In 1969 I was drafted into the U.S. Army.
It was of course a difficult time. But, my approach to life has always been to see the humor in every situation, and I must say the Army gave me many opportunities.
One of the most amazing things I was given during basic training was a little device called a P-38. For those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of Army service or those who did, but memory doesn’t serve, the P-38 was a rather remarkable can opener. About an inch or so in length, and sort of like a hinge in design, it could open any can of C-Rations.
But enough of simple devices. The device that actually came to mind today was the M (something or another) Protective Mask – a gas mask. The Army as I am sure you can imagine leaves nothing to chance. So prior to our training and field use of this device we were shown a film on how to put it on and detailed examples of its essential purposes by watching an imaginary platoon in combat conditions. What struck me as funny at the time was the introduction to this hour of “entertainment” by the narrator of the film.
There is the obvious use of this device in the case of tear gas, but also discussed was its use during chemical spray attacks (for this you would also don a poncho) and its use in the case you were near a nuclear bomb being dropped. What the announcer wanted to make clear to us was that you wouldn’t ORDINARILY expect a patrol to encounter ALL of these conditions. (Boy, I was glad he made THAT clear.)
I know you are all wondering how I am going to connect this to your career and your job search, but never fear there is a link.
Over the course of your involvement in the corporate world you become in a sense a unique device that over time collects more and more uses. You build up skill sets of all kinds doing this, that, and the other thing for various employers. I frequently get the impression on both sides of the equation – employer and employee – that unless you are doing ALL the things you know how to do in a potential job, that you won’t be happy.
If I may draw an analogy based on the obvious point made by the narrator of the film above, it is unlikely in the extreme that you could ever find a job that used ALL of your remarkable skills.
In fact, what you should be looking for in your next “work opportunity” is the chance to do SOMETHING out of your “tool box.” And, just about any facet of what you know how to do will suffice. Of course, any job that uses all you know how to do is most likely to pay you the highest salary, but practicing any element of your skill sets in new environments will at the very least move you down the road.
The quest for the perfect job in the perfect city at the perfect salary just isn’t going to happen because it isn’t possible.
Of course I want you to be happy, but as a friend of mine pointed out many years ago, happiness is a choice. Choose to work and choose to work at something that will prove useful to you in terms of building skill sets you have or need to get. Work is a tonic, and you may be surprised how much you will enjoy even things you thought were “beneath your dignity.”