The Pressure To Choose


At 8 years old, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

At 13 years old, “You should start thinking about getting a part-time job.”

At 15 years old, “Are you taking College or University level courses in school?”

At 17 years old, “What Universities or Colleges are you looking at going to?”

At 19 years old, “What will that degree or diploma qualify you to be?” Are you sure?”

At 24 years old, “You changed your mind! What are you going to be?”

At 30 years old, “You’re changing careers?  Again? So what’s it going to be now?”

At 36 years old, “I’m sorry things aren’t working out. “What’ll make you happy?”

At 45 years old, “What are you going to do with your life? Such a disappointment.”

At 55 years old, “Had you made better choices, you’d be retired by now.”

At 60 years old, “So what are you going to do with the next 5 years of your life?”

At 65 years old, “It’s a shame really. Such potential and no life savings, poor dear.”

Maybe this sounds familiar in part or in whole. Interesting when you put the sequence of questions together though and look at them in their entirety. Can you spot the questions that are truly asked to seek information and separate them from the questions that really show others expectations and judgements?

When you’re the one asking out of genuine interest, the questions seem innocent enough. Perhaps you’re the grandparent or parent with an inquisitive nature; you want the best for your grandchild or child, and you see the world before them. They can be anything and anyone they choose to be; the possibilities are endless!

However, on the receiving end, you may well remember the angst you felt yourself when the question was turned to you. First of all it’s improbable as a child that you’d even know the majority of jobs that you could find rewarding. You’re limited to considering an occupation based on what you’ve been personally exposed to. As a very young child, many want to be a Doctor, Fire Fighter, Dentist or Teacher because these are within the limits of what they’ve seen or experienced.

By the time high school is underway, your already being told to choose university or college level courses, most often without any real idea of what either experience might be best for you personally. For many, a school official may have reasoned you were bright enough for university or you were intellectually challenged and university would prove far too difficult. Though well-meaning, you were encouraged to take the college level classes, or you were introduced to a trade as a viable alternative because you were good with your hands.

Yes, people feel a lot of pressure and anxiety when feeling they have to pick a career. Even in a job interview, employers often ask, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Or they might ask, “How does this position fit with your overall career goals?” Ever sat there and realized you have no idea whatsoever? You haven’t thought much beyond just getting this job and you’ve no career goals that come to mind?

Well if you’re fortunate enough to know what it is you want to do and you’re working the plan to get there, I say good for you! Excellent in fact! Well done! With a long-term goal you can get help mapping out the steps along the way you need to take to eventually arrive at your destination of choice. That’s commendable.

However, if you have no long-term goal in mind, or you’re torn between 4 things that you find appealing, you might be thinking, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just decide on something and be normal like everyone else? I’m such a loser!”

Well, you’re not a loser for starters, and no, not everyone else has it figured out. In fact, only a handful of people know what they want to be when they are children and years later emerge in life fully satisfied in the same profession they once only dreamed of. For the majority – the vast majority – as we grow up we meet people in different roles, and the more we see and interact with, the more we have new information to consider.

If you want an answer to that question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, that will be 100% right, tell them, “Older.”

Now depending on who is asking, realize that as parents and grandparents, they care about you. They are naturally curious to hear your thoughts. Even if you have no idea or you’re confused, it’s okay to say exactly that. It’s better than just saying, “I don’t know” and closing the door to your bedroom, shutting them out.

Good advice is to talk with people about their jobs. Gain some experience by doing some various things and pay attention to what you find pleasing and personally rewarding. Equally as valuable, pay attention to what you find unsatisfactory. You don’t have to choose one career and stick with it until you retire. That’s not the only success.

Success could be changing jobs several times over your lifetime, making full use of different skills as you acquire them, leading where you once followed, or taking on a new challenge to stretch yourself. You might head back to school and you might not. There’s no one formula for success.

Be true to yourself. Maybe – just maybe – that’s a good thing to be as you grow up.

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Our Choices Spread Jobs Around


Of late, my wife and I have been actively looking at where and how we want to live  from now until retirement and then hopefully long into that next stage. There are a lot of tradespeople and others who will ultimately gain or lose work based on what we decide. Ever thought about that yourself?

So we live in a bungaloft; a home with a main floor, finished basement and a second storey that overlooks the living room on the main floor. Outside we’ve got many floral gardens; 95% of which are filled with perennials; so there’s less work than it looks at this stage as the bulk of the work is done. The folks at garden centres have a lot of our money!

