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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What Keeps You Grounded?

"What makes you the best candidate for this job?" I was asked during my job interview. One of the tips that experts give you when going for interviews, is to put emphasis on your strengths, to be honest and sincere with your answers. Of course, it also helps to do some research on your future place of employment. Keeping this in mind, I answered with all humility and sincerity; "I believe that my more than ten years of customer service experience, along with my technical skills and accomplishments, will more than compensate for my lack of formal education. I take pride in the quality of my work; I believe in doing things right the first time; I am responsive to my internal and external customers, and I always project a positive, professional attitude in all circumstances, thus earning respect from the people I work with; I am receptive to new ideas and constructive criticism, as my previous job has taught me to treat complaints as a gift; I can work independently and in a team, equally well; and I take accountability for my actions. I accept both risks and rewards, trusting that good-faith risks will not be punished." That was my moment to sell myself, to convince my future managers that I am excited to be a part of the organization. The next day, I was offered the position. On my first day, my manager told me that they had interviewed two batches of hopeful applicants. Their search ended with the third batch of interviewees and after months of vacancy, they found what they were looking for in me. I knew that my education was not what landed me the job, but how I exuded confidence, sincerity and honesty in my answers.

So, this is what keeps me grounded. Years have passed, I look back and ask myself why I didn't pursue college. It's not like I was a dunce. I have always been an honor student from grade school to high school. I spent many late nights doing homework and studying for exams. All my projects were completed on schedule. After high school, I went to a medical assisting school but two months prior to graduating, I dropped out of the program, convinced that it was not my "thing". I wasn't grossed out by blood, didn't pass out when we practiced phlebotomy on each other. It just wasn't my cup of tea. But even though I dropped out, I continued to make payments on my student loan until it was paid in full. It was a waste of money, but a lesson I had to learn.

I took classes here and there, only so I can say "I'm a student", when asked what I did. So, why didn't I finish college? There are still days when I wish I finished school. I know it can still be done, but with kids, mortgage payment and bills to pay, maybe not now. I often used the excuse of earning money and having a good paying job when I was twenty ~ earning more than most college graduates I know of. I have always been lucky to find high paying jobs even with only a high school education. So why bother going to college when I was already earning so much? Now I think that not finishing school was my fate. I was destined to succeed in some things and fail in others. I came to realize that God had other plans for me. I was sure it was His way of keeping me grounded, a reason to always be humble.

Everyone has one or two things that keep them grounded. It could be an ailment, a handicap, or divorce, a dysfunctional family, or it could be lack of happiness despite of being rich, maybe the inability to have kids, or whatever skeleton is hiding in their closet. People in our lives can also keep us grounded, or the values we were raised with. There is always something that brings out the humility in us, that when the subject is brought up, you almost feel ashamed and wish you could do or say something in defense, and you're too quick to change the topic.

Most of my former classmates back home have attained their degrees. Some are accomplished nurses, dentists, journalists, doctors, successful business owners, some may even be lawyers. I was driving to work one morning and I couldn't help but be envious of their accomplishments. Immediately I neutralized that negative feeling of envy and I started to bless these people. So then I told God that I don't have any acquired skills like that of a doctor or a nurse that I can offer to the world which was obviously valuable to making a difference in people's lives. What can a mere 33 year old undergraduate offer to the world, significant enough to promote positive change in others?

In addition to always wanting to be the best mom to my children, I realize that much of my life's fulfillment comes from sharing my time with others. I prayed to God to guide me and use me as his instrument and show me what I can write about in my blog that could be of value to others.

One morning, I came to work early and since I still had quite some time before my shift started, I went to our Learning Center to check out some books. I came across The DNA of Success by Jack M. Zufelt. As I was reading the first few pages, I was thinking to myself that this book will be like any other motivational books I've read, but I proceeded to read it anyway. Much to my surprise, I actually found it to be a very interesting read. What's even more interesting is, about halfway into the book, I came to the page where the author stated that he is only a high school graduate! Here is a distinguished speaker, author, mentor, recipient of a Presidential Medal of Merit, and a high school graduate? I couldn't conceal my smile as excitement rushed through my body and I thought to myself "This is it!" God has answered my question through Mr. Zufelt's writing! God led me to this man's work to make me realize that I don't need to have a master's or a PhD to be able to make a difference in the world.

**Did you know?** Bill Gates dropped out of college to pursue his passion for computers; Bill Rosenberg, founder of Dunkin' Donuts was 14 years old when he quit school; Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza only had a high school diploma.

Now I'll just have to think of what I can contribute...

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against higher education nor am I encouraging students to drop out of college to pursue their passion. As a mother, I will preach to my kids about the importance of education until their ears bleed. I will make sure they finish college even if I have to barge into their dorms and drag them out of bed after a night of partying...okay maybe not. But I will not insist on a profession they have no passion for. As long as they follow what is fulfilling for them and achieve as much or as little success as they can handle. As long as they: do not become a burden to society; have fear and faith in God; show respect for others; believe that they have the power to attain and achieve anything their hearts desire. Success for me, as a mother, is to see my boys carry the values and faith as they become loving, devoted husbands and caring, responsible fathers. Success is seeing them happy with their career and family lives. As an individual, I'll have to decide what my heart truly desires so I can move forward to realizing my dreams.

Reading Jack Zufelt's book shed a new light for me. The lack of formal education still keeps me grounded, but I no longer cringe when people talk about their college days, and avoid the topic by pretending to busy myself with more "important" work. As Jack put it, "Formal education isn't the only way to learn."

I've learned to become comfortable with who I am and what I have become. I've learned to take pride of the wealth of knowledge I've accumulated through the years ~ personally, professionally, spiritually. Everyday is a learning experience and I seize every chance to further enrich the colors of my work of art ~ my life.

"What's the difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson." -- Robert L. Carter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Liza, I am so glad that my book, The DNA of Success, inspired you. It is doing that for people all over the world. It is now in 12 languages. So many people are looking for love, happiness and success in all the wrong places. It is not out there in some methodology or technique like goal setting. It is an inside job and, as you discovered, my book shows people how to plug into the source of power that is within us all. Thank you for helping to spread my message to the world. I wish you great success in all you do.
Jack M. Zufelt