Are You Careering? or Careening?

“Get a career!” he said.

During the second semester of my senior year of college I was hired to be a teacher.
A few weeks later I was informed that I would be assigned to a small school in South Florida.
One room, multi-grades.


The term ended and I headed South.
My first assignment, however, was a classroom without walls. I had been assigned to a Youth Camp to do whatever the camp director assigned.

The months of June and July I spent in the swamp, building a boardwalk to the tree house, a quarter mile or so away from the main camp. A power augur, which I had never before even seen, creosote poles for supports inserted into each hole drilled through the tangle of roots and water plants.
Cross ties to keep the poles kinda straight up. Two-by-six planks for the walkway.
By the end of July, we had the way completed to access the tree-house – without canoes.

This was not the career I had signed up for.

Have you ever felt that way?


The school year began and I was out of the swamp and into the classroom.

My class included students from grade 1 to grade 8.
My training was in secondary education. History and Spanish, to be exact. What was I supposed to do with First Graders?
I felt like I was in a car with no steering wheel, headed swiftly down a steep incline. My father had sometimes used the word ‘careening’ to describe such an event. Disaster seemed imminent.

1.) I needed a Coach, a Mentor.
Fortunately for me, my mother had been a great teacher in the children’s departments of our church. She had also kept children in our home. I drew on every Mom Memory I could muster to plan lessons for these children entrusted to me. Phone calls to Mom and to my superintendent reached through the wires and fed me encouragement and instruction.

2.) I read. I read a lot. Textbooks. Teacher’s Editions. Student Editions.
Library books on Teaching and Learning.

3.) The Calendar became my friend. Every book used in every class was divided into learning sections by page numbers and scheduled for the teaching days of the school term.
I knew the facts in the subjects to be taught. But with the schedule in place I could concentrate on the lessons for this day or this week without much thought given to what would be required next week or next month.

4.) I learned to watch the faces of my students as we engaged in class. From their expressions I could tell if they understood. From their remarks I could gauge how fast to proceed and when to review or repeat.
Feedback. You ignore feedback from your students, colleagues, and bosses at the peril of your success.
My students’ parents were a great source of feedback. Students happy to be in school are learning.
My superintendent visited and counseled me. I listened carefully and implemented his suggestions as soon as possible.

5.) Teachers’ Meetings afforded me the opportunity to make friends with others facing the same or similar challenges. Friendships helped to create a feeling of belonging, membership in the business of teaching.
I renewed friendships from my student days. I shared stories, plans, and dreams with family and colleagues.
Multi-State Teacher Conventions opened new doors of opportunity and increased my knowledge and skills.

In the context of my experiences you have read the Five Most Important Ways to Advance Your Career.
Putting these Five to work for yourself and your future I call Careering.

Careering: Intentional, persistent effort put into making your performance the best it can be.
Careening: Traveling down a steep slope with limited steering control. Making your way through your job with little more than day-by-day efforts.

Here they are again:
1.) Get a Mentor or Coach – and use him/her.
Focus on your career or business
Also find a Speaking Coach to improve your communication skills. Others have to understand you and your ideas.

2.) Read about your business and industry. Its history, accomplishments, and needs.
Also read widely so that you’re not a one-topic wonder.
Self-help books. Personal improvement.
This habit helps shape what you think about and how you think about it.
Always be looking for ways to do more and do better.

3.) Use a calendar to schedule your work.
Be sure you understand the schedule your boss has in his/her mind. Share this calendar with your boss and co-workers.
In the context of ‘Schedule’ get your work done, well, even when it requires more time than planned, so that you meet your schedule. Others are depending on your completed work so they can do their work.

4.) Use Feedback, Appraisals, Evaluations
Seek input on your job performance. Study evaluations. Take feedback seriously.
Don’t be offended by any feedback. Take time to think about it and see that it likely has some value to you.

5.) Network with others in the same industry or business.
Develop friendships in other business circles.
Use your sports or team likes to make new friendships.
Attend conventions and gatherings and mingle.

You learn a lot more by listening than by talking.
A talker only hears what he-she already knows.
A listener gains knowledge from the experience and thinking of others.

Focus on your business now. Take these Five Ways To Advance Your Career and apply them to yourself and your job.
I won’t matter if you are an hourly worker, a fast-food maker, a vice-president of industry. These Five, when applied diligently, will take you where you want to go.

Are You Careering? or Careening?


Leave me a Comment or email me with your experiences in business success.

Excited About Life-Long Learning

Everything is connected if you know where to look.

