Hopes in Perspective

Charley was unsure what he wanted to do with his engineering degree other than he wanted to make a difference. When he graduated, he started his career working as a design engineer for a socially responsible company. His work was highly praised, but Charley wasn’t satisfied with the work he was doing. Being in a design lab everyday wasn’t what he had hoped for in a career.

While working, Charley earned an MBA and that led to his next career move. He went to work for a venture capital company where he helped validate product designs of potential investments. Then he would coach the founders of the business start-up on how their designs could be improved. While this was more satisfying than his previous job, it was still not what he had hoped for.

Charley was able to return to his alma mater to head up a New Ventures Maker Space where students and faculty could work on prototypes of potential patentable ideas. Charley’s experience in the private sector and in the venture capital world was invaluable in seeing several businesses launched. While the success of these ventures was very rewarding, it was still not what Charley had hoped for.

Throughout his career Charley had lived a very frugal lifestyle, and with his earnings from businesses he had helped get off the ground he was very well off financially. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Charley joined the Great Resignation and retired.

He posted his retirement on Facebook just to let those he had worked with know that he was still available to them, but not in an official capacity. What followed was totally unexpected. Charley’s Facebook page was filled with testimonials of how Charley had been so helpful to others. While the testimonials touched upon Charley’s technical contributions to their success, that wasn’t the common theme. What became very clear was that Charley was highly valued for the hope he provided to those he worked with. The hope in this case wasn’t technical. It was personal. Charley wasn’t a cheerleader, but he did provide hopeful and realistic guidance of a personal nature.

As Charley reflected on the testimonials, he began to realize that his own hopes for his career had been realized. He did make a difference. He just had the wrong perspective of what that difference would be. Rather than making a difference in a technical capacity, he made a difference by fostering hope in those he worked with. Those memories brought out in the testimonials were what encouraged Charley to continue working as a counselor for troubled youth. Now that Charley discovered the perspective that he had missed most of his career, he wanted to share his ability to foster hope at the end of his career.

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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” – Marcel Proust (Novelist)

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