Friday, December 18, 2009

Where are you going?

Last year I spoke to several classes of year 12 students about careers, theirs and mine. I've been reflecting on the discussions we had as I explore some new opportunities for next year.

Some of the students I spoke to had no idea where they were going. Some had a plan, a path they had laid out ahead of them, or that had been laid out for them. A number of them asked questions about goals and areas of employment they had heard about that seemed perhaps intangible and unreal. Many were looking for reaffirmation that their intentions were justified, that the goals they were setting might bring them the lives they hoped for.

It's often the case, that simply pursuing the things we love doing will lead us to the greatest success in our lives, and often the greatest fulfillment. But it's hard to convey this without sounding like Dr Phil.

So I told them a story about the beginnings of my career.

I told them about my year 7 English teacher refusing to mark my work due to my atrocious handwriting. That to resolve this problem, I taught myself to type using an early Apple PC and in the process, built my confidence with computers. I learnt to appreciate that making mistakes was OK when working with computers, and that knowledge served me over and over in later years. I told them that those quick typing fingers also helped me all through my career, and still help me.

I told them about my parents reading me books by the armful as a child, my father making up a new story each night at the end of the bed. I told them about the english teacher that inspired me in year 10, and how a love of stories had helped me meet my wife while studying professional writing and changed my life.

I told them about my hating school, but discovering a love of learning when I left. That my love of story, my fascination with computers and addiction to learning would eventually inspire a career teaching professional development, ICT and English. That I developed a passion for digital narrative that gives me a great deal of pleasure.

Sometimes it's hard to see the threads that will pull us through life. Often it can be the seemingly inconsequential events that will shape the direction we take. This doesn't mean we have no control, it just means that we have to take our passions a little more seriously, whether we make careers out of them or not.

Sometimes a career we love can materialise unexpectedly. The trick, is to see opportunity when it manifests itself. The way to do that is to simply follow your instincts, and to do the things you love as well as you can.

For me, story, computers, learning and teaching are the strong threads that have drawn me through life to this point. I'm taking it on faith that they will continue to help me build a career, and a life that I love.

Where are your passions taking you?