My Discovery

I had never experienced an inability to understand a subject in school. I was a Straight-A student. I read in many different genres and topics and retained significant knowledge. Making connections between ideas and knowledge that I picked up from reading, listening, and schooling, came easy to me.

The college that I attended fired the Chair of the Modern Languages Department and discontinued the degree offered in Spanish. That was my major. I planned to be a teacher of Spanish at the high school level.

Casting about for an anchor to hold onto, I chose Nursing. I could become a CRNA. I switched my major.

Second semester in the new program I was required to take a class in chemistry.

I applied the patterns and skills that had always enabled me to get good grades.

Nothing stuck. Nothing connected to what I already knew. I was failing.

The Chair of the Nursing Department called me to her office.

“Your chemistry professor says you are failing his class.”

Embarrassed, I nodded.

“Our program has a 100% pass rate on the N-CLEX test. You are jeopardizing that record. Please change your major to something other than Nursing.”

I was mortified. I walked out of the building feeling like I had a sign on my back and forhead that said, “Kick me! I’m a loser!”

Several years later I was teaching English and History at a high school in California. Two weeks before the beginning of the Fall term, the principal called me in and said, “Our Chemistry teacher just resigned. You are the only faculty member with that period open. You will be teaching General Chemistry this semester. ” It was not a question. And he handed me the textbook.

I worked those two weeks to get two weeks ahead of the students. I did. And I stayed ahead of them. I began to understand the subject.

Thus began my quest in Life-Long Learning – stretching, expanding my academic understanding.

Now It’s Your Turn

The Academic self focuses on knowledge, understanding, cognitive acuity, and career-based growth.

Get Started

First, ask yourself some questions. Be honest. This is personal, no one else needs to see or know what goes into the answers to the question.

1. “What don’t I know?”

2. “What don’t I know about?”

3. “What subject has been difficult for me in the past?

4. “What could I learn that would get me a promotion? Or qualify me for a different job?

Write some answers to these questions on paper. Or type it into a document on your computer or mobile device. Really! Do it now, before reading on.


Learning is mostly about connecting new material to what you already know.

In my experience, few teachers help their students understand that ‘fact’ and teach them how to apply it as they are given new material to learn.

Don’t stop reading yet.

A caterpillar who doesn’t change, never experiences being a butterfly.

Perhaps you wonder why you should work on your Academic Self.

Why should you learn something new?

Reasons to Learn at Every Stage of Life

1. Self satisfaction

You always wanted to learn … but Life interferred.

You want/need to remove an area of ignorance.

You want update your basic knowledge skills.

2. Career update or advancement

Nothing stands still in the worlds of business or industry.

3. To have something in common with your significant other, or friend, or business associate…

4. To off-set potential age-related cognitive decline

5. To fill time (after retirement) – offset boredom

6. To prepare for service in your church or community or family

7. To re-invent yourself – a New You

Now, look back at your answers to the 4 Get Started questions.

Maybe the 7 Reasons list will help you find more answers to those questions.

Next Step


Delay is Deadly.

Become the butterfly that is inside you right now.

You could…

Volunteer at a local school.

Volunteer at the local library. Be available after school hours to tutor.

Grandchildren are a great excuse to learn more.

Connect with an elderly or shut-in person in your church and become a friend.

Many colleges offer to seniors free enrollment in classes.

Many courses are available free on-line and over smart TV.

This is #5 in the series Seven Spheres of Life.

Other articles already available

1. Spiritual Sphere

2. Physical / Health

3. Relationships

4. Personal Development

I’d love to hear from you. Drop a Comment or email me.

Achieving Personal Development

When I was 8 years old my parents took me to live with my Aunt Clara and Uncle Ben on the farm.

It was there that I had my first encounter with the violin. On Friday evening, after chores were done, we took our weekly baths, and then Uncle Ben would take his fiddle from its home on top of the upright piano and play.

I was in love. Oh, how I wanted to hold that instrument and make it sing.

But it was forbidden fruit. Only Uncle Ben was permitted to touch.

Up to this time, the musical part of my personal development had experienced only my mother singing. I had probably heard other music during my 8 years of life. But nothing struck into my developing brain to cause me to thrill – until the violin.

I could whistle, and I am sure I could carry a tune. My sister and I sang a duet for a closing school program, and no one ran screaming for the door with their hands over their ears.

Personal Development: Working on the parts of my self that enable me to participate well in the human experience.

Even the restriction to not touch the violin was part of my Personal Development. It involved a pattern of obedience and respecting the property of others.

Personal Development engages you in many parts of your life. Some examples are –

Anxiety – Peace
Acceptance – Tolerance – Dislike

Enjoyment of
recreational activities
art – culture
literature (reading)

Personal image – view of others

Skills – a work ethic – a play ethic

Your Goal in each area and stage is to be Balance – Avoid Extremes.