The thing is, we can’t at the moment, decide on what to do between the choices we’ve presented to ourselves. We could:

  1. Stay put and do some renovating to make a really nice home even better
  2. Move to some property with a great view, and a house that ticks off all the things on our ‘dream’ list
  3. Buy a lot and have a home built from scratch just the way we want it
  4. Move to a smaller place; like a condo and buy a recreation vehicle and travel weekends and on our vacations

Now I’m not just sharing our discussions for the purpose of garnering ‘likes’ such as one would on FB. No, I’m sharing because there are a lot of working people who will make money or lose opportunities based on whatever we decide. And who knows; there could be more options yet that come to light.

There’s the RV sales people; and if you’ve not been inside some campers and trailers for years, you should think about taking in such a show. Things have come a long way in comfort and options. Bigger isn’t always better, but it sure is nice to have some comforts when you’re coming in after a day on the trails, white water rafting or having been out doing pretty much anything active. Yes the RV sales people will be happy to know that we’re potentially in the market – again.

Now we’ve moved 8 times if you include the first three years of our marriage where we were in 3 apartments in the first 3 years. 5 different houses representing 10 real estate commissions, 10 lawyer’s fees, 3 home inspectors and way too many people in administrative roles to count giving buyers and sellers approval for this and that. In the last house, we stood and watched it go up right from the foundation. So many builders! There’s the tradespeople; the carpet layer, the hardwood installer, the trim team, the counter top manufacturer’s, the roofers, the framers, the dry waller’s, the landscapers who brought in the armour stone and made the waterfall, the plumbers, electricians, asphalt team, city inspector, gas, hydro, cable and water installers, the people delivering turf. Forgot to mention the heavy equipment operators, window installers and manufacturer’s, and of course all the people who produce and sell all the contents from lighting and bathroom fixtures to painters and HVAC people. Then too there’s the movers who transport all the ‘stuff’ from one house to another. So many people!

That’s a lot of jobs for a lot of people and we’re only one couple. When the housing industry is booming, it’s not hard to see that for every time you pass a new development going up, a lot of people are benefitting from the work created.

And what of that RV? There are owners of campgrounds hoping we’ll be among the many who frequent their sites. There’s the gas station employees and owners who hope we’re on the road, the people who build, sell and install the appliances contained within. Then there’s plumbers, electricians, framers, again. There are folks on automotive assembly lines who work at construction, engine installation, wiring, lighting and depending on the model, even the kitchen sink and toilet!

Then we’ve got to find a place to store the vehicle perhaps, for if we stay put, that new RV can’t stay in the driveway. Nope, by-laws forbid that. So someone makes money storing and maybe winterizing that RV.

I see a lot of Mitchell money going out. Oh, and to pull it unless it’s self-driven? Yep, that’s one of our cars to sell and replace with a vehicle with better towing capacity. I just keep thinking of all the people happy to take my money; our money. Oh well, it is only money. Right? Then again, I’m about 7 years (give or take) from retiring and then the money coming in drops. That bears thinking about.

That we’re in this thought process isn’t the thrust of the piece, but a look at who in the world of work will be affected and receive income/work from our choices. Say, what if we stayed put and just did some traveling of a different sort? Then the people taking our money might be airlines, hotel owners, restauranteurs, theatre owners, valets, RV rental agents, train operators, etc. What about all the souvenir creators and vendors relying on us, the servers, hotel staff, bed and breakfast operators and tour guides? What of the amusement operators – why even the road crews who pave the roads we’ll drive on?

There are a lot of people potentially taking our money. Stay tuned contractors, agents, builders, vendors, assembly line workers, …

What If You Can’t Find Your Passion?


“Follow your dreams, do what makes you come alive; find your passion.” Sound familiar? Maybe somebody said as much in your valedictorian address in high school or college/university. Or perhaps it was your mentor; Aunt May or your granddad. All well intended of course; with your best interests at heart.

You might be familiar with a saying that goes, “Love your job and you’ll never work a day in your life”. The idea being that when you do something or some things that you love doing, you’re not actually working. This is one quote I’ve never really liked for it then implies that work has to be something you don’t love. If you’re working; and especially if you’re working hard at something, you can’t love it. Well, I just don’t see things that way.

Some of the hardest working people I know love what they do. In fact, it is precisely because they love their work so much that they invest themselves and work hard to improve; all because the end products and services they give will better the experience of the consumer. Their work brings them happiness and immense satisfaction and they love it so much they aren’t interested in changing to do something else.

