When my son graduated from the University of Arkansas last May, the commencement address was given by Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods. His inspirational, “go get ’em” message challenged the graduates to do great things and change the world. He quoted Mark Twain. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.
Heck, quote Mark Twain to me and I’ll be inspired all day long.
Finding your why. Those three little words are weighty.
For many years, I felt my “why” was to be the best parent I could be to my two children. And at the same time, while I was raising my kids, I worked in banking. I started at the bottom and slowly worked my way up to senior vice president in the commercial lending department. Was it my “why”? I didn’t know what that meant. It was my job, and for the most part I enjoyed it and paid my bills and saved some money and if we’re being honest, which we are, I loved the wardrobe that went along with such a career, too.
There seems to be an idea in this country that one should only do what feels 100% fulfilling. If a job isn’t your fantasy job, don’t do it. Don’t waste a single moment doing something you don’t absolutely love.
This mentality makes me want to poke myself in the eye. Grunt work is part of the deal. Sometimes grunt work means working for someone else. A corporation that makes profits. Oooooohhhhh noooooooo.
People, profit is not a dirty word. Our country can’t survive without businesses that make profits. Yes, there are certainly lots of CEOs making ridiculous amounts of money, but this is not about that issue. This is not about the 1% or politics or any of that. This is about good, normal, hard-working folks trying to get by. People who’ve put their “why” on hold.
I applaud those people and the companies that hire them.
There’s nothing wrong with working hard and building a nest egg and waiting to realize our dreams. Sometimes that’s the responsible thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re one of those people who set the world on fire right from the get-go doing what you were meant to do from day one, bravo. You are a unicorn. But me? I took a more circuitous path and I’m still figuring it all out. My journey has been part of the process.
I rather enjoyed the corporate ladder. Each rung provided a lesson and all those lessons shaped me into the human bean I am.
Sometimes when you get to the highest rung on your ladder, you find something completely unexpected.
I love writing. Today, writing is my why. Maybe tomorrow a different why will find me. Again, part of the journey.
Good luck to all the graduates, including my daughter who graduates from law school next week. Those unwritten pages are for you to fill. Work hard, don’t take yourself too seriously, remember where you came from, and be a good human bean. Always.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten