Repost: Is life what you make it?

Sometimes, on rare occasions, I dig through my archives and read through some of my past posts. Usually, this exercise makes me laugh because what was I thinking a writer is his/her own worst critic.

The other day, however, I read one of the first posts I ever wrote, and I actually kind of liked it. I wrote the article in more of a free form writing voice than I currently use, which is refreshing on days like today when my writer’s block is more frequent than Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes.

What do you think?

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Originally posted: August 19, 2012

My sister left for college this week. She’s officially a buckeye. I know that those of you living outside the state of Ohio find our mascot ridiculous since it is, well… a nut, but the scarlet and gray hold a dear place in the hearts of those from the state that is at the ‘heart of it all.’

As I texted my sister on the morning of her departure, I felt sentimental. But, not in the way that you might think. I didn’t think about my first day moving into my dorm room, the two-hour drive that I endured from our hometown to the new ‘big city’ of Pittsburgh or the way that it felt to walk a college campus on the first day as a real college student. Instead, I felt old. I still feel old. Boo. These memories are not something that I easily conjured up like it was for me when my brother embarked on his first year of college four years ago.

I was, however, reminded of how I actually chose which school to attend. You see, I was an oddball. I had NO IDEA where I wanted to go to college – all I knew was that I needed to escape Ohio. I applied ALL OVER the place – New York City, South Carolina, Kentucky, Clarkson University (just google that one)… in basic words, I was a hot mess. I remember my dad, who was most likely scared shii-less of my college ADD-ness, asked how I was going to choose which school to attend when my options were all scattered. How would I decide on the criteria and decision-making factors when every school was so unique and non-comparable?

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Hmm… good question, dad. I remember pondering it for a while before declaring… “well, isn’t college just what you make it?!!” Sure, I could frolic around the Big Apple with the social elites, sip on moonshine in the south or freeze my bootay off in a place where hockey overrules football as the official sport, but really, when it comes down to it, I would be the one to ‘make’ my college career. I would decide how much energy to apply to school work, internships and friends within the environment that contains it all.

What I didn’t realize at the time was how mature of a statement this was to declare at the age of 18. I’m sure that I am not the only one who feels this way. There are plenty of young adults and people who have similar realizations, including my very own sister. However, I’ve been surprised by how many other people in the world do not have these similar viewpoints. The universe is full of people who blame their circumstances; coworkers who blame the company and others who blame their establishments.

What is it about life that causes people to continually explore their options? Between jobs, hobbies, significant others, even places where we work out and where we live, it is as if everyone is living their own version of Goldilocks. It’s too easy, too hard, too hot, too cold, not the right fit, etc.

I guess ultimately my point is that I’ve always lived my life with the attitude that life is what you make it. I hope that I don’t come across as egotistical or boastful. I’m just saying that this attitude has always worked for me. Whether it is my college choice, my career or the basic decisions in my life, I tend to give things my all in the hopes that the ‘all’ will make those things great. So, the next time you think about exploring all the options, perhaps try driving your energy into one thing; it finally might be the one that’s “just right.”

A Simple Trick for Achieving Success

I’ve only been in the working world for a handful of years, and I don’t quite consider myself truly successful.  I’ve definitely participated in my fair share of mistakes, lack of confidence and awkward conversations near the water cooler.  Nevertheless, I’ve noticed something different about people who I consider successful versus those that I don’t or the ones that I find just pretending.

Often, in the consulting world, we are taught little tricks to help us act more like a ‘consultant.’. If we’re not acting differently then why should our clients pay us the big bucks?  One of the tricks that I learned in one of my first years was to prevent giving away all of my candy too soon.  In the case of a consultant, the candy equaled our knowledge and experience from past projects.  If we taught the client everything we know in the first week then why would they continue to hire us in the weeks to come?

In the consulting industry, there is a pertinent reason for following this advice and, in many cases, it is certainly a valid approach.  However, if we follow this rationale and, essentially, covet all of our ideas, aren’t we really just giving into our fear of losing them?

I’ve come across many secrets and tips throughout my six years post-college life, but the most simple and important one is actually this: share your knowledge with people.  All of it.  I know that it’s a scary thought – perhaps one of the scariest ones in the working world – if I give away all of my candy, why would a company pay me?  But, my answer to that question is this: because they need you to make more.

If you give away all of your ideas, naturally your mind will want to find more, discover more, learn more.  Isn’t this practice what makes us more well-rounded and knowledgeable people?  When something in our lives is empty, we need to find a way to fill it up.  So, give away your secrets, tips and knowledge and then fill yourself up with more theories, more research, more talents.  The world needs you as an idea giver, not a hoarder.

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