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.