As we grow up, there are many people who offer us advice: our parents, siblings, other relatives, teachers, friends – the list goes on and on. Quite often, we fail to heed this advice; the frivolity of youth causes us to believe we always know what’s best. Then we reach an age where we start dispensing advice to younger people… and realize all those people from our younger years were right.
Not much is more gratifying than having somebody come and tell you that you were right. Many of us have had to make this admission to our parents and others from long ago. Just in case I haven’t told some people that, here are some things others were right about that I didn’t necessarily believe at the time.
My third grade teacher, Mr. Galvin, told me that writing could be fun. While I enjoyed writing, I didn’t necessarily consider it fun while I was going through school. It was another hoop to jump through, and it wasn’t very difficult for me.
I think back on that now that I enjoy writing more than I ever have. Between my column and my two novels, the most important thing is the fun. I’ve rarely done a job in my life without enjoying it, and I wouldn’t sit down to type out some ramblings every week if I didn’t like doing it. Good advice that only took me 25-30 years to figure out!
When I started at NRHEG, Mr. Nordlie told me to shut up for three years. Most of you might think that an impossible task for me! However, I took that advice, reluctantly. He said that I should stay in the background and learn by watching. If I had problems, I should ask for help. If there was something I didn’t like, I should build a bridge and get over it. Once I had established myself in my job, then I could start to test the waters if there were things I thought should change.
This was good advice. Even if it was tough for me to keep my opinions to myself those first years, I managed, and I found that I did indeed learn much through observation. There were plenty of established teachers who would help me if I had a problem and guided me through some trying times.
So many people have this early in a career, and thinking back, I realized that Mr. Nordlie’s advice probably works at many jobs. There is not always a need to come in and rock the boat immediately. There are even times when I thought something might not be working in the structure of the school, but by keeping my mouth shut, I came to realize that some of those kinks worked themselves out. Rather than insert myself into a situation, there were many of those that didn’t need any help to be resolved.
Growing up, I saw how involved my parents were in local groups. When Dad joined the school board of the Catholic schools in New Ulm, he told me that some things needed to be changed. There were times you had to step up and work hard to see that change. He thought the same thing as a member of our parish council and in other organizations.
Over the past decade or so, I’ve started to heed that advice too. There have been areas that I thought could use a fresh perspective. I’ve followed in Dad’s footsteps by becoming more involved. I joined the negotiating team for our union because I wanted more input from some of us that are right in the middle of our careers; I felt like our opinions were not being heard. When a calendar committee was formed, I was first in line to sign up. My main concern there was making up snow days, and I feel like the committee has done a good job of making adjustments to it which make sense educationally.
And that leads to advice I got from Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, when I started reading comics: With great power comes great responsibility. I thought of this recently while trying to put out fires as a negotiator and a member of the calendar committee. I have a responsibility to listen to people and take into account all opinions. I have a say in those two important areas, but my opinion is not the only one, and I have to exercise caution before jumping forward without taking into account all sides of an issue.
So to all those people: you were right! Sometimes it took a while to use, but I’m thankful I had people to tell me important advice.
I hope everyone has a blessed Easter season. That combined with vestiges of spring make this a wonderful time of the year!
Word of the Week: This week’s word is recrudescence, which means a renewed activity after a period of dormancy, as in, “The recrudescence of the grass and leaves was a welcome sight in April.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!