per·se·ver·ance – noun
ser·en·dip·i·ty – noun
“A key learning for me has been to always be open to the paths that are presented……….even those presented in an unplanned way.” – A piece of sage advice from an email I received this evening
When I look back at my life, particularly my life in college, it is amazing to me how much these two seemingly unrelated nouns have played a role in my trek towards graduation. But let me stop myself before going any further. Maybe these two nouns are so unrelated. Maybe perseverance is a means to serendipity… at least in some instances.
Allow me to share a story with you (imagine that). For the entirety of my freshman year and most of my sophomore year my sole source of extracurricular involvement was my fraternity. It suited me well, and I contributed as much as I could during that time. However, entering into the second semester of my sophomore year, I wanted more. I wanted to get involved with campus life. So I applied to a staff position for a program called Dawg Camp.
My interview came and went, and I received an email from the graduate assistant working with the program. You know how it goes… We had an excellent pool of applicants and all those who interviewed were very qualified…. You didn’t get a spot.
Well, how’s that for a first shot at getting involved? My response? I emailed the grad assistant back and asked for feedback. I wanted to know what I could do better so that I could find my way onto the staff in the following year. Later that day I got a phone call… Hey Barrett – this isn’t for sure yet, but if we had a spot open up on staff, would you still be interested? Me: Absolultely!
Well, a spot opened up, and I found myself on the staff of a tremendous program that supports the transition between high school and college. In a role that I didn’t apply for. All because I sent a simple email asking for feedback.
No doesn’t always mean absolutely not, and perseverance can get you in a seat that someone else isn’t willing to go for. That lesson has stuck with me ever since, and I will never forget it. It has served me well to this very day.
I wasn’t looking for a second chance. I was looking to the future. I was looking for a way to better myself. And all of a sudden I found myself in a position to make a difference. To work hard. To enjoy life and get passionate about an amazing program. And I did – I grabbed the opportunity by the horns and took off.
As I near the end of my college career, I look back at Dawg Camp as one of the single greatest factors in my personal growth. I has the wonderful opportunity to serve on the executive board following my year on staff and I wouldn’t exchange that experience for the world.
And it all happened thanks to a tiny ounce of perseverance and a very serendipitous world. You never know what you are going to find around the next corner. Even if its not what you expected, it might make for one heck of an upgrade to your master plan. Be open to the paths presented to you… even those presented in an unplanned way.