No one in my family ever attended college before.
My mother and her family were farmers who grew up in central Virginia and basically lived off the land. My father, who grew up with 5 sisters, a brother, his mother and assorted relatives grew up in a two room house in the poorest of mining towns in West Virginia. Two rooms, a bedroom and one room with a wood burning stove. When my grandmother, his mother, could not always take care of him, my father spent part of his childhood in an orphanage.
They were good and caring people, but there was never much talk in my family of going to college.
If you would have suggested to me as a teenager, that I would spend much of my life with presidents, prime ministers and great achievers of all kinds, I might have certainly questioned your sanity. But as the events of my life began to unfold, I came to understand something very special about life…
Our lives, yours and mine, consist of turning points or forks in the road. These turning points are the powerful influences and defining moments we all experience. They are the people who come in to our lives, the special moments in time we experience, and those unexpected events. These turning points define our success and accomplishment in life more than any other lesson we will ever learn. Success and accomplishment just do not happen in a vacuum.
The first of these turning points occurred for me in high school. I had a mentor who was a teacher, the athletic director and football coach. He encouraged me to go to college, but even more than that, he inspired me. I wanted to be just like him.
I graduated from college with a degree in education and went back to the junior high I had attended years before to become a teacher and their football coach. A few years later, I went back to college and upon getting a master’s degree, I became the intramural director of the University in charge of the recreation for the general population of students. When the University built a new athletic field house on campus, the University’s first, I was hired as the assistant athletic director. Five years later, when the athletic director announced his retirement, I was promised his job.
This was my dream job. I had far exceeded the expectations of that teenager who may or may not have ever gone to college. Then because of another turning point in my life, I quit and walked away.
Because you are 36 years old, it doesn’t mean you can’t listen, still learn and change directions in life.
Note: My next article will pick up where I am leaving off.
About the Author: Bernie SWAIN is one of Your Monthly Mentors, the founder of the pre-eminent lecture agency in the world, Washington Speakers Bureau. Over the last thirty-five years, Washington Speakers Bureau has represented three US Presidents, four prime ministers of Great Britain, countless American and world leaders, business and economic visionaries, authors, media personalities, and sports legends. In 2016, Bernie released his new book, What Made Me Who I Am. Today, Bernie remains Chairman of WSB and travels with Paula, his wife for 41 years, and spends time with their 3 children. Bernie also speaks and writes extensively. Read More…