I remember being back in school and my mom telling me it was time to wake up. Then, as is true now, I was not a morning person. I’d lie in bed until the last possible moment with the covers pulled tight over my head. I could hear strains of “Reminiscing” by Little River Band or “All Out of Love” by Air Supply from her radio as my Mom sweetly sang along while getting ready for work. My dad was long gone, already at work hours before I dragged my groggy self out of bed.
My dad was a carpenter, a craftsman, and built things with his hands. For many years, he worked for TG&Y then he moved on to building furniture until he was forced to retire due to health reasons in 2005. He showed me that you work hard in this life. If your back hurts (his often did), you go to work anyway. I recall only one or two days that he missed due to illness over the decades. My dad was also a dedicated employee, working hard day in and out, year after year. My mom, too, was a good worker. They set an excellent example for my brother and me. My brother is one of the hardest working men I know. Because of this, hard work and dedication are qualities that I admire in others and instill in my children.
When I became old enough to make my own money, I was anxious to do so. My mom worked in an office at OU Health Sciences Center and she lined up an opportunity for me to do some work in another office. I’m not sure that I started off as the best employee but I tried to learn what I could as I took the mail between buildings. From there I moved on to Target when I was 16. I was assigned to the Health and Beauty department stocking shampoo and toothpaste shelves, building end cap displays of soap, and helping customers. The worst part of the job was during Christmas time and we’d have to stay late (even on school nights) to help clean up the toy department. People are pigs! I also wasn’t a fan of cashiering, which I’d have to do when we got busy. You would be shocked at the number of times that a woman pulled cash out of her bra to pay me. Yeah, thanks.
After that I moved on to a brief telemarketing gig at Lawn America before landing at Horn Seed Company. I worked at Horn’s for the rest of high school and college and became the store manager. I learned a lot about hard work and dedication during that time. I was fortunate enough to attend Oklahoma City University on academic scholarships while working. My parents and student loans paid for what wasn’t covered by the scholarships. I wasn’t exactly a typical OCU student. I lived at home for my first two years. During Spring Break, when most of my sorority sisters were going on awesome trips to the beach, I was working because we weren’t allowed to take off in the spring. I often worked 6 days a week during this time while also taking a full load of college courses. It wasn’t easy but it was totally worth it.
After landing a full-time job as a credit counselor using my degree after college, I still worked at Horn’s part-time in the spring to make some extra money. At times I have had as many as four jobs at a time. So, hard work definitely isn’t something I’m afraid of. But there is something that I am afraid of.
For me, hard work and dedication are really the easy parts. I’ve had great examples in my Mom, Dad, and brother. But, if I had only been a hard-working, dedicated employee, I’d still be the best shelf stocker at Target. The critical missing component that doesn’t come naturally for me is being able to step outside of my comfort zone and to see what else is out there. I’m great at staying at jobs but leaving them has been really hard for me.
After being at Horn’s for so many years, it was scary to leave a job that I was comfortable in. I knew everything about it. There were few surprises. There were also few challenges. I knew that in order to grow, I’d have to move on. But it was terrifying. I did move on and it was the right decision. I ended up staying in my next job for 14 years. I started that job as a credit counselor and left as the Vice President. I worked my way up, again through hard work and dedication that my parents had taught me. When I left there, it was even more terrifying. But, I knew it was time to go. I walked around feeling nauseated for weeks.
I had to prove to myself that I could make it if I pushed myself to do something really outside of where I was comfortable. I applied for a job with a company in California that required me to travel all over the country. I sometimes wondered if I was crazy for thinking I could do it. But, you know what? I did it, I did it well, and I loved it. Then, after two years, another opportunity (my current job) came up closer to home. But, this one may be my biggest challenge yet. Why? I love it so much because it’s causing me to expand my mind and learn new things in areas I didn’t even know I could learn. I am working on obtaining my financial securities license. I’ve decided that I can rise to meet this challenge, too.
Sometimes I may not be comfortable. I may go kicking and screaming into the unknown in some cases. But every time I have moved in the direction that I KNOW I must move, it’s been right and I have been better for it. During my time at Horn’s, we often taught people how to re-pot their plants into bigger pots when their roots needed more room to grow. It’s pretty much the same with people. The key is knowing when you need more room to know.
The unknown can be scary but it can also be exhilarating. Just because change is hard, it doesn’t mean that change is bad for us. What kind of life would this be if we just stayed in our comfort zone? I don’t want to live that way. I want to push myself to be more than I am. I want to see what I’m capable of accomplishing in this life. I may not always succeed but at least I’ll know that I tried. Wish me luck as I tackle my new job and take my securities exam soon. What have you done that has pushed you outside of your comfort zone?