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?
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.
My buddy A-town (Andrew) left a very intelligent comment in regards to my last post, “Perfect Rests in a Shade of Grey”. He discusses the idea of harboring personal skills and efforts with the goal of building your own enterprise. In other words: Get out of the rat race, stop trading hours for dollars, and start building a revenue generator of your own. Angel and I have discussed this idea on several occasions, and we have also shared these thoughts with some of our closest friends. Most of us will agree that pissing 50% of your life away fulfilling someone else’s initiatives pretty much sucks. All your efforts are feeding into someone else’s dream, and making them rich while you just grow older.
I’ve recenly been employed by two different successful start-up companies. The time spent at these companies has given me the opportunity to meet some really sharp people with clever business ideas. But, none of these people are the next Albert Einstein. These are average individuals who had an idea, nurtured it, and converted into a small enterprise. When I look around my inner circle I see genius. I see IT professionals, business/finance majors, sales/marketing managers, computer programmers, real estate gurus, information security analysts, etc. These people are brilliant, talented, skilled, and capable… and someday they need to unite in an effort to build a revenue generating dream of their own.
Here’s an excerpt from A-town’s comment:
…I think the best color for the middle ground we are looking for is the color yellow. Yellow is the odd ball. It’s out of the ordinary, something wild, something between white and black. I still think the only way to get everything you desire out of a job is to break out and start something yourself. Be out of the ordinary. Don’t just work a job like everyone else. Create a job that everyone else wants to be a part of…
Everyone is on the endless quest for utopia. We all want the perfect relationship, the perfect home, or the perfect job. It’s pretty common to hear someone spit out a canned phrase like: “You should be grateful for what you’ve been given!” I believe this statement holds truth… and I’m grateful. I know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and things could always be a lot worst. Yet somehow I still got caught off guard.
I recently made a career change, and I’m not saying I made a mistake, because I didn’t. My new career is pushing me in a positive direction. However, there has been a faint void in certain areas that used to be whole. These voids came unexpectedly because I never stepped back to absorb the big picture. I worked in a fast paced environment where the phones were always ringing, week long business trips for a Wednesday morning departure were planned on Tuesday night, and the deadline was always 10 minutes ago. Work weeks typically hit 55 hours… this wasn’t just a job, it was a lifestyle. I felt overworked and underpaid… the sentiment of being a day late and a buck short 99% of the time.
My colleagues and I yearned for a break and dreamed of a job that wasn’t so demanding. We unanimously agreed on a framework for the perfect job. Daily tasks would be based on extremely long term goals, only 15% travel time, the phones would rarely ring, no more working weekends, a 20% raise, and the job should consume a whopping 38 hours each week. This all seemed far fetched… Of course, that was until I landed a new job that fit the sketch of our dream.
I’m not dreaming. I’ve been working at my new job for 3 months now and it fits the sketch to a T. It meets all the bullet points of our “perfect job” framework. At first I was ecstatic… life seemed blissful. But then a subtle irk arose, a slight feeling of stress and discomfort. Certainly I couldn’t be feeling overworked and underpaid. So what was it? The phones don’t ever ring. I’ve been sitting in the same chair for 3 months and receiving praise from my superiors. I’ve never been told to work over the weekend. There haven’t been any major business trips. And every Monday morning I know exactly what needs to be accomplished for the remainder of the week. Then it hit me… the bullet points to the “perfect job” were starting work against me and I actually missed the unpredictability of my old job.
This irking feeling is directly related to my new work environment, but it’s not because the new job is bad, it’s because I expected it to be perfect. The source of the problem really lies in the fact that my old colleagues and I dreamed of a job environment that represented the exact opposite of what we currently had. We were drenched in Black and eager to dive head first into White. We knew Black wasn’t perfect, but we failed to recognize that White wasn’t either. As with anything in life, “perfect” usually rests somewhere between the extremes. This may seem like common sense, and in retrospect I agree. Yet somehow while I was cruising down the fast lane of life I didn’t see it coming. I guess it’s true, hindsight is always 20/20… and perfect is the enemy of good.