Rarely will you, as an entrepreneur, answer that question at 45 years of age with the same answer you had at 20. I remember hearing that the average number of careers we would have over a lifetime was 6. Today it seems that’s how many balls we juggle in a day, between family, work and dare I say our own needs!
Experience is a wonderful teacher, and coupled with waking up every morning to being a day older the wisdom we glean over the years is what makes us who we are. When I graduated from Sheridan College with a newly minted Computer Science Technology diploma, my answer to the question above was, “I am an Assembler programmer, happy employee of Sears downtown Toronto.” Happy? Well, I was living my parents’ dream…honours student in high school; post-secondary education; cute little one-bedroom at Yonge and Eglinton; j.o.b. with 2 weeks vacation, health and dental benefits and the opportunity to move up in the company. For my fellow boomers, I felt like Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat up in the air during the opening credits of the Mary Tyler Moore show – I had it all!
In quick succession, I met (and am still madly in love with) the man of my dreams. We got married, bought a house, travelled, changed j.o.b.s. several times for promotions and pay raises. In short, my life evolved the way it “should” throughout the 80’s!
Our daughter’s birth rocked my world, and it was no longer “all about me”, now the full time j.o.b. and dream house no longer motivated me. I needed time to be with this little miracle we had created. And so the world of self-employment came knocking on my door. They say you should be careful what you wish for! Scared as I was about the uncertainty of no more steady paycheque, no benefits and certainly no vacation pay, after much soul-searching and late-night cups of tea with my rock of a husband, I handed in my resignation, jumped off the cliff and am still sewing my parachute on the way down!
My company, HiTeach, was registered in July of 1989, and I became Corporate Trainer to business professionals, and over a span of 25 years my answer to the first question in this blog changed, sometimes daily, sometimes annually on long contracts, and as my kids grew older so did the radius expand within which I would travel. How blessed I’ve been to travel across this amazing continent doing what I absolutely loved – helping people. It was no longer about what I could make the computer do, but about sharing the knowledge and skills to help others make their computers sing! But increasing their aptitude was not the only thing I noticed happening…I was noticing their self-confidence grow over the time I spent with them. My “rush” became watching a group of people evolve from hesitant with a keyboard, to dropping their shoulders, sitting up straighter and willing to take chances (although the Undo button helped too!) I could see an attitude shift; self-confidence leads to more smiles, and smiles are the gateway drug to happiness. There was no greater reward for me than to hand them their certificate at the end of the day and getting a “thanks, I get it now!”
Fast forward to today. What is my answer to the question? “I am the Happiness Ambassador”, and the joy of this answer is that I don’t have to wait til the end of a training day to get the smiles! As Happiness Ambassador I demonstrate the benefits of the “glass half full” outlook, I encourage people to practise the “attitude of gratitude” and I revel in the gifts given to me to help change the world one smile at a time!
By Anna S. Hill, Happiness Ambassador at the ASH Group. Check out the Happiness Ambassador at her Facebook Page.