Five Lessons My Oldish Self Would Teach My Young Self
Something about having kids causes you (or least me) to reflect quite a bit on the past. I imagine that a lot of it has to do with thinking about how I want my kids’ lives to be different from mine, and in what ways I would like it to be the same.
That line of thinking kind of dovetailed into an examination of what I would do differently if I had the chance. And, as with many things, I tried to figure out how I could make a blog post out of it. Here goes nothing.
If I had the opportunity (at 42) to come face to face with the 18- or 22-year-old me, what would I say?
The following are the thoughts that are fit to print in a business magazine. I will spare you the reflections on bad perms, roommates and happy hour at Rick’s.
1) Work harder than you think you need to.
Oh, this is HUGE! As I breezed through high school winning awards and ranking in the top 1 percent at graduation, I’ll admit I did not work very hard. Then I entered The University of Michigan, and everything changed.
As were not automatic. The reading was crippling. And, yet, rather than strive for the As, I became complacent, and was satisfied to round out my college career with a solid B-minus average.
Eighteen-year-old Kelly, listen carefully. WORK! Work hard! Forget about some of those frat parties and act like this education you are getting actually matters! Because it does!
And, while you’re at it, extend that new work ethic to your first job out of college and kill it there too! Impress people with your stamina and drive! Don’t wallow in mediocrity and complacency!
2) Don’t listen to those abysmal statistics.
When Carole Simpson spoke to my graduating class at the University of Michigan in 1992, she said we were graduating into the worst job market since the depression. Pretty grim. As a result of that pessimism, which I was only too happy to adopt as my own, I accepted a job at the retailer where I was working part-time through school and entered its management trainee program.
3) Have high goals (see #2).
If I had had loftier ambitions, I may not have had to answer this question hundreds of times: “You went to Michigan and you work at THE MALL?”
4) Find a mentor that you truly look up to.
While a cliché, this is SO true. Whether a professor, parent of a friend or neighbor, I wish I had had someone to aspire to be like. Someone to give me advice and help me network, and from whom I could have been the beneficiary of some good-old nepotism or cronyism...some kind of –ism.
5) Keep your season tickets even, if you don’t think you’ll use them.
Even though this seems funny, and only applies to schools with good sports teams, the bigger point is that we have to think about how our decisions can impact us much further down the road. If I had kept my season tickets, and Michigan hadn’t had three years of RichRod, I could have seen more games and made a little money on the games I could not make it back to town for. Point is, think ahead, think ahead, and think ahead.
Oh, 18-year-old Kelly, how much you’ll miss your metabolism and your ability to bounce back from a night of swigging dollar pitchers (and the dollar pitchers themselves). I can promise you, I will impart some—if not all—of this wisdom to my children…at the appropriate time and with their future selves in mind.