Age – Wisdom
“That is the great fallacy: the wisdom of old men. They do not grow wise, they grow careful.”
I had the privilege of addressing reinventing yourself – the Kellogg Way to the graduate school, and I am happy to share words of wisdom with you.
Why are you here today? Are you over the hill like Charles Schultz, picking up speed, growing wiser or growing more careful like Hemingway? Have you been in your present position for a year, two years, or more? Are you in a dead-end position that seems to lack a future? Do you hate your boss, or are you the boss?
Is it time for you to reinvent yourself? I have done it several times. Growing up with parents who told me to learn to type because I would never amount to anything, I was challenged at an early age to be the best of the best. As the middle of 5 kids, I did not have the ‘middle child syndrome’, but I did have the ‘caught in the middle syndrome.’ And, it was not fun! So, I started at an early age to identify ways in which I could better myself, learn and do more, achieve great heights, and then start all over again.
As a nurse, and I entered nursing school because I liked people, got a scholarship from the Philadelphia public schools, and had a safe place to live…I loved patient care. I often thought that there were patients who could not possibly recover without my presence on each and every shift. I worked harder and smarter than many of my classmates, and I was a good student…although an impatient one. I was always in anticipation of the next step…the next part of the obstacle course…the next challenge. As I think back, I realize that part of my wish to reinvent myself stemmed from a lack of self-esteem and an awareness that others were brighter, kinder, and that they came from what seemed to be (at least on the outside) loving families. So, part of reinventing myself involved giving myself a new look, a new role, a new career – an opportunity to shine beyond my wildest dreams. And, I worked hard at it.
Kellogg prepares us well for the transformation – a quality education, a renowned facility, challenging faculty and a competitive student body – the basic steps in a renaissance movement! Kellogg sets the standard and we reach to attain that standard and to reach beyond it. The Kellogg graduate has great expectations for a career, and much is expected of him or her in the workplace.
But, the Kellogg graduate also has an opportunity to shine beyond his or her wildest dreams…by rediscovering oneself and reinventing one’s place in the workforce.
People reinvent themselves for different reasons. For some, it’s the sudden realization that they’re not happy or fulfilled. This is what’s commonly called a mid-life crisis. The reinventors, on the other hand, prefer the term “finding themselves,” particularly when they’re not in the mood to admit that they’re flat out bored and need a change. Some of you may have kids who are still finding themselves – you may be that inner child yourself.
Think of your own reinvention and what it might look like. Narrow your wish list down to the top three reinvention choices…they will be fluid and subject to change. Then, take action towards them and watch what happens. Reinvention is about a decision, a commitment, and action steps in support of that decision. Make the decision yours and yours alone…and see yourself reinvented the Kellogg way.
Think of the mouse in Who Moved My Cheese, the adult parable made famous by Spencer Johnson. At some point in your life, you have to make a decision. You have to change. Change is a constant and an essential catalyst for reinventing our selves, our lives, and our work. Change usually takes courage and tenacity, especially when there is no guarantee of success. Change is a process of reinvention. And, you don’t have to wait for middle age or be in the midst of a crisis to reinvent yourself. In fact, it’s a lot more fun when you’re neither. And keep in mind that if your reinvention doesn’t work out, you can always reinvent yourself again.