Things I Learned at Heart O’ the Hills
As a camper, I never realized how many things I was learning while having so much fun. And the things I was learning weren’t the obvious things like swimming, riding a horse, archery, or learning to shoot a rifle. The things I am referring to could be considered ‘soft skills’ or ‘intangible skills’.
One of these intangible skills was how to seize an opportunity when it came my way. Early in my career, I worked at a software company in the Technical Support department. This was so long ago, it was before the use of e-mail to communicate outside of your own organization. But fax machines were in their heyday of use and we would write step-by-step instructions on how to fix issues with the software to fax to customers. This led to an opportunity to help work on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of the next user’s manual. And that opportunity led to training new employees hired to join the Technical Support department.
Being a trainer and helping write user documentation, led me to work for another company doing those exact same types of jobs. Working at this company afforded me the opportunity to travel to several foreign countries; the United Kingdom, Germany, and Singapore.
After several years, I left being a corporate trainer and user documentation specialist and began doing website design and development. This was in the pretty early days of the Internet and web development. I also continued to do some documentation work. However, I heard about a one-day workshop on Photoshop and my boss allowed me to attend. The opportunity to attend this workshop started me down a path to the career I currently have. This same job also gave me a chance to learn about how to prepare a set for a photoshoot. And also exposed me to what it takes to coordinate a company’s attendance at a tradeshow.
After attending the Photoshop workshop, I dove in and kept teaching myself Photoshop, but I also started teaching myself Illustrator and InDesign. All of these are part of the Adobe Creative Suite of products. The skills I learned early on in my career using Microsoft Word to write documentation and the Adobe Creative Suite skills I had taught myself directly led to the job from which I just retired. I retired from a defense contractor where I was a proposal specialist and a graphic designer.
You never know where or when an opportunity may present itself. It may seem like a small or insignificant but you never know where it might take you years from now. Looking back at my various career(s), I have no idea where I would be today if I hadn’t jumped at what seemed like small opportunities.
I’ve had four careers since graduating college and none of them have been in the field in which I received my degree. My degree was a Bachelor’s degree in Finance.
- First Career – Documentation / New Hire Trainer – Helping write FAQs and training new employees which also required I development my own training guides.
- Second Career – Documentation / Corporate Trainer – Honing my skills which led to international travel.
- Third Career – Website Development and Design – Attended a Photoshop workshop and began doing entry level design work.
- Fourth Career – Proposal Specialist and Graphic Designer – Skills acquired and honed over the years allowed me to find a position which I truly loved. Using the Microsoft Word skills I continued to hone each year to layout proposal submissions to conform to the specifications in the Request for Proposal (RFP) from the Federal Government. Also creating the graphics to be included in the proposal response. I also used my graphic design skills to create large scale marketing designs; some of which were 25 feet long by 10 feet tall.
I have lived my life by this mantra…If an opportunity is presented to you, grab it…it doesn’t matter if you know exactly how to do it, take the chance and give it a try. You never know what MIGHT happen!
We have all failed at one time or another in our lives. You learn so much more from failure than from success.
At camp, I always took the chance to try something new. Many times, I found it was something that I not only enjoyed but something at which I possessed some skill…Riflery, Archery, Canoeing, or even holding an office for my sisterhood.
In fact, back in my time, I was a Story Teller (previously known as a Scribe) for my sisterhood. At the time, I didn’t consider myself very creative but someone nominated me, so I ran. I never thought I would win but I did! All term, I worked on the scrapbook pages for my sisterhood. Little did I know back then but God was preparing me to be a graphic designer. 28 years after being a Story Teller, I started my career as a Graphic Designer. I was a Story Teller in 1979 and took the Photoshop seminar in 2007.
TAKE CHANCES AND BET ON YOURSELF…YOU CAN DO ANYTHING THAT YOU SET YOUR MIND TO.
There are five basic life lessons that I have learned along the way. I have tried to use these to guide me throughout my life.
#1 – Life is full of surprises
- Make mistakes…it’s OK
- When you do make mistakes, dust yourself off and move forward and try again
- Life throws curve balls, learn from them
#2 – Nothing in life is ever easy and that’s OK
- Nothing ever comes easy
- Things don’t always go as planned…That’s OK
- Always have a backup plan or plan B
#3 – Appearances are often misleading
- Our preconceived notions can get the best of us
- Don’t assume things when making decisions
- Don’t let being scared, unsure, or intimidated keep you from making sound decisions or judgements
#4 – Fight to win
- Don’t think that one opportunity is better than another opportunity. Most times this isn’t true. No one can predict when a better opportunity will come along. You have to grab them when they come your way.
- Don’t let a good opportunity pass you by just because there are problems with it…solving the problems is a part of the opportunity.
- You need to learn to fight for what you want and not waste any opportunities expecting the universe to do you a favor or send a second amazing opportunity your way.
#5 – Seize the Moment
- Learn to seize the moment, focus on the challenge, and learn many new things along the way
- You cannot expect to win at life without working hard for what you want
- Set aside your fears when faced with a new opportunity
My advice to each of you is to look around you each day and see if there are any opportunities to grab ahold of. You never know where or when one will pop up in your path. Don’t immediately think that you can’t do it or come up with excuses as to why you shouldn’t do it…Just give it a try. You never know where an opportunity may lead you.