But what of the person – possibly you – who hasn’t found what their passion is? What if you’re talented at something or even several things but the word passionate is just wrong. You might have days where you feel good about your work of course, and your boss is happy with your performance. However, to say you’re truly passionate about your work would be a lie. So you wonder every so often about these people who have apparently found passion in the work they do, and you say to yourself, “I wonder what that’s like; to use such a strong emotional word like ‘passion’ to describe how they go about their work.”

Now you can go to school and take courses to improve your skills on a subject, to expand your knowledge on a topic, to learn a specific trade and if you go far enough you can even get a doctorate and be a professor of something. That is something to be proud of and a significant accomplishment. To become a professor or doctor of something would seemingly make you an expert or at the very least well-versed and informed on a particular topic. Yet, for all that schools share and teach, impart and instruct, teaching passion isn’t in any curriculum.

Can you teach passion is what I’m saying? No, I don’t think you can. You can be passionate about what it is you do but fail miserably in attempting to pass that passion on to others. Oh I’m not saying those around you won’t be inspired by you; for I believe they often are. However, just because you’re passionate about your work doesn’t mean that those coming into contact with you and seeing how you go about what you do will automatically be similarly invested in that passion.

When in fact someone says, “Find your passion!” where do you begin? It can seem like you need to take a few years off and travel to exotic destinations, live in a rain forest, serve the needy in a third world country or scale Mount Everest. On a local and far more accessible scale, maybe that’s why zip-lining, parachuting and taking ax throwing classes are rising in popularity; people are looking to stimulate their emotional passion for something by doing something extreme.

So what of the average person (even saying average seems like a letdown to some of you I know) who has a regular job. The person who pays down their mortgage regularly, buys a car every 5 years and goes in to work 5 days a week, lives a pretty ‘normal’ life in other words? Can one be happy if they do well at their job but the word, ‘passion’ isn’t something they’ve ever used to describe how they feel about their job? Yes of course.

With all the people out their telling you to find your passion, I’d recommend you remember that the only person you need answer to for whether that’s important to you personally is…well…you. If it’s not important that you love your work, you don’t have to. If you don’t love your work it need not mean you hate it. Hate is a strong word. You could be competent but indifferent. So you could like selling but whether it’s clothes, shoes, games, cars or fishing tackle, it doesn’t matter. Equally of interest you might also be good at and enjoy fixing appliances or refinishing furniture.

Yes there are a lot of people in this world doing work they love and many doing work without passion. Of course finding something you love and turning it into your source of full-time work and your source of income might seem like the goal, but there are many who would like to keep their passion and their full-time work separate. After all, the fear of losing your passion for something because it’s become work is a genuine concern.

So if you’ve not found your passion, don’t fret. Yes, and this from someone who loves what he does. It might take you a short time or years to discover passion if ever. You can still be successful, happy and good at many things!

Wanting To Experience A Better Future


If you assume that everybody wants a better future, you’d be surprised to find out that your assumption is wrong. Of course, we’d have to come to an understanding between us about what the term, ‘better’ implies. Does better mean more money, a better job; maybe ‘just’ a job? Does it imply a home to live in, a loving partner, a pet, travel, having children, etc.? Better to you might not be better for others no matter what you name.

For many, building a better future is going to take work; work they’re ready to put in so that one day they can make what others only hope for. These kind of people believe they are the architects of their own future, that nothing worth having is just going to be handed to them. They plan and then put their plans into action by rolling up their sleeves and getting down to business. How bad they want it and how hard they’re ready to work for it will decide how successful they’ll be and how long it will take to realize what they’re after.

Others  believe a better future is worth a $5.00 investment once a week or more. These folks have pinned their future to a lottery; they dream big and invest little; setting aside some of their disposable income on an extremely small chance that luck will favour them. Soon they’ll stand on a stage with an over-sized cheque and life will dramatically change for them with the calling out of some random numbers. Their philosophy is, “you can’t win if you don’t play”, while others believe, “it’s impossible to lose if you don’t play.”

For others, having a better future has nothing at all to do with money or wealth. Their picture of a brighter and better future has to do with improved health; eradicating a disease, overcoming a health scare, getting stronger, changing their weight, having more stamina etc. It might mean new dentures that bring back their smile, learning to walk again or walking pain-free. Hoping and praying perhaps for a cure that comes in their time for what is slowly robbing them of their body and mind.

