Personal and Professional Reinvention

In the spirit of the summer season it is appropriate to celebrate independence and be mindful of freedom. Having meaningful work adds value to one’s life. With work taking up so much of one’s life, it is a place where we can express our talents and abilities. Today’s work life and fabric is very different from years ago. Statistically, one can expect to be with several companies and in various careers over a lifetime. The days of one career and one company have changed dramatically and are for most a thing of the past. The world and its technologies, industries, and economies change and move at a faster pace than ever. “What do I want to do when I grow up?” has changed to “What do I wish to do next?”

Certainly a trait that is needed is resiliency. Fortunately the way of the spirit and the heart is stronger and abundantly more effective than any other power. The human spirit enjoys an amazing resiliency and an incredible capacity to begin again each day no matter what. The capacity and willingness to reeducate and move along with the flow is fundamental to ongoing success and adaptability.

In my own world I was educated with a liberal arts college background and once thought I wanted to be a lawyer. I started out like many as a paperboy. I matriculated to a more profitable business of cutting neighbors’ grass and then taking care of their yards. This led to starting a landscaping business at 15 with my brother, which I later built into a high-end residential and small commercial construction business for a number of decades. We started as a way to earn extra money and save for college. It turned into a way of life in that I can combine my personal and professional passions. After a bout with cancer and being unable to work construction anymore, I was moved and forced to take stock of my skills and begin again with a new career in my early 40s.

I learned that the skills, education, and life experiences I possess are able to be transformed and indeed are transferable. A thought, personal mantra, and belief I have always held is that, “A seed can remain dormant for years. All it takes is the right amount of sun, water, and temperature to change it and cause it to grow. And then all at once it seems as if the world is in bloom.” I began nine years ago in the datacenter business and continue to work in the field today at the same company in a deeper, wider role.

Outsourcing, downsizing, and economic hard times captured a trend of the changing work force more than any phenomena recently. Oftentimes life’s hard hits or needs cause us to change and grow. Sometimes it is calling that can’t be quieted. It is a blessing when one can parlay their passions, gifts skills, and talents to move to a more meaningful type of working career.

Two men I interviewed for this piece both made radical career changes later in life after successful previous careers and training. Both made a move in their career paths to improve their quality of life and create and manifest a more meaningful life for themselves and those around them.

Meet former Air Force 1st. Lt., pilot, and intelligence officer, then advertising madman, and now high school teacher, middle school coach and Boy Scout leader Frank O’Grady. He currently coaches the seventh-grade Rocky River High School team and is an assistant Scout Master at Troop #421 in Fairview Park. He spent many years in a successful creative advertising career. The changing times in advertising and a calling to teach and coach moved him to serve others in a more meaningful way.

FrankOGradyScout Leader

Recently Frank took a Rocky River Middle School group to the National History Day program and hopes to return again this year.

Meet William Welches. He holds a PhD in biochemistry and was a research scientist for a number of years before returning to medical school in his mid 40s. He was called to help others in a more meaningful and present way. He is now an osteopathic physician with board certification in family practice medicine. Bill has a specialized expertise in osteopathic manipulation. His area of specialty is pain management, using osteopathic manipulation, along with several programs including diet therapy and counseling, to help patients with their pain. His techniques and programs are integrated with those of his colleagues in the Pain Management Department to provide patients with comprehensive treatment.

Both men spoke candidly of some seeming universal themes in this delicate and important life affirming process of self actualization and change in ones career path and what drove them and pushed them on at mid life.

Key points to reflect on in career changes:

  • Reflect, imagine, and dream what your ideal career can be.
  • Follow your hunches and inspiration and work to connect your past to the future.
  • Understand the education and training required.
  • Be open to aptitude testing to honestly asses your abilities.
  • A desire, dream or calling should be reviewed carefully.
  • Know that sometimes the best employees are those who are evolved and truly love what they do. If one does what they love, the money will follow.
  • Seek career coaching and professional guidance.
  • Leverage one’s connections and network.
  • Mirror and solicit insight from those who know you well and are objective and supportive and will mentor and share candidly with you. Be quick to listen to others and resonate on the feedback given.
  • Faith and prayer helps. Seek guidance from trusted spiritual advisors. Discernment is a creative process.
  • Be willing to undergo any and all training and education necessary with a determination and commitment.
  • Be willing to sacrifice and allow the Universe to reward your investment.
  • Most importantly, don’t quit.

Be ready and willing to change and grow. Look inside, reflect, and ask others for help. The process entered into will pay rewards and add meaning to your life and those around you. Remember the words of Langston Hughes, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

Link to CBC Magazine: