Search for Meaning

I recently attended an athletic awards banquet where recognitions were handed out and inspiring speeches were given by the coaches. It reminded me somewhat of a commencement ceremony. Some of the players were moving to a higher league and some were going to be back to the team next year. Those who were moving up seemed to pay more attention to the encouragement offered by their coaches’ speeches than those who would be back playing varsity next year. These older, more experienced players seemed more in need of words of wisdom than the younger players and I found that interesting.

Everyone needs encouragement in their lives and in their careers whether it’s the new graduate or the mature worker. Often, however, the mature workers are more likely to pay heed to words of wisdom than the new graduate. New graduates are blessed with that strange mindset of youth – they are invincible and need no advice. They know it all! It takes maturity to realize you don’t know it all, never will, and need all the help you can get to reach your goals.

This might explain the difficulty most resume firms have in selling the value of a well-written resume to the new graduate. Executives and experienced workers make up most of the resume market because their experience has taught them the value of good career marketing. They also realize that hiring an expert to create such an important document is money well-spent. New grads are just thinking about the new cars they are going to buy with their new income.

At the awards banquet, the speeches the coaches made were the usual thing about “wanting something badly enough to work for it” and “staying disciplined”. One coach said something I found interesting and as I thought about it, I realized it applied to careers, primarily in the framework of the new grad compared to the experienced worker. The coach said, “Football can be fun. It can also be rewarding. During the times when it is not fun, just remember the reward will come later and keep working.”

How often do people give up on a job when it is no longer fun and miss out on the reward of satisfaction at a job well done or a goal accomplished. Things that are fun are short-term entertainment. Things that are rewarding take a lot of work, a lot of patience, and sometimes some discomfort but the recompense lasts a lot longer.

I once interviewed a successful writer and I asked her what her most rewarding job had ever been. I fully expected her to say her current one – the one she had won all the awards and recognition in. But she didn’t. She said her most rewarding job was the job she had worked as a teenager as a veterinarian technician. She made $2.75 an hour and regularly got bitten by her patients. She had to clean up every kind of mess imaginable that could be produced by an animal. She got kicked, stuck with needles, attacked by mad felines, and caught lice from a 300 pound hog. But she said the times when she was able to help deliver puppies, piglets, and calves were so rewarding it surpassed the hard stuff. She said she’ll never forget holding the hand of a spider monkey during his last hours as he passed away from incurable cancer. Most of the time, her job was not fun, but it was deeply rewarding. It’s all in the meaning.

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