Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Optimism Will Take The Day

“Do not let us speak of darker days; let us speak rather of sterner days. These are not dark days: these are great days – the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
These are famous words spoken by an English statesman. Who said this? The words were spoken by Winston Churchill. What was the occasion? The Germans had successfully invaded many European nations and now bombs were falling on London.

We all know how this story ended – the British withstood the devastating attacks that ravaged their country and went on, with the assistance of the United States and other Allied nations, to defeat the German military machine. This tyranny was removed from the European continent. But on the day Mr. Churchill spoke those words to the world, the outlook was much darker. The pundits thought that nobody could stop Germany and after they had dismantled England they would prepare an invasion of the United States and other nations.

How did we get from such a desperate outlook to a successful defense of freedom? It’s impossible to claim one reason for the success of the British fight for freedom, but the optimism shown by Churchill certainly played a large part in it. “These are not dark days: these are great days”, he said. Great days? Average citizens were using the subways as bomb shelters and normal life had ceased to exist. What is great about that? Well, with a cynical outlook, nothing. However, Churchill was able to see the silver lining that was far off in the sky. He thanked God that “we have been allowed…to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” Churchill didn’t express the sorrow and heartbreak many British felt, but spoke of the light at the end of the tunnel. The light was certainly a long way away, but without the optimistic vision he gave the British public of their future, they likely never would have seen that light return to their shores.

There is a great lesson here. Optimism, not cynicism, will lead us to success. Gordon B. Hinckley quotes his father as telling him, “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.” Let us strive to see the sunshine behind the clouds of our lives. It worked for Britain and it can work for us. We will all face challenges, struggles, and battles that seem impossible to overcome. I believe that we will never be given a challenge too difficult to overcome. With an optimism to see our eventual goal alongside a healthy dose of diligent work and faith in our abilities, each of us can make our own struggles “memorable in the history” of our lives.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Last Thursday was my final day working with Accenture. I've spent the last week reuniting myself with my only other employer, Kings Dominion. What a difference a week makes!

Accenture is a great company. For an entry-level position, I was offered competitive pay, and some of the best benefits and work flexibility around. I also enjoyed the folks that I worked with. I learned quite a bit professionally and personally through them. In down time, I also learned about stock trading and sports. While all of the benefits stacked up in an impressive manner, the work left me wanting more. I spent the majority of my day communicating by e-mail, tracking down managers, and doing menial analysis of financial numbers.

I understand that entry-level jobs are never glamorous. But, with that known, I still hated the idea of going into work. When I got there, I completed my tasks, did what was required, and quickly went into a state of passing the hours until I was able to escape for the night.

We spend 40 hours or more per week at our jobs. That's more time than we likely spend with those we love the most or our hobbies. So, knowing that work comprises a majority of my non-sleeping time, why should I spend it somewhere I don't particularly enjoy?

I've heard the rationales. I spoke with coworkers and friends who had many opinions, most along these lines: "I don't particularly enjoy this job at all, but it pays the bills and once I got married that was what was important." "At some point, I had to grow up, and this is a comfortable and secure job." "All jobs suck, it's just a part of life." It was the last point that stuck out. All jobs "suck"? I'm a particularly optimistic person, and I can't stand to think that I will spend five days a week doing something that I just don't like. There has to be something better.

Contrast Accenture with the last week. Is life at Kings Dominion perfect? Hardly. However, I look forward to going into work. Depending on the day, I might be filing paperwork, running a ride, cleaning a wave pool, managing an area of the park, teaching a training, auditing rides, or talking with employees and guests. The diversity of the job already makes it more enjoyable than my last year at Accenture. Most importantly to me is the fact that I get to interact with people regularly while I'm at work. And surprisingly, my favorite day of work last week was while cleaning a wave pool. There's something refreshing in working with your hands.

I'm not saying that Kings Dominion is my dream job - I still don't know exactly what my dream job entails. What I do know is that I've taken a step forward. According to many "professional standards", I've moved backwards. A cut in pay, longer hours, and very few benefits. But I did move forward. I'm happy. When you're happy with what you're doing, you have a lot more for everything else. For yourself, your friends, and your personal endeavors.

With what I've experienced over the past year, I've decided that when I return from my mission, I plan to avoid a "corporate" job at all costs. I want to have a self-starting job. I don't know exactly what, whether its in ownership, entrepreneurship, franchising, or something else. I don't even know if it will work. I might end up back in the corporate world once I need a "secure and comfortable job". But until then, I want to give it a try. Who knows, it might just work!