I think of the four stages in the work of developing a person in this sequence:

1. Knowledge – Exposure to things and experiences for the purpose of knowing

2. Acceptance – Allowing and considering new experiences

3. Preferences – Deciding what you like and what you don’t like

4. Performance – Mastering skills to the levels of Accomplished and/or Expert

Parents control the beginning stages of Personal Development, as infants and children are subjected to the parents’ preferences and choices. Touch, taste, attitude toward ‘new’, sounds, music, activity, style, dress.

Parents pass on their own attitudes toward Knowledge and Acceptance, which controls the child’s Development in these stages. This embeds a pattern that will likely be followed by the child as the child becomes an adult.

The Preferences stage begins in the infant/child and continues into adult-middle-age.

The Performance stages of Personal Development have the best outcomes when Care-takers begin the work during the childhood years.

Before we reach our adult lives most of the foundations for Personal Development are already in place.

Parents control early exposure to the ingredients of Personal Development.

Parents provide a pattern for dealing with new experiences.

The child begins to accept or reject the parent’s patterns for dealing with ‘new’.

Adults determine their own response and actions toward development. It is often more difficult to acquire the Performance Stage when beginning a new skill as an adult.

HINT: Many old people tend to be stuck in their ways, with little acceptance of change. Don’t be an old person.

My daughter, at a young age, decided she did not like peas and beans. Unfortunately, a vegetarian diet makes liberal use of those dietary items.

She had the balanced diet of baby food items. Later, we placed some beans or peas on her plate, expecting her to develop an acceptance of them over time.

She would carefully work her way around the plate, avoiding the detested items.

We would make her sit at the table until she cleaned her plate.

She would sit there for hours, with her arms folded and her bottom lip pouting.

To this day she does not like them. Not everything works out the way the parenting books say it should. And some children have a clear understanding of their preferences early in life.

Adults need to have an openness to change in order to take themselves through all four stages listed above.

Personal Development needs to take into account our Personality Type.

Depending on which school of thought you choose, there are 4 basic personality types, or there are 12, or there are 16, or even more.

Human Personality has been studied quite thoroughly. Take an on-line test if you are unsure of your label.

Check out this link with several tests you can take.

Personality tests will provide you with some knowledge to help you in your interactions with life. But nothing in the results should make you give up with a dismissive “Oh, Well! That’s how I am.” Certain tendencies are identified, but you can change, you can learn how to adapt, you can move toward the center.

Your Personality (Temperament Type) will reveal strengths and weaknesses that you may have. Use the strengths to move the weaknesses to have lesser control over your choices.

Focus on cultivating habits/patterns that are “Good-for-me” and “Good-for-those-important-to-me”, in work and recreation, – in other words – in your Personal Development.


I was in my 30s before I acquired a violin of my own. I can’t play any recognizable melody on it. Never had the resources to take lessons.

But my grandson is taking lessons and plays for me.

I hope this article will encourage you to work on your self – and your children and grandchildren.

What have you done with/for your children to promote their personal development? With what results?

What have you done for yourself?

I’d love to hear from you.

Email me or Comment on this post.

Good Habits Get Good Results

Did you make any Resolutions for this new year?

Often, people grow tired of, or frustrated with, making resolutions.

Maybe because they have tried and failed in the past.

Maybe because they have lost the dream.

Actually those two reasons are tied together.

We give up on the dream because we have tried and failed so many times – to continue the charade seems pointless.


But take courage, there is still hope.

Let’s take a close look at Habits, because…

That’s where success or failure comes from.

Habits come from repeated behaviors. Period.

The key to success in creating a habit is Persistence.

Anatomy of a Habit

A habit is the result of you doing, saying, thinking – something – over and over.

I get up in the morning, get dressed, make a hot drink, and sit on the couch in the living room. My digital reader is there where I left it the previous evening. I flip it open and start my Bible app. It opens to the place I bookmarked the previous day. I read for up to 30 minutes, or until I encounter a passage that asks for reflection.

My Habit Experience

That’s automatic for me now, after more than a year of repeating the behavior.

But at first it was a challenge. I wanted to do other things, maybe turn on the TV, maybe read something other than the Bible.

I struggled with creating the habit.

I believe that God wants to spend time with me. When I crowd Him out, He is disappointed.

While I was forming the habit I had to remind myself – often – that God was waiting for me to spend time with Him.

I don’t know how many times I said, “This is important! I won’t disappoint God!”

