By starting at the age of eleven, I had a 30 year work history by my early forties. I took a 3 day seminar for supervisors from AMA (American Management Association) a few years back and the facilitator started by asking each of us to share the number of years we have been working, starting with our first job as a teen. I had my first babysitting job at the age of eleven so when it was my turn I said that I had 30 years of work experience, which took the fellow back a bit. (I’ve always looked young for my age, a baby face, which I hated for years and bless every day now.) There were plenty of folks there who were older than me, but none could claim such an early start to their work journey.
I have read studies now that early work history is predictive of later work success and I see a glimmer of truth there, but also have a dollop of skepticism that this is entirely predictive. Despite my early start, I have plenty of stretches in my life when I cannot point to any work for pay activity – life transitions that included moving & getting resettled, stay at home mom stints, and my recent transition from the corporate world to becoming a free agent consultant. Yet I am self-supporting and capable of any number of things.
We modern workers seem to be rather restrictive in the way that we think of work, particularly in regard to work as a progression, these days. I have not ascribed to work in that view – I have babysat, housesat, done retail, foodservice, office/corporate work. I have worked alone, on teams, led teams. I have experienced success and failure. I have left places voluntarily and involuntarily. And I have learned a great deal with each type of exposure, with each new opportunity.
I wouldn’t trade my patchwork work journey for anything. It has informed and strengthened my overall resilience in life. It has heightened my understanding (and enjoyment) of process. And it has allowed me great latitude for creative thinking leaps. I am in good company from a historical perspective – John Muir, Henry David Thoreau and Thomas Alva Edison all come to mind.
Who knows where my work journey will ultimately lead? In the eyes of many my journey to date has not met the definition of success, with eyes on an ultimate goal. Can these same folks claim to have gained deep enrichment from their work experience?
UPDATE: This post was written in response to http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/daily-prompt-journey/
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations