This I Know

A couple weekends ago I struggled to write a speech I was scheduled to give at Ferris State University (FSU).
True, I'd procrastinated, something I rarely ever do.  But I felt I had an excuse this time. I wasn't asked to speak about paper, this time I was asked to speak about "me".  Now I can talk about paper all day long, I don't even need a script....but talking about myself seemed so much harder.

To be specific, the speech was billed as how the talented duo of  Mike and Terri Spaulding reinvented themselves, and their jobs, in the age of online communications.

Yipes.

I was stuck on what a speaker should say to a group of graduating seniors that isn't boring, irrelevant or just the same old/same old. I wanted to be different, to be inspiring and to be remembered. My hopes were completely dashed when Alec's response to my practice speech on Sunday night was, "It was fine mom. It's just like every other guest speaker I've had in a class. You said all the right things."

Not at all what I wanted to hear.

Enter the piece of paper that changed my week.

There was a handwritten note in my mailbox when I got to work that Monday morning. It was, ironically, from an FSU student. She thanked me for a speech I had given the week prior about paper. In it, she mentioned my obvious passion for speaking about paper and how it helped her get 42/43 on her recent paper test.

And that little gesture sent me off in a completely new speech direction. I happily scrapped the old script and started anew. This time focusing on something I know, finding and following your passion. 

After all, my passion for paper has taken me on an almost 24 year journey. And I definitely had some things to say about that.

Start Your List
I suggested they start a list, right now about what things they know for sure about the job they want for the future. Things like, I don't want to work for a large corporation, or I want to work at job where I can see actual results, or I want to work in an office, not from home. I believe every experience a person has along the way to their journey of meaningful employment has the opportunity to teach them something, that is, if they are listening. And I think every person has a right to search out a position that suits them. A career that plays to their strengths, not emphasizes their weaknesses. Job responsibilities that give them satisfaction and empower them to want to do better. An employer that both listens to them, and motivates them.

A job should not just be a job to get you through to the weekend. That gets old really fast....

When you find it, you will know.
Think of it as a journey as you seek your passion. It isn't like the first job you take will be the last. You have to work at building your own brand, following through on new interests, keeping up with technology and the world around you, and someday all the things will align, and your real passion will be clear.

I encouraged them to take a step in one direction even if they are unsure, and not to be afraid to change their path if they find the first step they chose is not quite right. Always look ahead to see what is out there. I consider myself a realist in life, but one thing that I am quite optimistic about, is that entering the job market today as a college graduate opens up limitless possibilities of what they can do in the future. The job possibilities of the next 5-10 years might not even be defined yet. Imagine the opportunity to create your own path, carving out your own career based on your passions and strengths.

I'm so excited for them! I didn't have those kinds of options in front of me when I graduated from college.

Follow your passions, and your path will become clear.
Thank you Emily for recognizing the passion in me, and for helping me to find my voice in speaking about what I know.

So, have you started that list ?