In watching high school and college graduation ceremonies, I note that the graduates all seem full of hope and most full of promise. Some seem to have more promise because of their class rank and even physical features. But, if you have been around for a long time, you know that some with the most promise won’t be successful later in life and some who seem marginal at best will be wildly successful.
I often think of the lady who graduated from high school in the top 10 in her class of 608 students and was the homecoming queen. Today, she lives with her aging parents, has little savings, no pension, and works 22 hours each week at near minimal wage to buy basic necessities.
Careers are a race of many laps. And just because you aren’t ahead at one stage of your development doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in the future. Walter Payton, halfback for the Chicago Bears, ran eight times in his first pro football game and didn’t make a single yard. But, during his career, he ran for 16,726 yards or 4.4 yards per carry and scored 110 touchdowns.
A friend and Midland resident, Michael Miller, who is a 1964 graduate of West Point, an Airborne Ranger, and highly decorated officer in the Vietnam War, tells the true story told to his class by a four star general upon their graduation from West Point. It goes like this:
“It was 1939 and I was stationed in Scofield Barracks in Hawaii. It was my wedding anniversary, so I wanted to surprise my wife. I arranged with the Officer’s Club to have the private use of the rooftop terrace, so I could surprise my wife with a romantic and private candlelight dinner. It was a very nice evening. Then, about halfway through our meal, the terrace doors burst open and a drunk staggered in. It was an awkward moment for us, because the drunk was our best friend.
He pretty much ruined our evening. He sat down at our table and proceeded to pour out his miseries. He was a very unhappy man. He was 49 years old and he was a failure. He had started his military career in a very successful manner, but his career had gone flat. He had not been promoted in 13 years. Now, he was getting ready to retire into oblivion, a very unfulfilled man.”
Well, the four star general paused in his story and then quietly said, “By the way, my drunk friend’s name was Dwight D. Eisenhower.”
History shows that shortly thereafter General George Marshall was looking for a military leader who could deal with the complicated personalities of British and French leaders for our European Campaign. He remembered a staff officer who had been a successful Chief of Staff for General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur was known as a vain and difficult boss, and Marshall realized that anyone who could successfully handle MacArthur could also deal with the British and French military leaders. Thus, he reached over hundreds of available generals and selected an obscure Lt. Colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower to lead our forces in Europe. He chose well. Within two years, Eisenhower had five stars and later became President of the United States.
Keep striving. Keep driving. Your success may well come to you in the next “lap” in this race we are all in.
To comment on this article or share your own observations, or to schedule a presentation, contact Terence Moore at 989-430-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.