By Mary Ann Faremouth, CPC
With graduation season upon us, I reflect on this time, not long ago, when I was preparing to give a commencement address at a local college. I tried hard to give these graduates solid life lessons as they began their new journey, their new lives, their new entrance into the job market. Big changes were in front of them as they moved into a new era of their lives. They would begin to apply what they had learned in college to the real world and hopefully do it with success.
Commencement, of course, is a beginning. I think all of us are, in a sense, commencing a new normal. The five tips I gave these graduates just might be helpful to folks right now looking at beginning their own “new normal” and doing it successfully. Just like these students pursuing their dreams and moving forward, we are all students of the changes in our lives post-Covid. How we choose to navigate these changes will determine our future. Sometimes we have to take a few steps back in order to take a giant leap forward.
The beginning of my speech went something like this:
“Like so many of you sitting in the auditorium today, when I graduated from college, I was excited but uncertain about exactly what my employment future would hold. There are times in our lives when the future looks fuzzy or unclear, and it can be pretty scary to think through what might come next.”
What I am about to tell you comes from five lessons I have learned, not only from my over 25 years as a career consultant, but also from what I have experienced as a human being trying to survive on this planet. These lessons are things I’ve witnessed, heard from employers, applicants, moms and dads, husbands and wives, friends and enemies, and even from my own kids.
1. Take the Focus Off “Me” and Put It on “We.”
Especially during times of change, thinking of how we can help someone else might be of paramount importance. It can also give us a feeling of benevolence and gratitude for having the health and ability to do it. And I believe our self-esteem is enhanced when we assist another person on their journey to success.
2. You Have to Give to Receive.
Often, we have to surrender to something outside of ourselves to gain strength within ourselves. Sometimes we have to conquer our fears to get what we crave. We are all dealing with fear of the unknown right now. Focusing only on ourselves can perhaps lead us into troubled territory. The irony is that sometimes our success can lead to the greatest failure, which is giving in to arrogance and pride, while at other times failure can lead to the greatest success, which is humility and learning. In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you often have to lose yourself.
Most of us are going through a potentially major transition. In this process, a true rebirth of who we are might take place. We might come out on the other side with a new perspective, expanded awareness, and a more enlightened view of who we can be.
3. Make Friends With Fear.
Don’t be afraid of fear. Speak your fears out loud. Give your obstacles credit, but don’t be limited by them. The challenges we face force us to grow and expand. Fear is often the dragon within that we have to slay. Bravery is not the lack of fear but rather moving forward despite it. Bravery gives us confidence. It is the powerful sword we need to slay that dragon.
Many of us are stuck in fear mode right now. There are ways we can conquer that dragon of fear by making friends with it and moving into more positive areas of our life.
The writer Audre Lorde famously said, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” Fear must take a backseat when we envision our quest and keep marching onward through the many changes toward our goal, overcoming challenges.
4. Life’s a Dance, We Learn as We Go.
“Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.” That’s a line from the chorus of a great song by John Michael Montgomery. We are all surely doing a “different dance” these days. We can choose the steps we want to take. Are we going to twist and shout through the experience of this lingering pandemic, or are we going to waltz through it?
5. You Hold the Personal Pen to Write a Great Story.
You are the ultimate author of the book of your life. I saw a post recently that said:
“You never have to fear the next chapter of your life if you know who the author is.” Perhaps we have to believe the story we all are writing is one of determination. We have to be determined to get through these tough times with grace and dexterity.
Whether you are among the actual commencement students of 2023 or just a student of life, make your new beginning one that will foster your own rebirth and expand who you are and who you can be. Let’s all commence to this “new normal” with a determination and perseverance to come out on the other side as graduates of the school of rebirth and new beginnings.
Mary Ann Faremouth
Mary Ann holds a CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) credential, was certified by the Board of Regents of the National Association of Personnel Consultants in Washington, D.C., and was awarded an Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Leader Bronze Awards by Toastmasters. She cofounded Jobs: Houston magazine in 1997. Mary Ann maintains affiliations with professional organizations, including oil and gas, financial, construction, IT, and structural, mechanical, and civil engineering. (www.faremouth.com)
Mary Ann’s award-winning first book Revolutionary Recruiting has been listed by Book Authority as Number #1 Best 100 Recruiting Books; #1 Best Seller, Non-Fiction, Amazon (2019); Top 20 Recruiting books, Recruitics; Readers’ Choice finalist (2019), Houston Literary Awards; Best Non-Fiction (2018), Best Cover (2019), and Best Self-Help (2018), Authors Marketing Guild. Her books support individuals and corporations, tap into each candidate’s unrealized potential to find the right person for each job, maximizing both employee satisfaction and the employer’s bottom line. Mary Ann showcases her expertise of the recruiting world on a monthly podcast for The Price of Business and weekly articles for USA Business. Her new workbook, Revolutionary Reinvention, was recently released on Amazon. Mary Ann lives in Houston, Texas.