…opportunity knocks…or does it?

No pictures this time…but another cool video at the end…please check it out! 

I remember the day after my high school graduation very well.  With my meager belongings packed, I drove to the big city to start my first full time job! I actually  couldn’t leave fast enough.  I had worked part time for a number of years and was now joining a group of 5 others in a management training program for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.  As it turned out, I was the youngest, and only person, without a university degree, having just graduated from high school.  Six years later I would be the last person from that class who left the bank, while the others decided to move on ahead of me.

Banking was a good professional job and, in hind site, I might have stayed longer had it not been such a ‘boys’ club and personally restrictive environment.  It turns out I would be destined for a more creative work life and this was by far the complete opposite of what I needed.  It also turned out to be the last job in my entire work career where I had a formal* training process that taught me how to do my job.  From that point and up to my retirement, every job I would have was accomplished by watching, doing, and jumping in with both feet.

It was a different time for sure, in that you could still get a job without any formal training or a number of degrees.  If you were in the right place at the right time and eager and willing to try something new, you could still get a job and make a career.  In some ways I was ‘lucky’ and in others I was pretty committed and determined to make each job successful, and those desires certainly helped me. I also think the values and abilities that come from good genes, helped me be good at whatever I chose to do.

When I spend time and reflect on the variety and direction of the jobs I have had, I get a little blown away.  I had a very successful hairstylist career with an abundant clientele which started with me watching haircuts done by senior stylists while I worked as a receptionist.  I created my own company which was very successful after I said the right thing at the right time to the right person.  I produced some of the largest fashion events in Western Canada and had a long career on TV doing fashion updates with no previous experience…just because I knew I could.  I was the Director of Marketing  for the World’s Largest Mall, as well as Kingsway Mall because I had proven I had good ideas, and management knew I would work hard to implement those ideas-all with no formal training.

There was a flow to my career with one common theme for each – they were opportunities I took advantage of or created for myself.  As I reflect, I am very proud to say I did all of those things with ‘just’ my high school education.

As I write this, it all sounds so simple and easy.  The truth is- it was an enormous challenge that didn’t come without a whole lot of hard work and commitment. Lots of super long work days and weeks.  Tons of stress, nervousness and anxiety.  I am the kind of person who is never really satisfied with what is.  I’ve always had to make it bigger, better and more; but not instantly knowing how to do it ever stopped me!  That desire for more, for better, is what I credit, in large part, to my success. Well, that, and a whole lot of support from some pretty amazing people in my life.

I still believe that in today’s world, people can be a success, not because they want it badly, but because they work their butts off to get it.  In the real world you don’t  get to be successful just because you want it or dream it. Heck, if that was true, I might have been a heart surgeon!  I was fortunate to recognize my strengths and take advantage of the opportunities that enhanced those strengths in a realistic and practical way.

However, I am so grateful that as I turn 60, I haven’t had to worry about any of that for a whole lot of years! Yeah retirement! The stresses and energy that drove me to push my career and its direction has shifted to finding projects that challenge me to learn new skills and methods.  I guess I will never stop learning and doing and that’s a good thing!

* (The provincial government made me go to school for 15 weeks to get my hairstyling license, but I had already been working successfully as a stylist for years when this happened).

…the wisdom of 59


10 thoughts on “…opportunity knocks…or does it?

  1. Love your blogs. Don’t stop because you are turning the big “60”. Your flowers look AMAZING. How fun to see the fruits of your labor. You are so talented.


  2. I just LOVE your blog! It’s such a pleasure to read. You really draw me in to your posts and your #thingsthatmakemehappy videos make ME happy and smile.


  3. Amazing flowers John! If you ever need to sell some of them let me know. Like others, I really enjoy reading your blogs..you youngster you.


  4. Quite the journey! I love how you decided to take opportunities presented to you and then push yourself and used them to grow in different areas.

    It’s funny…not to diminish the value of post-secondary education – I learned a lot there…but for most part with jobs, as long as you have soft skills and a willingness and drive to learn as you go, you don’t necessarily NEED a degree or certificate. At this point when applying, it’s what gets people in the door, but it’s those interpersonal skills (that you have in abundance) and strong work ethic that lead to success.

    Your retreat space seems wonderful! Enjoy!


    1. Thanks for the kind words and your comments on this post. It is funny that the ‘degree’ or secondary education is for the resume but not entirely for the job skills…I have found that in a whole lot of situations, the book learning doesn’t always translate to the actual work experience. Huge hugs to you…and again, thanks for the kind words!


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