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If I Had Heeded This Advice...

Which why to go?

....from my grandfather when I was 12 years old, my life would have been totally different. It is likely I would have not developed an intense interest in radio that led to a 40 year career. Without that decision I would have not been in a particular town to meet a particular woman who would become my wife. 

The backstory is simple: at the age of twelve I had been selected to become a counselor in training at a YMCA camp an hour or so from my home. I was too young to have much authority, so my job was to help the 16 year old counselors manage the young boys in our dormitory, make sure they got enough sleep, made it to breakfast, and spent their two weeks having fun.

Apparently, I was a rather "young" twelve. I didn't know how to motivate the younger kids. I allowed cliques to develop that targeted certain boys for bullying. Within four or five days I was homesick and wanted to leave. My parents suggested I give the experience another few days to see if things evened out. They did not. So, at the end of the first week, mom and dad drove to the camp, picked me up, and took me home. They were obviously disappointed but didn't make me feel bad about my "failure" to stick it out.

When my grandfather was informed, he wrote me a long letter (back in the days when letters were the way to communicate!).  After several supportive comments he began a section that he felt his grandson needed to hear: that I had given up too soon, I needed to give things time to develop, and I had to keep commitments. He let me know he loved me and hoped I had learned some valuable lessons from the experience. He suggested I return the next summer and stick it out.

So, how did this change my life? Since  I was home for the summer instead of away at camp, I discovered a passion that would be the center of my life for the rest of my working years. I visited a local radio station and fell in love. Within 3 years I would be a 15 year old disc jockey with my own show after school and on weekends.

That would lead to other radio stations and other cities. In one I  fell head over heels in love with a woman who would become my wife and the mother of my children. Eventually, I would decide to come off the air and become a consultant and market researcher, helping almost 200 other radio stations maximize their potentials. That allowed me to save and invest enough to retire at 52 and begin my satisfying retirement.

My grandfather wasn't wrong. His advice was correct and something I needed to be told. He let me know I had some growing up to do. But, as things worked out, if I had gone back to the camp the following year, it is likely the circumstances that put me inside a radio station and became my career would not have been the same. 

The point of this story? Sometimes an event that shapes our lives is triggered by a disappointing outcome or failure of some kind. We can let that define us and limit what we are willing to try. Or, we can chalk it up to a learning experience and move in another direction or attack the problem with a new perspective.

Advice should come with a warning label. It could be exactly what you need to hear, or might be "hazardous to your health." That is a decision you will have to make. I am quite comfortable that I ended up on the right path.


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