Some seemingly have it all together from outward appearances. Still searching and wanting a better future however, they may have hopes for reconciliation, patching up past relationships, strained friendships, They may dogged by an inability to let things go, reluctant to put in the effort to bring about the change needed, to choose forgiveness instead of bitterness.

For you though; you my reader – what does a better future mean for you? What does that look like when you picture life ahead?

Maybe you’re one who wants a better, more fulfilling future but has yet to figure out what that future looks like. Perhaps your wish and hope is actually that; to figure it out. Just being able to decide what career or job you’d most like – that alone would be something! Getting past the indecision, wanting to put a plan in action but not being able to because you figure you must have something to be working toward and the not-knowing has you paralyzed, stressed and downright frustrated.

If you’re after a better future; you can go about it in one of two ways I suppose; change nothing and believe that eventually what you’re doing in the present will bring about the result you’re after. The other alternative is that something; or some things (plural) need to change. Most of the time those who believe something has to change start with a shift in their thinking. The mindset, thoughts, ideas and beliefs sometimes have to shift, being willing to try that which hasn’t been tried before. Do this and you embrace a, “Change begins with me” mentality; “Be the change I want to see” philosophy.

So whether it’s finding yourself, finding God, finding a golden ticket in a chocolate bar or finding yourself signing a new car agreement, the decisions you make going forward from today will bring you closer to your goal or leave you further from it.

Is it as simple as that? Does it come down to better decision-making? All the decisions you’ve made up to now have in large part been responsible for where you find yourself now. The food in your cupboards products of your decisions made in the grocery store. The furniture you sit on a result of the decisions you made on what to buy, borrow or claim. The job you have a product of your decision about your education, your choice of employers, your decision to commute or not.

Decisions are often made by others that affect us though. Employers move, expand and contract, lay off and hire, promote and fire. How we react to these things is ultimately our decision to make. Do we rebel and fight, carry the bitterness with us, shake their hand and move on?

Opting for a brighter and better future might be what you’ve decided on for yourself. Determining what that means – for you personally – is entirely up to you. Talking it out is often a good start. Even when you aren’t sure what you’ll end up deciding on, getting your thoughts out and sharing what’s going on in your mind is helpful.

No sage advice this time around. Just a question; If you want a better future, what does it look like?

 

 

 

A Nod Of Thanks To The Invisible Ones


Jobs; there are good ones and bad ones. Then again, what I think is a good job might be one you’d rather not do or absolutely run away from. You have no doubt jobs and occupations you believe to be menial or stimulating, worthwhile or nothing but a waste of your time, excellent all the way to terrible.

Thankfully, there’s enough diversity in the world to go around. There are people who will not only do the jobs you and I might find disagreeable, but they’ll do it with enthusiasm, put in the required investment of energy and commitment to be successful at. These don’t have to be dangerous, dirty, low-paying positions to qualify. In fact many jobs you and I might find unsuited to our particular tastes are good paying and prestigious. Some might not come with fancy titles or be high on the most desired jobs list but we’re still extremely grateful that there are people who do them.

As you go about your day today, how many ‘invisible’ people do you see working? These are the people you benefit from as they go about doing their jobs either directly or indirectly. Take the road crew involved in repairing potholes, widening a road or building a bridge overpass. As your vehicle slows down and eventually stops in front of the Flag Person who stops traffic to let a dump truck turn onto the road in front of you, it’s typical that we think, “Oh great! If I could just have been the last car let through ahead of this truck, not the first car stopped and now behind it!”

But that crew working on the roads makes our drive so much better in the long-run. The Dump Truck Drivers, Flag Person, Coffee Truck guy, Surveyor’s Architects, General Labourers, Pavers etc. they all have their jobs to do. They’re out there in the inclement weather,  sometimes working 24/7 do get work done with the least inconvenience to the throngs of daytime motorists. But do we typically roll down the window of the car and say thanks or give them the thumbs up as we pass? Not likely.

What of the Crossing Guard who holds us up so our kids can get to and from school safely? Who’s the women and men who designed, built and installed our traffic lights, laid our sidewalks, built and service the cars and trucks we drive? We rely on these people to do top-notch work on a daily basis but rarely give them much thought until that moment when our vehicles have a problem, the lights malfunction, the sidewalks crack. Then they are foremost in our minds and we appreciate their expertise in what they do – jobs which we have little to zero interest in doing ourselves.

There’s the teachers who instruct and train our children, role-modelling the love for learning we hope our kids embrace. While we appreciate for the most part the role these people play in our societies and generally elevate the stature of the people in these instructing roles, not everybody would comfortably and confidently want to stand in front of 30 children and be responsible for their education.

