I had a friend of mine look over my resume the other day.
The word he used to describe it was “impressive”.
- Practical leadership of hundreds of people. Check.
- Practical exercise programming and implementation/administration for departments of over 300 personnel. Check.
- Multiple military schools and other non-military degrees. Check
- License in Manual Therapy. Check,
- Too many certs to remember (some more worthless than others). Check.
I had to laugh.
I told him it was only impressive (and that word is used advisedly) because I’m old.
Now look, before you get all twisted up over this, I’m not saying 36 is old.
If we are to be realistic, I’m basically halfway through my lifespan, if I am to assume that I will live to be around 80 years old. Under no circumstances am I saying this to be morbid or depressive, but rather I am stating it as a simple fact. Although I have run into many people that obsess over existential issues, there seem to always be this irony that the aforementioned obsession doesn’t ever really lead to anything actionable. We dwell over our mortality, yet don’t use that as a springboard to reflect. We try hard to create the illusion of being great, but don’t do anything to actually excel.
I choose to face the fact that there is a very good chance that I’m halfway through this wild ride that has been my life. With this much time in the tank, it would be almost impossible to not have learned an impressive amount and experience an impressive amount.
(Although, admittedly, there are some people who manage to go an entire lifetime and never really learn a fucking thing, but that is a topic for another article, entirely. That, my friends, is also a choice: stagnation.)
Let me not get off track…
The reality is that most of what you see in that resume encompasses 36 years of being alive on this planet. Both the good, AND the bad.
In a similar conversation, a coach that I was consulting with remarked, after implementing some recommendations with a client: “Thank you for being good at what you do!”
By no means am I trying to project false modesty, but if I’m decent at what I do, it is because I spent years stumbling around in the dark and totally fucking things up. A lot. Sometimes I think my that my attitude towards “failure” has less to do with what I’ve seen in the literature and more to do with the fact that I NEED to have that attitude or I would pull my hair out while suffering through all of the monumental mistakes I make. If mistakes were that catastrophic, I would have offed myself years ago.
Leadership, coaching, training, massage – All of the success that you see on my resume is only the sum of years of attempting to learn stuff, only to figure out that I didn’t know enough stuff, and had to learn more stuff. In the end, really, when you was look at that piece of paper, it’s a culmination of many mistakes in my life. Getting thing right isn’t necessarily learning, but rather the course corrections you have to make when you miss the mark are where the learning happens. Learning is painful, didn’t you know that?
36 years of mistakes.
What I know is that your life, just like mine, is only going to be the summation of the paths you chose to take, or chose not to take. This is not necessarily an easy undertaking.
Often times those paths are NOT clearly marked out.
More than one time the correct path wasn’t the most well lit one.
A few times the path was overgrown and jagged.
Too many times that I remember, the right path turned out to be a short tunnel, filled with broken glass that I had to crawl through and somehow manage to come out clean and unscathed on the other side. If I’m being honest, only a few times was the path completely clear, and those times that the path was completely clear and laid out for me…dumb luck.
Because, yes, sometimes being in the right place i the right time is also part of the equation, and I’d be full of shit if I told you that some of my success was because I happened to be the only guy standing there to do a job, so I ran with it an did it well. I’d argue that being a Chief Petty Officer in 9 years was one of these “dumb-luck” situations. Was I good? Yes. Was I ready? Nope.
But, really, when is someone truly ready?
As Vonnegut would say: so it goes.