By Wade Muller
I covered my first sporting event as a sophomore in high school in my hometown of Watseka, Illinois, a small town about eight miles from the Indiana border. In such a small school, it was easy to stand out as a student, so I was often chosen for assignments that involved writing or speaking. Those first articles were recaps of varsity basketball games that I was actually in uniform for (I only played during garbage time), of which I would collect the varsity scorebook after the game and write up what I witnessed on a word processor (!) for an 11 p.m. deadline the same night. That gig ran all the way up through graduation and ran concurrently with a stint as a disc jockey (is that still a position?) at the local radio station, nights and weekends.
Briefly, I thought I might pursue a career in media, but upon attending college, I went through various phases of wanting to be a rich (a pursuit of an economics major that lasted a whole semester), followed by wanting to look smart at parties (switched to an English major), and needing an actual job to go with being smart at parties (an education minor). All of that translated into my first grown-up job as a schoolteacher and a coach.
I gave teaching 10 years, seven of which were pretty enjoyable, before trying my hand at a couple of other ventures–a gym business that I started from ground zero, and now, my current gig at Westown Ford. Neither of those fields are areas I could have ever envisioned, especially the car business. Owning a gym allowed me to meet some wonderful people and impact the quality of their lives and being at Westown has allowed me to do the same, albeit in a much different medium.
So, what’s the point of this personal stroll down amnesia lane? Well, maybe to let you know a little bit of background about me if you decide to read more of these columns going forward. But more than that, it’s to illuminate a point that I struggle with frequently. And that is, I am often asking myself if I am doing the right things with my life. Am I where I am supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to do? Am I really making a difference to anybody? I suspect that if you are reading this, you may have asked those same questions at some point, or maybe you still are. And as I was cobbling this together in my mind today, my conclusion was this: if we choose, we can make a difference wherever we are, if that is what we are focused on. It doesn’t take a certain degree or a certain salary level to be kind or to show concern and compassion. Everyone around us, whatever our environment may be, can use a warm greeting or a bit of encouragement from time to time. And we don’t have to be the boss to set a tone or example for sharing those qualities–we can exemplify those in whatever position we may hold.
It’s okay to question these matters from time to time, and there’s certainly no harm in wanting to better ourselves through either career advancement or change. But we also don’t need to wait for that certain change to start making a difference. We can do that today–right now–right where we are.