Follow in their footsteps

September 11th, 2014



Summer’s over. School’s in session. And, as per usual, people have arrived back to God’s Eighth Wonder of the World, JCU, riding high off of their summers of relaxation and restoration.


While tanning, taking a dip in a pools, traveling and the like are typical for a summer vacation, mine didn’t fit that stereotypical mold. And to be honest, I’d be willing to bet that my summer without fun in the sun has far exceeded any other that I’ve had. My summer experiences have taken me further in my personal formation than any ever before. And it all took place in boring, old, corporate America.


Everybody’s heard the cliché that big things come in small packages. In fact, I’m sure most people have heard it enough that it has lost any luster or meaning for them. But has anyone considered whether green things come in blue packages? What about bright things in dull packages? Great things in lousy packages? But I’ll stop before I get too far ahead of myself, because all this talk of packages might have you wondering whose birthday is coming up.


Over the summer, I worked at an investment firm. As the lowly, coffee-preparing intern charged with dutifully handling the monkey work of the office, I’ll admit that I sometimes did not look forward to the workday when I woke up in the mornings.


Instead, as I hit snooze on my alarm clock at 5:45 a.m., I dreamt both literally and figuratively of ways to avoid the humdrum work week.


As a naïve and inexperienced intern, the monotony of a pencil pusher’s life came as an incredibly deflating experience. My dreams of being a hotshot quickly began to melt away.


However, as my caffeine tolerance and remaining time as an intern waned, I began to find myself enjoying the previously-dreaded work. Why? Good question. It wasn’t until recently that I figured it out myself.


Instead of dragging my feet at work each day (which I was tempted to), I adopted a slightly more jovial approach.


Reviewing documents laden with financial jargon transformed from monotonous to manageable. The garble of daily meetings no longer plagued me. Instead of shutting down, I tuned in to each meeting’s frequency so that I wouldn’t miss a beat.


I searched high and low for ways to add excitement or fulfillment to each day. Because at the end of the day, I realized that my attitude towards the work was just about the only thing I could control. Whether I wanted my workload to disappear or not, it wouldn’t. But, at any point during any given day, I had the power to push the boredom from my mind and try to focus on establishing an uptempo approach to my day.


Some of you, like some of the other interns who I worked with daily, might think my approach is slightly lame. To that, I offer no rebuttal. But I do refuse to accept that it wasn’t worthwhile. Even a slight adjustment to my perspective allowed me to chart an entirely new course for my summer’s work. Where I was once sailing smoothly towards a would-be dull summer, I redirected my attitude and replotted my course.


So before you tune me out because you don’t think this column applies to you, give my approach a shot. On your next daunting assignment, get excited about what grade you could get (which should be an “A,” in case you’re unsure).


Be hopeful for the next big opportunity you could land. Consider this: every event in your life can be a gift. It might not come in the shape or size that you expect, but it can still be the best present you’ve ever received. You just have to unwrap it the right way.