During a recent podcast interview, host Terry Shepherd asked me what advice I would give my eighteen-year-old self. Frankly, I was stumped. My reply was that I would say ‘yes’ when asked to take on a task or project that I was unsure I could master. Later, I would freak out and get scared. It wasn’t until I was in my late thirties that I adopted this philosophy.
This mantra has served me well. When unemployed and looking for work, I networked with Dr. Marie Dalton, who was, at the time, head of continuing education at San Jacinto College. She asked if I wanted to join her in writing a textbook. I said “yes” which, in retrospect, was astounding. Most textbooks are written by professors, and I wasn’t even employed. Another person joined us. The textbook, Human Relations 4th ed. has been on the market since 1990 and is still selling.
Not all things I jump into are successful, but enough of them are to reinforce this way of thinking.
What took so long? Why hadn’t I thought this way earlier? After looking over my life, I realize the strength our culture has to mold us. I grew up in a strange household where my brother and I were treated as equals. I was expected to perform academically. Yet, I made choices that altered my career path because the cultural pressure was overwhelming. For instance, when my children were born, I left the workforce. I did not resume working until they were in elementary school.
Perhaps this was not such a good thing for my psyche. I soon realized that I got no praise for washing everyone’s underwear weekly. But miss one week and all hell breaks loose.
What advice would you give your eighteen-year-old self?