less travel, etc. I only quit because I had pleaded, begged, and waited for some kind of forward movement, but got absolutely no indication that they were even considering it. So, I split and went on to find something that pushed me in a positive direction. Now I’m sitting here six months later and they’re offering me everything that I used to dream about. But I’ve already switched gears, and I’m no longer cruising down the same path. I’ve recently reestablished a new set of goals, and I find myself walking away from yet another dream… only because I’ve reset the bar higher and now dream of something greater. Here’s to the next step…
What would you do if you were in your mid-twenties and had to choose between two awesome job opportunities? What if one was located in Boston and the other one was in Orlando? What if one left you standing on the field next to Randy Moss during an NFL football game, while the other had you working on computer security for the Presidential Helicopter? What if one required you to give up 55 hours of your life every week, but the other one monotonously made you feel like you had worked 55 hours a week? What if one filled your time with exotic intangible benefits, while the other promoted paid education and promotion? What if one permitted you to interact with clients in a t-shirt and jeans, while the other made you dress up to sit in an office chair for 8 hours? What if colleague camaraderie was packaged with industry instability and tedious work environment was tied to elite job title? What if one made sense right now, but the other one was more practical in the long term? Would you live for now or prepare for later? We flew from Orlando to Boston in a desperate attempt to answer these questions. We will be in Boston for the next 48 hours…
Have you ever felt unappreciated? Have you ever felt like all your efforts are taken for granted? I know I’ve been down that road a time or two, and until recently I wasn’t sure my labors would pay off. But they did. Last week I was contacted by my previous employer. They basically told me I was a valuable asset, they were upset when I left, and that they are prepared to make me a substantial offer.
This caught me way off guard, and I’m truly struggling to assess my options. The catch 22 to their offer involves relocation. Angel and I would have to relocate to Boston. However, the offer is substantial. The money makes sense, they’re offering a management position, and I always enjoyed the intangible excitement associated with my old work environment. But my current employer is good too, and I’m in a position to move up the ladder there as well… not to mention the reluctance of relocating. It’s a tough one! Angel and I feel inundated with feelings of enthusiasm, fear, and change. So no decision has been made just yet.
Regardless of what we decide, one thing is certain… when I was out on the field giving it 110% and feeling like nobody noticed, I was wrong. They were aware of my efforts. They were watching from a distance. They have expressed their appreciation, and are now offering me the position I once yearned for. If nothing else, this has served as a life lesson. Be honest, be passionate, and put heart into whatever you’re working on. It won’t go unnoticed. Someday your name will be subliminally stamped on all your past efforts. When the time comes, make sure you’ll be proud to own up to them.