Friday, February 23, 2007

Hot Steel on Fabric

"There's nothing that makes me feel quite like a man as hot steel on fabric" - ever since I saw that clip from Will and Grace, I think of it every time I iron. I get up every morning and press my clothes for the day, and that 15 minutes it takes to iron up a tie, shirt and pants (I don't dry clean) gets me to thinking about...stuff.

Lately, there's been lots of chatter about why we do what we do. Folks have goals that they've set for the year, people are fighting with finding the time to train vs. time with family and work, and there are blogs with lists that explain a few things about their authors. It seems to be a time to reflect and try and figure out why we endure the pain and suffering. So I've been doing some introspection myself, and this morning I finally hit the nail on the head when it comes to explaining this part of ME - I don't get satisfaction from my job.

Some people complain that they hate their job. I don't hate my job. Some folks hate the people they work with or for - not me. I have moments where I like my job a lot. There are many things about my job that I really like. I just don't get satisfaction from it. It does not define me, like it does many people, especially those who gain deep satisfaction from their career. I used to have that, years ago, when I was in the Army.

By having a job define them, I'm not implying that it's the only thing that defines them. A Doctor can be a doctor and a parent and a spouse, in fact anyone who loves what they do can have their career or job be an integral part of who they are. I think one major test of your feelings about your job is when you are at a party and folks start talking about work, do you actively participate, or do you just say, "I'm an RV salesman" and leave it at that?

I was talking recently with a good friend from college, Roger, who's at a huge crossroads in his life and career right now, and he has one last opportunity to do something special that he feels he was meant to do. He's lucky in that not only does he truly KNOW what it is but he also has the opportunity to do it. This road definitely defines him, and in taking it, he'll forever be able to say, "I'm Roger C., and I'm a United States Army Special Forces Officer and I served in Iraq, etc, etc (stuff I can't talk about...)". He'd be turning down huge financial opportunities to follow this path, spending time away from his family and friends, and risking his life in the service of others - but it defines him.

Being an RV salesman in no way defines me. With few exceptions, I don't trust the people I work with and for, I'm tired of letting down my customers with inferior products and incomplete service, and most of my attempts to make this work environment better have been thwarted or abandoned at some point by my leaders. Its pretty frustrating at times, yet there are some good things.

Even in a down market (the RV industry as a whole has been "off" 15 - 20% for 2 years now) I can make the money I need to do what I want and pay my bills. The hours are long, but they are easy hours. I have NO responsibilities other than my sales quotas, so my work stress is, compared to my Army days, pretty low. I come home and sleep in my own bed every night, and I am supervised very little - I can sneak out of here pretty much at will. I've been a salesman going on 9 years now in varying industries selling different stuff - so it is what I do. And for you other salesman out there - I'm not knocking the career, just how I, personally relate to it.

Thankfully, Triathlon found me. The physical challenges, the discipline of it, learning about training and physiology, the gear - it all was new yet familiar. Being in the Army and especially Special Forces was very much physical - and I missed that. There's a camaraderie in Triathlon that is similar to the trust formed in the Service that's based in sweat and purpose - and I missed that too. There's honor in Triathlon - it's very much about doing your own work, and it's difficult to corrupt what Triathlon is. It's unique and select - there's a right of passage in Triathlon that few people commit to. I've found something, again, that can help to define me. It gives me a sense of worth - I'm proud of being a Triathlete, and at parties, I can talk for hours about it (to the chagrin of my wife...).

I'm approaching my own crossroads in the realm of Triathlon, the thing that helps define me. Ironman. One word says so much. Commitment. Pain. Suffering. Pride. Honor. Of course I mean the distance, not necessarily the brand. Becoming an Ironman. Joining the exclusive club - club's the wrong word - joining the brotherhood of Ironman finishers. Sharing that moment and moments with the special people who also find meaning in the accomplishment - my wife, my family, my friends, my fellow triathletes.

I'm jealous of my friend Roger and any of you who can find definition, satisfaction and/or meaning in what you do for hours and hours five or six days a week. For now, every stride, every stroke and every cycle gives that feeling to me. Very easily, one or two changes at work could change the way I feel about my job - it's funny how it happens that way - but for now, I'm thankful for the way things are. Hi, nice to meet you, I'm Marc - let me tell you about Triathlon!


Carrie said...

Perhaps your market should be selling to triathletes...Train from the road in your new RV!

Tri-Dummy said...

+1 to Stronger's idea!

I like my job, at the same time, it by no way completes me.

My job, though I enjoy it, provides me only with the money I need to do the things I really LOVE!

Di said...

Bigun said "It gives me a sense of worth - I'm proud of being a Triathlete, and at parties, I can talk for hours about it (to the chagrin of my wife...)."
Honey, you know it's not to my chagrin, I'm proud of you and am usually the first one to bring up your Triathlete status in crowd. I Wuv you baby.

S. Baboo said...

I love my career, wouldn’t want to be doing anything else for the foreseeable future. However, I think we are a lot alike…built physically and psychologically to be fully engaged mind, body and spirit. I need to be doing things that cause me to think, cause me to exert and contain meaning beyond my own needs and desires…Flutterby a.k.a. Wife says I was built to be running across the tundra chasing Mammoth with a big wooden stick.

Triathlon commands my full attention and demands my complete exertion. The mental and physical parts are obvious but the “spirit” part works like this; while triathlon certainly produces satisfying personal achievements I don’t view it as such for the most part…for me the accomplishments I produce in triathlon, or any sport, are my participation in that long like of other human beings who yell into the darkness of space and time “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Hey, this is getting to be a good post…thanks for the prompt.

Duane said...

Great post! I too do not hate my job, it is a good living, but not so exciting. It's the stuff outside the job that defines me, husband, dad, newbie triathlete. The goal-setting, the training, the perservenece, and the people in triathon is what I love!

LoneStarCrank said...

Right on! I am always interested to see what happens when you engage in conversations with other triathletes -- no matter how fast or accomplished they are. Despite the differences in finish times...there is a common bond and respect. That is one of the great immeasurables about this sport, about this culture of people working to "be" every area of their life.

The Stretch Doc said...

Great post Big Gun..

Reminded me of the mission statement from Jerry McGuire..

"Ironman. One word says so much. Commitment. Pain. Suffering. Pride. Honor."

So awesome!!


chuck said...

I have toatlly walked 10 miles in your shoes. I was active duty myself in between the Gulf Wars. One of my latest blogs, I mentioned how difficult it was to stay home and live my life while my bother inlaw was deployed to Iraq. My dad was 5th SF, so I guess you can say it's in the blood. Although I get up every morning and put in my 8 hours, it's really isn't who I am. It does not define me. I am me, my job isn't, I too am a triathlete, a clydesdale.