I like to share those stories because they inspire us to believe that people can change the course of their lives, despite seeming challenges and obstacles. But I like to share other stories as well – those that are less life changing but just as significant to those of us that live them. These people are successful not because they make a radical change, but because they make a carefully considered decision not to. Then, they make the best of it, with positive attitude, strong work ethic and the ability to keep dreaming.
I am lucky to know one such person. I met her almost 15 years ago at my old job, when we were both starting out in the same department. Over the years, she has become more of mother/grandma figure to my family, with her steady presence in my life, and now my children’s lives throughout our milestones, celebrations and traditions. She is a rock I can always depend on to be there, but what I most admire about her is her outlook on life.
I know her well enough to know that she spent her life in a career that was not a natural fit. She worked up steadily from job title to job title, from department to department, slowly climbing the career ladder, but never stopped dreaming about someday taking up more artistic pursuits. Dedicating herself to her hobbies full-time was not a real possibility, although it was always in the back of her mind. Not one to begrudge life, she never allowed her circumstances to affect her ability to give her best to her day job and to those that came in contact with her.
This summer I went to her retirement party. There were people there from the various departments where she spent her career, from junior to senior level – all of them came to thank her for her years of dedicated service and to wish her well on her new chapter. It was touching. You could see that she would be missed.
A couple of weeks ago, she came to visit me to catch up. We talked about her new life and how she is now pursuing her hobbies with gusto and has plans to begin selling her art on-line. I was excited to hear about her new life phase, but what nearly brought me to tears is when our topic of conversation turned to our old job, and she spoke with a deep sense of pride of the impact she felt she made through the years.
I sincerely wish that all of you feel that sense of pride after years of working, whether it’s in your dream career, or at a job that is less emotionally fulfilling but no less important.
I would think that is how one experiences success.