The month of June marks a number of annual events, including the end of the school year, and thousands of graduation ceremonies across the nation. It is a wonderful time to reflect on accomplishments, and enjoy the milestone with family and friends made along the way. Many believe, however, that the more fitting and proper name for the event is Commencement. It is more appropriate because it really does mark a beginning, not an ending. The journey just completed was in preparation for what lies ahead, not just a short term finish line.
The amazing part of it all is that as ready as we think we are for what lies ahead, we ultimately can’t see further ahead than the horizon. We can only hope that the lessons we’ve learned, and the tool set we’ve acquired along the way, have prepared us for the variety of circumstances we might face. My high school commencement was thirty years ago this week. It marked the end of a chapter of my life that provided the foundation for many other opportunities I would take part in while in college and beyond. Even as a teenager, the early lessons in leadership, collaboration, teamwork, problem solving, and accountability began to take form. I’ve always been very grateful for the guidance and support of my parents, teachers, coaches, and other mentors during those very formidable years.
This blog post marks a similar milestone, and is actually my BEALEADER Commencement. A year and a half ago, I started to grow a stronger appreciation of what it takes to author and sell a book idea. At that time I had not been authoring on a regular basis, nor had I established an audience. Twitter has been a fantastic social media vehicle to find people with similar interests, and it was on Twitter that I first came across BEALEADER weekly chats, and got to know its founder, Jen Olney. I really liked the topics she chose for weekly chats, as well as those that contributed to the dialogue each week. Many of them were Resident Writers for BEALEADER, and soon mutually exchanged follows with me on Twitter. A few months later, Jen offered me an opportunity to be a BEALEADER guest writer, and the following month I was “promoted” to a monthly Resident Writer. It helped me develop the discipline to identify a good topic, on occasion also conduct some supporting research, and then start the writing and rewriting process that leads to a post worthy of its audience. With each passing month, I felt that I was continuing to challenge myself, sometimes looking inward in a perspective piece, and sometimes pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, but all in an effort to improve my writing.
None of this would have happened without the guidance and leadership from Jen. She saw something in me and my writing that perhaps at the time I didn’t even see in myself. Jen provided me an opportunity, and provided support along the way that allowed me to grow tremendously over the past year and a half, and for that I am very grateful. As with other Commencements, this month’s post marks another critical milestone. Looking ahead, I’m not necessarily sure what opportunities will present themselves, but I do know that I have sharpened my tool set and am better prepared for the next chapter than I was before, all thanks to my BEALEADER experiences.
This Commencement is not as formal as most, but in many ways just as important. And as I move my tassel from right to left, a final “Thank You” to Jen for her energy, inspiration, support, and guidance. Regardless of what lies ahead, the collective experiences have formed what I hope is a sound foundation for my writing future.