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Work Well at Your Life and Your Life Will Work Well for You
Details matter. If someone gives you an engraved gift that misspells your name, you feel disappointed instead of encouraged even though the person went to a lot of expense and trouble to be nice to you.
A well-applied extra effort can make a difference. Jerry Rice, the NFL player who many people consider the greatest wide receiver of all time, had only average running speed for his position. Because he couldn’t count on getting past defenders, he spent more time than anyone building stamina and rehearsing passing routes. Before he finished a football game, defenders fell further and further behind Rice due to his excellent conditioning and precise routing. Today, Rice holds the all-time NFL record for touchdowns, a record not expected to be broken anytime soon.
Winners finish strong. In any activity, those who win most often show the ability to overcome previous mistakes and do their best just before time runs out, coming from behind if necessary to achieve a victory.
I was reminded of such timeless lessons while reviewing the career of Dr. Kenneth Levy, who earned a Ph.D. degree from Rushmore University. His many successes came despite obstacles that would have discouraged many people from continuing to do their best.
From an early age, he loved the idea of working with large animals and wanted to be a veterinarian. Although two medical schools admitted it, no veterinary school did.
Hoping to get sponsors for his application to veterinary school, Dr. Levy spent three years on a Ph.D. pathology program. This time, his application was provisionally accepted, subject to a large donation to the school’s “construction fund” (which later events proved to be a way for the school to pay bribes to an influential legislator).
Unable to make the “donation”, he dropped out of the Ph.D. program and returned to the business lab where he had worked before starting graduate school, this time taking a job that normally required a Ph.D.
Despite the setback in his life’s ambition to become a veterinary surgeon, new doors opened and Dr. Levy was soon working for a company that provided radioactive materials for clinical, research and industrial use, where he participated in a program of management training. To make career progress faster, he also earned an MBA degree part-time.
Despite high performance in his managerial role, when the parent organization faltered, he received an unexpected “golden parachute” that allowed him to stop, take stock, and consider what he wanted to do next. While many people would have gone back quickly looking for a new full-time position, he realized this was an opportunity to get closer to his love of large animals, especially horses.
While taking six months off work, Dr. Levy gained world-class training in dressage, a sophisticated form of competitive horsemanship, gaining insights useful in competing and preparing horses and riders for success in the sport. Today, he continues to compete, fills many roles in the sport and operates a farm with his wife to train riders.
Blessed by these opportunities to indulge in his passion, he also benefited from gaining a position with a renowned company that provides laboratory diagnostics for physicians. After assuming many different roles over the years in that organization, he unexpectedly found himself heading the company’s Scientific and Medical Affairs department.
While many people without a Ph.D. would have been overwhelmed or at least intimidated by leading a talented team of physicians, doctors, and nurses, Dr. Levy saw the new role as an ideal incentive to complete a Ph.D. training that he had begun so many years before. Looking for opportunities to work on his thesis without having to repeat courses and cover topics he already knew well, he decided to pursue an online degree.
Paying the same kind of careful attention he did professionally to ensure patient safety and personally to gaining success in dressage, his research and writing went well and were soon completed, bringing much pleasure to himself and his family. This is how he described the results:
“My Ph.D. degree has created increased recognition from my CEO and SVP management team.”
“My two daughters have expressed great respect for my achievement. Also, we have a niece who lives with us and when she saw my dissertation and diploma, she said, ‘I could do this and work.'”
What advice does Dr. Levy have for you about learning and earning an advanced degree on the job?
“Plan and take time every day to work on your assignments. It’s easy to let things slip away. There’s nothing better than finishing a course and receiving your grade. Each course completed is one step closer to your title.”
As I reviewed Dr. Levy’s experiences, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people come very close to achieving some long-dreamed goal simply by working well at what they want.
What are you waiting for?
Find out how you can prepare yourself to enjoy what you do, whether it’s as a career, hobbyist or part-time. I look forward to applauding the way your life will work out for you as a result of your good work in your life.
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