Many more people we rely on each day don’t work in the kinds of jobs we typically place a lot of value in. Take the people who brew and serve your morning beverage at a drive-thru. Minimum wage earners, all expected to smile and be friendly with each customer, doing repetitive work for 6 or 7 hours at a time. How many coffee’s and teas do they pour in an hour, a shift, a week, a year? Too many to bear thinking of no doubt. We appreciate that steaming cup of ‘get up and start your day’ but you might not be enamoured with doing their job on a long-term basis; you might need more stimulation.

There’s the people who build our homes, erect the light standards we see by, build the tunnels for the trains we ride, drive the buses we take, print the materials we read – and yes create the tablets, laptops and phones we’ve come to rely on so much. Those jobs might not be high on our list of desired jobs, but we all benefit from the work of those people in them.

So first here’s a nod to them – to you – if you’re in a job where you don’t get a lot of praise or thanks from end-users. You might not get the customers standing in front of you watching how you go about your business and complimenting your good work but it’s appreciated.

Whether you’re an employee in a variety store, a Salesperson in a retail operation, or the people who collect, clean and stack those food trays in food courts of large malls, I thank you for doing what you do each day.

What one person finds menial or hard work is meaningful and a joy to do for someone else. So maybe that could be your goal today – our goal today. You know, thank two people who are seemingly invisible but vital to making the day run smoothly. A quick nod of thanks, a raised cup in salute, a friendly smile or a mouthed, “Thanks”.

What if it started with you? We might make someone feel a little prouder; a little more appreciated. So there’s your challenge. Oh and here’s to YOU for all you do!

 

 

 

Define Yourself


Who are you? You are on one level I suppose a product of your past; everything from where you were born and brought up, the schools you attended, the people who surrounded you in your earliest formative years. Yet it’s more than this or people would be very much like their brothers and sisters, and very alike their neighbours and friends. But you, you’re unique.

No one knows you better than yourself or would you disagree with this premise? There are sometimes we might say to someone, “You know me better than I know myself”, but I suspect even when we say it we’re really indicating only a certain aspect of ourselves is known well by another rather than our complete make up.

Knowing ourselves; why is that so important? What’s that remotely have to do with employment, finding a job, landing a career? If that’s what we’re after shouldn’t we just run out and get a job; any job? Some people actually do make this critical mistake – but the number is very low. Even someone who says they are looking for and will do ‘anything’ usually draws the line at some point between what they’ll really do and what they won’t – and this is a good thing!

When you know yourself well you can identify and label the things you enjoy vs. those you don’t. You have an awareness of things you can do well, others you need help completing and yes other things you haven’t mastered and perform poorly at. Put together, you’ve got a pretty good idea of your skill set. To be successful and happy, it would seem logical then to perform work that gives you pleasure and that you perform well. The more you do this kind of work, you may increase your abilities from performing well to mastering.

The amazing thing about as humans however is that we grow. We grow and change over time. We take a job and at some point early on or at a later date we evolve and look for new challenges and new stimulation. While some of us could perform the same job for years or even decades, others opt to pursue different challenges that make use of some of our other skills. We may even choose to shift our employment into occupations where we haven’t mastered skills in order to develop skills we identify as needing and wanting to grow.

We are more than an accumulation of our skills though aren’t we? Sure we are. Our thoughts, needs, wants; things we see as beautiful, desirable. Let’s not forget too the things that limit us, impede us or just make the learning or living more of a challenge. We may have a physical or mental health issue that is part of our make up; and it may or may not be visible to the naked eye.

With respect to employment, is it the case that there is but a single job in this wide world that is meant for us and it is only that one single job that we were put on this earth to do? I certainly don’t think that for a second. However to listen to some speak, they are out searching endlessly for that perfect job, the one that will give their life meaning and define who they are and give them purpose. This belief can actually be a huge hindrance in landing employment because a person that believes there is but a single job they were meant to do often turns down many jobs fearing to choose wrong.

There is, is their not a certain prestige or value that we assign to jobs and employment too. If as some do we place a low value on a particular job vs. another, it might make us feel good to pursue a job of high common value feeling that is the job we were meant to do. But then what of the person who makes pipe cleaners for a living, bubble gum wrappers or toothpicks for a living. Is it likely that they identify there work as the one purpose they were put here on this earth and they do their work with passion, finding high value in it as meaningful and fulfilling. Who is to say, perhaps they do.

