I was talking with my friend, recently, regarding the many opportunities that Southern Illinois University affords.
I recall, so vividly, being asked to assume the Assistant Superintendent position, when I had been a foreman for less than a year. All of my foreman colleagues were senior to me…and I was just getting into the job that I had considered the capstone of my career.
I sat up all night…mulling over my decision to take the position or not. I had interviewed with the Assistant Director of the Physical Plant and my boss, the Superintendent of Building Services. The Assistant Director had conducted the interview and during the course of the meeting he had criticized my ability to follow through on custodial needs that occurred in my area of responsibility.
I knew that I had no problem in following through with my foreman duties and that in fact I had been asked to oversee, one of my senior colleagues’ foreman areas while he joined the Superintendent in extra curricular activity.
When the morning dawned…Mary Jane told me that if the job worried me so much as to keep me awake all night that I should refuse it. I agreed.
I, subsequently, told my boss that I appreciated the offer but that after the interview I had determined that I needed to work on being an effective foreman before I became the boss of he foreman.
My supervisor’s face fell and he told me how disappointed that he was…I liked my supervisor very much and appreciated all that he had done for me.
I proceeded to my area of responsibility and about thirty minutes later my pager went off and it was, Ray, asking me to meet he and, Dale, at Woody Hall. When they arrived, Dale, asked me if I would join them at the McDonalds that was across the street.
Dale wanted to purchase my dinner…but I would not be plied by expensive food offerings.
As Dale spoke to me regarding his sadness that I did not want to accept the Assistant Superintendent position…he noted that he had not determined that he was going to give it too me anyway…and that he had told, Ray, that I would not accept his constructive criticism, in the interview, well.
He went on to say that if I did not take the job that he was going to offer it to a custodial foreman, that was my age, from Northern Illinois University. At this point I looked at Ray and he was shaking his head in the negative position and he looked very sad.
I accepted the job…I was 29 years old.
Though there are often storm clouds on the horizon…there is always the sun waiting to break through.
There is an old saying, ‘Opportunity Only Knocks Once’, and I consistently found this to be true.
Twelve years later, the Director of Plant and Service Operations told me that I could accept the Superintendent of Building Services position…or that he might just contract the department out to an outside cleaning service.
I accepted the position and held it for the remaining 13 years of my SIU career.
My friend, Jo Ann, who was the chancellor of the University asked me too consider accepting either of two administrative positions at the University…I probably would have accepted one or the other…to help her…if she had not been terminated two months later.
It is impossible too for see, in your crystal ball, what life has in store for you and it is vital to listen to the…often…quiet knock on your door of opportunity.
Throughout my over 32 year career I discovered that the civil service staff are the backbone of the organization.
Administrators and faculty, often, work at several universities during their careers. However, the civil service staff, have the most invested and longest outlook and the passion for success for their’ School.
Often, opportunity comes from places that you did not expect.
We all have a comfort zone…and we enjoy being ensconced in it.
But, what is the plan for our lives?
What did God have in mind for the gifts that he gave us?
There are few things that are more enjoyable than doing what you were meant to do!