One of the fun facts about me is that I was once a security guard at a GM plant in Detroit. Actually, it was one of the most fun summer jobs I ever had. Definitely the most unusual and interesting! I was sharing the story of how I found myself in that position with my friend Mary recently and realized how a seemingly unimportant decision can actually set off a chain of events that help determine your life path.
My story started with my being the third-grade teacher of a student whose mother felt it was her duty in life to set me up with a “nice young man”. Her husband was the Personnel Director (shows you how long ago it was…) at a nearby GM plant. The mother would invite me over to dinner with some regularity, where (surprise, surprise!) there would be a nerdy and uncomfortable young and single engineer for me to try to chat with while my student’s mother looked on encouragingly. It was more than awkward. However, after a few of these “get to know you” dinners, and perhaps because he felt sorry for me, my student’s father mentioned that GM plants often hired teachers for summer jobs - and he could get me one if I was interested. Which I was. And then he told me the little detail that it would be as a security guard.
Two words: Curiosity and Adventure
I have found that these are the keys to moving forward in life. If you approach life with an air of curiosity, anything that comes into your path could become a real adventure. And so it was for me.
Looking further into the job, I discovered there were no guns involved, and the pay was really good, so while this would be unlike ANYTHING I’d ever done before, I accepted the generous offer and chose to view it as an adventure. And it was! I met people I would NEVER have met before, saw what it was REALLY like to work in a factory, made some good money in a few short weeks, and was even told by one trucker, as I was weighing his truck (tare vs gross weight…), that he had heard about me at a truck stop in Pennsylvania. Now how often does that happen? And here is what that summer adventure led to:
- The next summer I got a summer job working as…you guessed it…a security guard at an IBM plant in Vermont, where I was living while going to grad school at UVM
- This led to being offered a full-time job as a secretary at IBM at the end of the summer
- Which led to being an administrator
- Which led to moving to Boston to become a marketing rep
- Which led to meeting my husband
- Which led to his getting a job in NYC and us moving to NJ
- Which led to having 3 Jersey kids
- And so on, and so on…
- Which leads to today
If I had not accepted that dinner invitation, I may not have gotten the job offer. And I may have continued on as a teacher, living in Michigan and living a FAR different life than the one I am today.
Living your life with a sense of curiosity and adventure can take you places you can’t even imagine. Let your adventure start with saying just one word: “Yes”.
Janet Neal is a “reformed superwoman” who believes women have the power to change the world - when they realize it. Her company, The Superbwoman, Inc., helps women to do that. As a coach, speaker and trainer, Janet draws on her experiences in education, in corporations, and as an entrepreneur. [...]