When you assess yourself; likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, etc. you still don’t have the complete picture of what defines you. It’s elusive, and just when you think you’ve got it, you realize what you used to find great joy in has become somewhat stale and less than completely satisfactory; well sometimes. We evolve, grow, regress, alter, morph and every so often we note the changes. We overcome tragedies and tests of our endurance.

It is the sum of all we experience and how we interact with those experiences that defines who we are and who we become. We can shift and make different choices in life intentionally and of course much in life happens to us unexpectedly for good or bad. We get hurt, we find elation, we crawl, we fly. We are the sum of all our experiences and truly unique.

There are many kinds of work in this world that you will perform well and enjoy. With every thing you do, take stock of what you do well and what you find both enjoyable and would rather avoid in the future.

When you define yourself, you find yourself.

 

A Life Path Exercise


Here’s an interesting activity for you and those you work with to do, or it may be something that you’d like to introduce to an adult class you facilitate if you are a teacher or workshop leader. It has to do with depicting your path in life up to the present moment in time. It’s a good way to get to know others around you better and at the same time give you a visual representation of your own history; something very valuable as you’ll see.

How it goes is this: Each person participating is given a paper to write on that is large enough so that it can be posted on a wall for everyone to look at without having to use a magnifying glass. You’ll have to judge the size of paper based on the wall space you have and how many people are participating. Half a sheet of flip chart paper works nicely in most cases.

Each person begins by putting a dot on the page and labels that dot with the location of their birth; typically town or city and name of country. Where everyone started out in this world is in itself a good starting point for generating conversation. You could, if everyone agrees, add the year to the location.  What was going on in that part of the world when you were born is often very insightful. Everyone starts the same; with the first dot being their birth and ends with their final dot being the class everyone is presently taking or the company everyone is working at if it’s a workplace activity, although their positions will vary.

Moving out from the initial dot, each person now draws a line in any direction they wish (most will move from left to right in the western world you may find), and plots a second dot when they recall something memorable to note. It could be anything the person chooses to highlight and share with others including completing high school, moving somewhere new, losing a parent, meeting someone of great influence in their life; maybe even having a childhood illness of lasting significance.

The process continues with extending the line from the second dot to another one and so forth, noting significant moments like new jobs, volunteer roles, getting married, having children or grandchildren, losing jobs, life-defining moments they can recall, moving to new countries, taking the trip of a lifetime, buying a first home, education achievements, etc..

There are really only two guidelines when it comes to what to plot; it’s up to the person themselves to choose the events they wish to comfortably share and the other is that there should be a high degree of respect for what everyone sees on others lifelines. While some might reveal very little of their personal life and restrict themselves to a career path, others might open themselves up to a greater degree adding things like declaring their preferred gender for the first time, moments of great despair and failure etc.

You can see that the level to which a person shares their life journey is indicative of the relationship they feel they have with their audience. Groups that know each other well might reveal more or less than those who are less of a shared history together. This is the kind of activity that you could also do over not just 20 minutes but perhaps a week or more. Maybe people just sit and list on a regular piece of paper their own life events and then transfer these to the larger papers for viewing at a later date.

Now the interesting and most valuable part to this collective exercise is the conversations it generates and the shared or unique experiences people learn about each other. If you are facilitating this exercise in a class, you can draw attention to moments that took great courage, situations in which someone overcame great sadness or tragedy and of course celebrate those moments of great personal satisfaction and joy. It can be extremely uplifting and empowering to have one’s life experiences acknowledged, shared and celebrated.

It can be limited to just career moves as well which some might find safer and less invasive; but you only share what you want in any event. My advice would be to get some agreed upon parameters at the outset from those participating so everyone is okay with what they share and they should know who might look over their life path.

The benefit to this activity is that it can help people understand and appreciate others in ways they could not do otherwise. While one person might get to know another over time and over many conversations, this speeds up that ‘getting to know you better’ process and extends it outward beyond just the people we typically talk to about such things. A deeper understanding and empathy for co-workers, classmates etc. can come about that accelerates relationship building which then in turn can aid in shared projects, shared workspaces and interpersonal development.

A really good facilitator can also articulate and name the skills a person exhibited along their journey in life that they themselves may undervalue or think others will not find value in. It can also provide some good clues explaining why someone thinks, talks and behaves the way they do.

Is there an element of risk and trust in the sharing? Sure there is; there always is in most things worthwhile. Imagine the benefits.