When I was 17 years of age, I was awarded the opportunity to spend a year in Brazil as Rotary International exchange student. To say the least, it was the most incredible experience of my life. After a year away from family, friends and school, it was time to enter the local university. During my time away however, I acculturated into the Brazilian life and I needed some time to re-acclimate back into American life. I asked my parents to defer my admission to the university for 6 months so I could get grounded, but my father disagreed with my decision. “Go now”, he said, “and I’ll pay.” “If you wait – even 6 months, then you must pay for your schooling.” Excuse me? That was contradictory to my logic at the time. My dad – other than uttering those words over the telephone from one country to another, did not explain his decision until years later.
Most 18-year olds who hear “you pay” would have made an about face and trudged off to school. I, however, was not buying it. I wasn’t ready. Sure I was smart and could handle the classes intellectually, but I was not emotionally ready. My heart was still over 8,000 miles away (13,000 kilometers). But I truly did not want to waste my parents’ hard-earned money, so I worked 40 hours a week and went to one class at a time until I earned a degree.
Why did I put myself through the anguish of a long drawn out education? Because I valued integrity, respect, appreciation and hard work. Over the years, I got married, had children and continued to advance my education. Each time, my appreciation grew because I realized that I was responsible for my life. I made choices –some good, dome questionable but each one I owned and learned from. Today, I am the owner of a successful training and facilitation company because I stayed true to the values I hold dear.
When we talk about personal growth, we often get hung up on what isn’t laid out in front of us to help pave our way. Or we feel the need to do what others think is wise for us, disregarding our own head and heart. We give up because the roadmap or GPS is taking us a different route than we expected. Sometimes, we don’t have a guidance system at all.
But if at 55 years of age, I can put all my learning to the test, and have the courage to take the plunge, you can to. You don’t have to start a business. You just have to live your life with purpose. Follow me on this journey and you will not walk alone. We’ll even have some fun as we explore where we are each meant to be. Are you ready?