County News Home Page
January 28, 2008
NACo Home Page
NACO Home Current Issue Back Issues Editorial & Advertising
County News


Finding Yourself

As a collector of technology toys, I recently upgraded my portable GPS to one that has all kinds of additional functions. One of those functions is called “Where Am I?” The user’s manual also refers to it as “Finding Yourself.”

The idea is quite simple and quite helpful. No matter where you are, as long as you are in a location where the GPS can pick up a minimum number of satellites, you should never worry that you will be lost. You simply push two buttons and once you were lost, but now are found. The GPS will tell you precisely what your current location is down to a matter of feet or yards. 

What a wonderful metaphor for issues we encounter at work as well as in life. Knowing where you are is a wonderful blessing to any of us. How often at work do you wonder and worry about the uncertainty that seems to be all around us? Am I doing a good job? Will my work on this project be successful? Am I at risk of being laid off? Will I vest in the pension program? Will my work make a positive difference in the lives of others? Will I be re-elected?

All these types of questions are not unique to fellow employees of course. How great it would be if our questions could be answered with a device that required us only to make sure our batteries were charged and then to press two buttons.

Likewise, in our broader life (which includes work but goes way beyond that one aspect), we also worry about uncertainties. What will the doctor’s appointment next week reveal? How will the kids do in their journey through high school? Will my family relationships get better and better with my spouse and my children? Or, how can I help turn my child’s life, my marriage, or my own health and happiness in a more positive direction? Just push the “find” button twice and there are the answers!

Interestingly enough, it is entirely possible to “find yourself” in a manner which goes far beyond a physical location such as longitude or latitude in a GPS. 

Here are some techniques for what the Global Positioning folks call “way finding” in your own life.

One of them is to develop a support system of friends and family who know you well enough to feel comfortable pointing out things you do well, and things you could and should do better. Friends and family are often the best two-button solution any of us can have to not lose our way.

Another critical tool in our personal GPS is finding a person whom you trust and respect to serve with honesty and caring as a mentor and a teacher. At almost every place of employment the menu of possible mentors is full and rich. It may very well be your supervisor or director; it may be a colleague working right next to you. It could be an elected official or any of the customers or clients with whom you regularly interact. 

I learned a lot from many people. One of them was the blind cafeteria cashier at a county government cafeteria. The setting was not modern, the food was not the kind that would ever tempt Rachel Ray or Wolfgang Puck. But at the end of the cafeteria line several times a week when meetings or other scheduled issues precluded a trip outside the office for lunch, I would be greeted at the cash register by someone who lost his eyesight but never lost his vision.

He was quick to smile, quick to ask how I was, quick to ask what I was working on and what my plans might be for the weekend. The talk was “small talk,” but the real impact was to be in the company, however briefly, of someone for whom a major life disability, as most of us would view it, was just part of his life. It did not stop him from a consistently optimistic outlook which was infectious to everybody he encountered.

How could any of us whine and bemoan our own day-to-day miseries in the face of meeting a person with the kind of disability which could lead most people to depression instead of optimism?

The point is that role models and people from whom we can take life lessons are all around us within easy GPS range if we only open ourselves to the possibilities.

For many people in our society, religious beliefs provide the key satellite readings to help them find themselves. For others, it may be a personal philosophy of life. As I have said repeatedly in past articles, “joy is not to be postponed, opportunities to help others are not to be bypassed” and we must try to live a life where we “never walk by something wrong.”

My new GPS makes it easy to find myself, but I have been doing it for years. I will continue to try everyday to build on a solid foundation so that whenever I worry about finding my way in some new situation, I can step back and view my situation from a much broader and comfortable place. This is the place where I know that what I’ve learned and how I try to live my life can help me make it to the next way-point.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to play with and use a GPS in your day-to-day travels, give it a try. They’re a fun tool. But remember, they are not the only tool we can use on the job and in our lives to find our way when we feel lost.

Phil Rosenberg

The HR Doctor •


Job Market / Classifieds

Financial Services News

The H.R. Doctor Is In

What's In a Seal?

News from the Nation's Counties

NACo On the Move

Research News

Profiles In Service

In Case You Missed It ...

Tools for Tough Times
Write to Your Editor
Print This Page

Bookmark and Share
NACo Home  |  Current Issue  |  Back Issues  |  Editorial & Advertising
© Copyright 1996-2002 County News