Between the ages of 12 and 18, I delivered the Milwaukee Sentinel. Every week, from Monday through Saturday (the Milwaukee Journal did morning deliveries on Sunday), I woke up at 4:00 am. I’d grab the bundles of newspapers on my porch, insert the ads and the comic strip section, and then make the rounds.
It would take me about 2 hours. Then I’d go back to sleep for an hour, get up, and go to school. It was an amazing opportunity, and I’m saddened that it’s one that most cities don’t have any more. Where else would a 13-year-old get that kind of opportunity? I was trusted to get up on my own every day, perform a valuable service (if you don’t think so, you should have heard the complaints when I missed a customer), and even manage the collection of payments.
Growth Comes from Opportunity
Besides my mom insisting that she drive me when it was below 0 degrees, I was responsible for the whole thing. And looking back, it was a transformative experience. It gave me a situation that enabled me to practice new skills, both practical and personal. I grew into the role, eventually having bigger routes and becoming an assistant manager.
I could rattle off a long list of what I did learn, but I’ve realized how important it was to be in an environment that encouraged and demanded growth. I learned how to deal with adults, how to ask for money, how to track my customers, and how to get my butt in bed by 9:30 every night…all because I was in a situation where I had to.
Put Yourself in a New Situation for the New Year
As you are thinking about the new year, and what you want to accomplish, ask yourself: “How can I put myself in a situation that will encourage and expect me grow?”
Too often, we don’t change anything about how we live and work… and then get confused when we don’t get the personal change we want. We throw out goals and resolutions without realizing that the way we are now is based on the situation we are in now. If you want to accomplish different goals, you have to give yourself a new environment.
Just like a gardener will put a plant in a larger pot once it’s outgrown the one it’s in, we have to give ourselves a bigger landscape to work with once we’ve hit the limits of where we are.
So take on a new project, join a new organization, go for the promotion, ask for a leadership role, or reach out to create a new partnership. You might not have all of the skills you’ll need for success right now, but that’s OK. Take the step, and use that new space to grow and create those new capabilities.
Have a RockStar Year!