Life Lessons from the Playground:

Look Forward When You’re Walking Forward

When I was about 10 years old, I was riding my bike down our driveway, which was a big hill. I looked back up at the house to yell something at my little brother – and promptly hit a rock, tipped over, and broke the middle finger on my left hand. This was my first life lesson to look forward, not back. I was a competitive baton twirler, and at the time our corp was preparing for the National competition in 6 weeks. So the second part of the lesson was that because I didn’t keep looking ahead, it affected my corp / teammates as well as myself. As it turned out, I still practiced with the group (although my left-hand twirls were very limited!), had my cast removed the day before we left for Nationals, did physical therapy on the bus, and was able to compete with my teammates. So I WAS able to attain my goals, but it took a lot of extra work, pain & suffering on my part – which I would not have had if I’d just kept looking forward.

Fast forward 40-something years. I have had a long career in healthcare administration, in both Dayton, OH and Buffalo, NY. I’ve held senior-level positions at insurance companies, hospitals, and large physician groups. I then moved to Charlotte, NC to help an orthopedic surgeon start-up a new, independent physician office. It was fun to get the business started, setting up processes, procedure, controls, and staff. Two years ago I decided, along with the surgeon, to transition the practice to an office manager. I didn’t worry about myself, because of course I wouldn’t have a problem finding another job – and then COVID hit, and healthcare administrative jobs were not being hired.

What to do? I need to be honest here. I spent time (too much time!) looking back – would have, could have, should have. Woe is me. There were some tears. We all know the script! And it did nothing to move my life ahead. Then an opportunity was presented to me – one I didn’t think I wanted – to sell health insurance. It was my first-ever sales role. While I struggled the first few months with a new career which was “beneath” me (commission-only?!), once I had time to sit back and evaluate I learned 2 things about myself. One is that I LOVE to network and meet people – which is a pleasant necessity in my sales role. The second is that I get personal satisfaction from directly helping people. I learned that the #1 reason for bankruptcy in the US is unprotected medical claims – WOW! I really enjoy instructing people regarding the importance of health insurance and educating them on the options available to them.

There’s a quote I read recently in Jesus Calling (Sarah Young, 2004, pg271). Jesus is talking to me and says “Though I may lead you along paths that feel alien to you, trust that I know what I am doing. If you follow Me wholeheartedly, you will discover facets of yourself that were previously hidden.”  Look ahead. Stay open to new experiences. Trust.

If I was still looking back over my shoulder, at my fabulous previous career, I would’ve missed the opportunity to meet some wonderful people. I have built strong relationships through my networking, and through educating my clients. I am looking forward to building more of friendships, as I now build my own business. If we can keep our eyes looking forward, we can accomplish amazing things.

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