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Friday, January 20, 2006


How I Found My Purpose: Chapter 1

A friend asked last night how on earth I came to be doing what I do, and I thought you, dear readers, might be interested as well. "What shall I do with my life?" is the question that brings a lot of people to coaching. So here is an example; how I found out what I should be doing. This is a loooooong story, so it will unfold over the next few posts.

I've been concerned with this question since I was about 12. Apologies if the following information is now out of date; this is how it was for me. In England, 12/13 is the age when one first starts making choices about which subjects to drop. At 16 you take your first real national exams, the GCSEs. Which GCSEs you take determine which A-Levels you are allowed (by a school) to take, which determines what university programs you can apply to successfully. In England, one applies to a subject-specific undergraduate program - you cannot just show up and declare your major later.

So as you can see this was a big decision, very early. I didn't really want to drop anything, except History and English Literature. We were required to take English Language, English Literature, Maths, French, one other language, one science and either History or Geography. We had 9 examinable spots to fill in total.

Advice on making these choices was minimal, a group lecture on not shutting doors to our possibilities. I remember agonizing for days, deeply resentful that I couldn't do more of the options, but the school wouldn't let me. Biology and Geography were my favourite subjects, so that was easy. The language choice seemed obvious. I could see Latin used in the subjects I loved most, and the teacher was an amazingly smart, dedicated, and passionate woman. I couldn't have articulated it, but I was drawn to her for those reasons. Plus after the misery of French lessons since I was 10, I wasn't willing to chance it that German might be more of the same.

I decided not to take Chemistry and Physics seperately, because that was two spots used up. Instead I chose Physical Science which was a mix of both, primarily designed for people who hated science but had to take one. This would allow me to take science A-levels and still give me an extra spot to do somehing I loved now. Art, or Music? How could I choose? I loved them both!

I was deeply involved in my school's excellent music program by this time, and I was also participating in county orchestras as a violist. It seemed like the obvious choice. But when I went to tell my Art teacher than I wouldn't be studying with him any more, he was terribly frustrated. I remember him saying it was a waste, and he was sorry he wouldn't get to see my work develop. I remember being very surprised and rather sad, hearing that. Still, I went ahead and chose to take Music.

Why am I telling this part of the story in such excrutiating detail? Two reasons:

1. It was not fair of the school to deny me the opportunity to take more subjects. Acknowledging timetabling issues, they could have relaxed their "required" subjects, and should have pointed out other options - correspondence courses or community college. I was 12 and my world was small, unimaginably so for today's teens - this was pre-internet. I sorely needed advice and counsel.

I think one of the most important things to teach gifted kids is self-advocacy. If I had felt more comfortable challenging authority, perhaps I could have got what I needed. As it was, I accepted their restrictions as "the way it is".

2. My Art teacher's comments stayed buried in my memory until 2001 when I took a watercolour class. This was the first visual art I had done since I was 14, and I found out that I actually did have an "eye". After a couple of classes I remembered what he said so long ago. I was overjoyed to find out that I could develop that latent talent now.

So if you remember enjoying something in school, but didn't pursue it, it's never too late to try your hand at it as an adult. Like me, you may find a source of enormous personal satisfaction is just sitting there, waiting for you to call it forth.

Technorati tags:

"Milan, how did you find out your content was being harvested? I'd like to check mine."

There are a number of ways I've found content of mine cropping up elsewhere. I keep an eye on my server logs for robots and try to figure out where they are indexing to. I also keep track of who is linking to my pages through Technorati and the 'links to' option in advanced Google search options.

Perhaps the easiest method is just to search for an unusual phrase from a post that is a few months old. If it comes up anywhere else, take a look and see what is going on.

Controlling access to your site is a lot harder while you are still hosting on BlogSpot. If you move to you own server you can, for instance, block IP addresses.
Thanks for the heads-up, Milan.
Jo, that was a moving story.
Hello -
My first visit here n I hv just read first chapter on "How I Found My Purpose"
I hv bookmarked this page n wud b visiting again soon.
M a writer myself n it is against my ethics to use someone elses work. If I ever feel like using ur work on my blog I wud b asking u first and then mention ur name n link.
[I hope that shd b fine wid u]

God Bless You
Sounds great, Arti! I can always use a good link. It helps me get the word out about my coaching practice.
All the best to you,
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