Starting stuff is a great habit to get into. It doesn’t really matter what field you are in, there are new directions that can be taken, there are new areas to be conquered.

I am a Spanish instructor at a small college in the Upstate of South Carolina. When I first arrived, there was barely a minor in Spanish a few courses in German and French. That was the entirety of the Modern Languages department. It has been a great collaborative effort with my coworkers, a great department chair, dean, vice president, president and board of directors. Over the last ten years, we have designed many new courses and put into place an interdisciplinary component in Spanish, then a major (B.A. in Spanish) and a Spanish-Secondary Education degree. There is a thriving summer abroad program going each year. The French program has grown to include a minor and interdisciplinary component, German has grown. We have added American Sign Language (ASL) which has over 100 students in the program now. We added Linguistics to the department and it now has a minor and interdisciplinary component and is heading toward a major. This fall, we will be adding Arabic I. Next summer, if all goes well Hindi will be introduced and then the following Fall, Mandarin Chinese. I have a proposal in the works for a semester abroad program to Honduras for the Spanish Program.

Once the abroad program is in place, I am not sure what else I can do to directly affect the trajectory of the program. As mentioned, I like to start stuff. I am guessing you do too since you are reading this. So, I am sharing with my readers a personal dilemma. In order to directly affect the future of the department, I would need to go back and finish my PhD. That is one option that I am seriously looking at.

As I hit this crossroads though, I am looking out at other options. Here are a few.

  • Apply to work for the U.S. Department of State in their foreign services division.
  • Do my own thing flipping houses while continuing to teach.
  • Keep starting new projects like Greenville Swing and Tres Tortugas Publishing that each bring in small streams of income.
  • Try to get a job writing full time.

Do you ever find yourself at a crossroads in life wondering what your next step should be? Unfortunately, there isn’t a road map for us. We much each travel our own roads. Good luck with your road. I will keep you updated on the direction my road takes as the months and years go by.

 

Chatting with a young lady named Courtney in a cafe as she shared what she was looking for in a guy. Basically, a Christian, college graduate who owned his own construction company and likes to hunt. She doesn’t have a real guy in mind, this is just her ideas for the perfect man in her life. I was curious why she wanted him to be a college graduate.

It made me think, in business, what are we looking for?  For many companies, the college diploma has taken the place of the H.S. diploma to signify that an applicant can follow directions, read, do basic math, and complete a project. Is the college grad what we are looking for? I have written a few posts about my struggles with the direction of higher education. Is the college graduate what you are looking for. If not, then how is a business to vet the applicants?

How do you tell someone’s work ethic, creative abilities, ingenuity? This will require businesses to do a little more work in checking out their applicants. The background check might be more extensive. OR the business could employ the hire slowly method. One of my friends who has a construction company hires at very good wages. Before he hires an employee though, they work for him as a temp day laborer for two weeks. He can see their work ethic, how they interact with the rest of his crew and whether they are going to be a good fit for the organization. If they are a great fit, then after the two weeks is up, they get a review, a pay raise and job security. If they aren’t, he thanks them for their time and for coming in and helping him out during this “busy time”. The person wasn’t fired, so there is no negative ding to their employment record, but my friend is only out a couple weeks salary, he isn’t stuck with a deadbeat employee. It seems that this approach to hiring would benefit just about any industry. This would eliminate the need for the Bachelor’s degree shortcut in the resume check.

What are you looking for?

 

What part of the box you live in are you pushing on?

Where are you trying to knock a side of that box down a little bit?

Where are you crawling over the edge?

If you aren’t, Why not?

Sometimes when we try to think and act completely outside the box, we can be met with complete resistance and a public that just isn’t ready to accept our ideas. Working on something that is just barely outside the box can help stretch it out. You can bring people along who wouldn’t necessarily take a huge leap out of the box, but if they can reach out over the lid to get to your idea without completely leaving the safety of their box, then you can be successful in taking a baby step.

I have written before about kicking the box over the hill, and that works wonderfully for some people…maybe for you, you just need to peak out of the box…slowly.

 

 

 

A few years ago, I proposed some new courses for our Spanish program. Those courses were researched, written up and ready to send to the curriculum committee at our university. I believed at the time that they would be positive additions to the courses that were then offered in the catalog. They had both been taught at “Special Topics” courses multiple times with solid student appreciation.

Then the proposals sat.

And sat.

And sat.

Then, after a few years of sitting, in the queue, my boss asked me for them again. Note that it was not the fault of my boss that they had been sitting, it was the university waiting for some other things to come in line before moving forward with those proposals. He too had been frustrated by the wait. But, as they say, “all in good time.”

Now, we are moving forward again!

Sometimes, it can take time to get moving on your ideas. It may not be your fault. All you can do is prepare for the moment when the opportunity comes and then you will be ready to move! I had the proposals ready to e-mail as soon as the school was ready to move forward. I didn’t have to go back and do all the research in order to make it happen. A couple of edits and it was out the door.

When you have a great idea, but it seems that you aren’t getting any traction, don’t get discouraged…sometimes moving forward just takes time.

Especially when working with a larger organization. As an acquaintance used to say, “It takes time to turn a battleship. It isn’t a JetSki.”

Patience is tough when you want to move on a project NOW, but in time, your work will be worth it. I think the title of this blog should have been “Start stuff…and then wait.”

 

I have written many times on the importance of reading. Mostly, you would find me reading non-fiction in order to learn more about a given field of interest. The last month I have been hooked on a fiction series. While fiction, it has caused me to look up more words than anything I have ever read before. You may have never read anything by Vince Flynn, but I am now about eight books in to his series on Mitch Rapp, the counter-terrorism operative. Since beginning reading this series, I have learned an incredible amount about the U.S. Intelligence Community as well as other countries Intelligence Communities and specifically the Israeli government. His books are well researched, and while fiction, they do open up a lot of non-fiction doors for research.

One inspiration I have had since beginning this series is to learn Arabic. So far, that has consisted of picking up a cheap Learn Arabic CD set to listen to in my truck while commuting.

What have you read fiction or non-fiction that inspired you to go learn new things? In my mind, that is part of what makes something great literature!

 
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