Closing the door on what was the most exciting and most rewarding year of my life. In fact, while the year seemed to pass with greater speed than Felix Baumgartner achieved on his epic skydiving this fall, so much happened that it’s hard to believe! Here are some of the highlights from 2012…..as a reminder to me of the changes, successes, challenges, and help I’ve received from so many people over the past twelve months and as acknowledgement that I could not have had such a year without the guidance, assistance, persuasion, and prodding from so many of you!
January – Non-Corporate Pursuits
Much like a skydiving “hop-n-pop,” in which one leaps from low altitude and must achieve stable free fall before quickly deploying one’s parachute, content no longer to accept the mediocrity of a status quo career and inept leadership, I fully embraced my leap from the safe confines of cubicle city two weeks earlier. No professional risk has been more impactful and provided greater opportunity and reward. The best decision ever!
February – Consulting Partnerships
For several years, I’d been in discussions with a close-by organizational psychology firm about exploring partnership opportunities with them. As the year began, I began shadowing Dr. Daniel Schroeder in his work evaluating and assessing public safety candidates for police and fire departments in Wisconsin. The relationship with him and the fantastic professionals at Organization Development Consultants, Inc. (ODC) has steadily grown into one of personal and professional development and great friendships ever since.
March – Online Learning
As part of an emerging and evolving role with Edgewood College’s Graduate and Professional Studies department, I embarked on the development of a comprehensive, graduate level course to be taught later in the year as a part of the brand-new Masters’ of Science in Organizational Development (MSOD) program. While I’d taken plenty of graduate courses in online environments, I was uncertain how teaching in this modality would prove. I’m happy to say, it’s been one of the most exciting and rewarding (and constantly evolving) experiences in any “classroom.”
April – Parental Challenges
Any parent knows that life sometimes gets rocky. While the year had its usual ups and downs on the parenting front (with two high school cheerleaders, you can imagine!), the hospitalization of one’s child is never an expected nor welcomed challenge. As a single, divorced father of two adolescents, the spring brought with it medical challenges for my youngest. Although quickly resolved, the situation balanced out the positivity of the developing year and put into perspective the importance of a well-rounded support mechanism of friends and family in one’s life. We got through it, with stronger bodies and relationships that we’d had previously, but it certainly wasn’t without its moments. Note to self….It helps to keep one’s sense of humor at times of parenting stress…..
May – Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
From independent consulting projects focused on strengthening local non-profits, the exciting expansion of an online learning platform (StayingGreat) with ODC, and the development of stronger connections with what would become a defining professional experience of the summer, May was all about relationships. From conversations in the Rockies to professional development in the Windy City, this month would prove pivotal in the shaping of the second half of 2012.
June – Arabian Nights
Stemming from a long-standing friendship with a talented local consultant and a developing relationship with her firm, I found myself jetting to the Arabian Peninsula on the personal and professional adventure of a lifetime. From exposure to the arabic culture and an organization with such a rich and interesting history (both within Saudi Arabia and as a leader in the oil industry, in general) to exploring the alley markets of Al Khobar and midnight runs along the beaches of Ras Tanura (Cape Oven), the 120-degree heat and the tasty shwarma, the month-long excursion reinforced the value of partnership, intercultural diversity (and similarities), and the importance of self-reliance in my work and personal pursuits. What an adventure it was…Thanks Mason and Heather!
July – Public Safety and Teaching
My return from the Persian Gulf in July saw an immediate renewal of my public safety consulting with ODC and further competence using more comprehensive individual assessments with diverse client groups. The month also brought with it an evolved role from adjunct to assistant professor at Edgewood College. So began an extremely rewarding string of graduate level teaching opportunities, engaging with some bright, talented, and motivated adult learners.
August – Renewal and Resurgence
August stood out as the best candidate for a “normal” month in 2012. With more psychological assessments on tap and summer term teaching wrapping up, I took the opportunity late in the month for some “me time,” a short solo backpacking trip along Lake Superior to simply breath in all the changes the year had brought and to power up for the upcoming school year and fall of consulting. Little more needs to be said…..after all, we all need some good down time every now and again. Gichigumi was my respite!
September – Down and Out in Madison, Wisconsin
All the best laid plans for a smooth start autumn flew out the window when I landed in the local hospital for a rough two-week (likely) viral stint on the renal ward. Never have I been so happy to be teaching online, as I managed to continue with “work as normal,” instructing my students in the exploration of pedagogy and adult learning in organizations, albeit from a hospital bed and not my home office. Needless to say, the month took its toll, but we emerged fairly unscathed and more eager than ever to move forward!
October – Dissertation Proposal
While it may seem comparably insignificant in the grand scheme of the year, the highlight (without a doubt) of the tenth month of 2012 was gaining long-sought approval for my dissertation proposal. Sidetracked and delayed for nearly a year by both the emotional toll of an unpleasant divorce and by financial priorities stemming from my corporate-to-consulting/teaching career transition, the lengthy approval process had stretched out long enough. Receiving affirmation on my research direction propelled me into the next phase of my dissertation, Institutional Review Board submission…..sigh!
November – Research
As we swung into the final couple chapters of 2012, research, research, research became my life. From teaching a challenging and time-consuming research design course, to conducting hours of data collection for an exciting consulting project with ODC, the month was seemingly passed by with hardly more than a gulp of fresh air! But the twin foci were equally engaging and provided great insights into the strengths of my students and my colleagues on both fronts.
December – Results & Rejuvenation
Ahhh….the holiday season! As the research course concluded, the consulting project interviews wrapped up, and grading and data consolidation began, it simultaneously felt like the holidays would never get there and were approaching too quickly! But all’s well that ends well…all was accomplished and a week’s reenergizing at a lakeside cabin in the woods put the final touches on a most impressive and rewarding professional year!
So, as we turn the page on the New Year, and the gears engage for the rapid acceleration into action once again, I would like to simply thank all those who supported, encouraged, partnered with, and promoted my professional successes in the past year. From the phenomenal staff at ODC to my wonderful colleagues at Edgewood. From the inspired thoughts, interactions, and opportunities with Beacon Associates and RR Consulting Group to all those who made up over 10,500 views to this blog in the past year. And of course, to my daughters and family, who provide the emotional and logistical assistance needed by a single dad (and temporary “exceptional” patient), I offer the biggest thanks of all. I couldn’t have done any of it without your love and support.
I look forward to continuing growing these (and many more) relationships in the upcoming year, and I thank you all for making 2012 the best year ever…..so far!