Repeated and repeated, until it is now a habit.

Whether habits begin in behavior or in thoughts – I’m not sure it matters.

Purposeful habits begin in the thoughts – you make a decision. It’s the will taking action. Making a choice.

Act on that choice repeatedly and you have a habit.

Actually, habits are responsible for just about everything we do during a normal day.

Changing a habit is the trick.

Take some quiet time and list your routine actions – your daily patterns. With that done, it is likely to be easy to identify some time – daily time – in which you could replace an old habit with the new one of God Time.

Bible reading on the couch.

Looking for evidence of God’s love in Nature.

Journaling to record your Spiritual Journey. Writing about it helps to establish some accountability in the Divine Relationship.


Write to me about your journey.

Seven Spheres of Life: Relationships

At the restaurant yesterday, I asked for a Mango drink. Mango nectar and water. It was delicious.

As I sipped it, I began thinking about some of my favorite people. They qualify as delicious also. Without them my life would be less.

Naturally, I also thought briefly of some other relationships I have had. Bitter. Distasteful. Spit-it-out bad.


We have many kinds of realtionships.
Recreation team members
Church friends
Drinking buddies
Club members

And there are acquaintances – people you know casually, but don’t spend social time with.

How can I look at a relationship to determine if it is Mango delicious, or Spit-it-out harmful?

Do you remember anyone teaching you how to make friends? I don’t. Mr Rogers may have for lots of people. I grew up without TV.

I did learn the Biblical injunction: if you want friends you must be friendly.

In my mid-twenties I got divorced. Suddenly the social group that I had considered ‘friends’ were unfriendly. I don’t remember getting unfriendly. But, I was no longer included in the invites.

I worked for the church, I socialized with church members. It would be pretty accurate to say that I had no close friends outside of work and church.

No, don’t feel sad for me.

I learned a lot. I matured a lot.

Looking back at the experiences surrounding the divorce, I began to recognize some clues that should have warned me about the unhealthy relationships that wove around in my life.

Let’s focus on the positive qualities of a healthy relationship. By understanding healthy relationships, unhealthy ones will become obvious.

Maslow wrote about human needs and developed what is known as “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” an ordered list of five things that humans must have. Click here to study this topic.

Relationships occupy the middle position, right after Physical needs and Safety needs.

Good Relationships are the anchor points that enable us to feel good about ourselves and achieve our full potential.

Friends help us move into the Fifth Level of Maslow’s Hierarchy, where we are empowered to reach our full potential.

But it’s an obvious point that some relationships make us have negative feelings about ourselves and drag us away from “self-actualization” or, reaching for the stars.

How do I go about measuring a relationship to see if it is diminishing me or elevating me?

A real evaluation will involve writing.

Just thinking about it probably won’t accomplish the goal.

Start by making a list of your friends and acquaintances – a written list.

Then look at and think about each individual and your relationship with him or her. Take notes.

There are some simple, straight-forward ways to get a true picture of a relationship.

How do I feel about myself and my goals for myself after spending time with _____? (Fill in the blank with a name.) Be honest with yourself. Just get the feeling.

Feelings can be more accurate than logic.

A person may be connected to many parts of your work or personal life. But the relationship may be bad for you.

Don’t look at family connections right now. If you are in a committed relationship, and you are questioning whether it is healthy, evaluate your contribution to the relationship and determine what You can do to make it better.

Some times an unhealthy friendship can be turned around when you work on being the friend the other person needs.

It’s okay to change.

It’s okay to inspire others to change.

Friendships involve Giving and Taking. Both parties need to do both – Give and Take.

A person who only takes from you will drain you, and leave little for you to give yourself.

Evaluate your role. Are you balanced? Giver and Taker?

There are quizzes online that you can take to evaluate relationships. Most of them have to do with romantic relationships.

A good relationship has certain qualities:
Respect – mutual, both directions
Acceptance – of individuality, of differences
Communication – open, as equals
Self-control – emotional and physical
Value places value on your personal goals

Think about a friend. Take one of the ingredients from the list of qualities and assign a value between Negative 5 and Positive 5 for how that person demonstrates Respect for you.

Then take the next quality and evaluate. (I have a form in the Worksheet to help with this.)

Relationship Sphere Worksheet

The hard part might be what you need to do when you realize that a relationship is damaging you.

You can try to communicate with the person and ask him or her to change. But my experiences have caused me to believe that there are people who are takers, and they don’t see a need to change.

Sometimes there really is only one choice: end the relationship. Move that person to the Acquaintance List.

I’d love to hear your comments on this post. Positive or negative. How could I make the post better?

Thank you for reading.