Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Successes Bring Hope (even in small amounts)

One part of my job as corporate trainer for engineering is to schedule and sometimes teach brown bag training sessions every Wednesday. After subtracting holiday weeks, we have about 45 weeks to fill. In the past project management training took up twenty of those, but we don't have that going on this year. So I have to come up with 45 presentations a year.

So far this year my batting average for having a presentation is not good. After having two good classes the first two Wednesdays, three weeks in a row saw no brown bag (though I'll blame one of those on the ice storm, even though I had nothing ready that week). I have a vendor coming in next week, and things pencilled in for the two weeks after that. But Monday morning came upon me and I had nothing planned. I knew I couldn't go another week without a brown bag, so I bit the bullet and decided to do one on short notice.

Based on recent projects I've reviewed or consulted on, I decided to quickly pull together a presentation on specifying earthwork. Monday I made an outline and had about 15 minutes to make a few notes. I always try to give these sessions a sexy title--oops, the HR babe says I can't use that word--oops, nor am I supposed to call her the HR babe--so I titled it "Down In The Dirt: Specifying Earthwork Based on Method of Payment". I promoted this session on Tuesday.

But Monday and Tuesday gave me no real time to prepare, and Wednesday morning found be grinding away reviewing a project for our Dallas office. So about 10:00 AM this morning was when I began preparing, for a 1:00 PM class. Yet, those three hours did not pass uninterrupted, as the usual phone calls and drop-bys happened. Took my pick-up to the Ford dealership this morning for critical maintenance, and had to deal that in a couple of phone calls. So I had maybe an hour, at most an hour and a half to take my outline and flesh it out into a presentation. The prospects were not good.

We had more people than normal gather in our lunch room, and more offices than normal connect by video conference equipment, with more people than normal sitting in each office. Perhaps the layoffs in January put the fear of job security in everyone, and they decided the ought to attend these training classes while they still have a job.

The class went off without a hitch. I suppose, in discussing construction specifications, I am in my element. The problem turned out not to be a dearth of material, but going faster than I should so as to fit it all in. But fit it in I did. The feedback from the class was positive, as the many questions indicated they were listening and interested. I was glad I did the class, and felt the usual emotional release when it was over. And, I get getting camera time, something I will need when I go on my televised book tour sometime in the future.

In a related success, my truck was finished and the courtesy van picked me up with a minimum of coordination. I'm $360 dollars poorer, but the maintenance is all up to date. Of course, those $1200 dollars of repairs I put off to another time, including a new clutch desperately needed, still hangs out there.

It's amazing what small successes add up to in terms of hope for the future. I leave the office today hopeful about life for the first time in a couple of weeks. Maybe I'll weather this economic depression without losing my job or having my salary cut further. Maybe I'll eventually obtain a book contract. Maybe I'll get my taxes in well before April 15th and get decent refunds for both state and federal.

Hope. It's an amazing thing.


Anonymous said...

I am so happy to see that some of the fog has lifted. You speak about hope. Years ago, if anyone even said the word in my presence I would go nuts! I hated that word with a passion. As I child I was stripped of every imaginable possibility of hoping for anything. Once a dear, dear friend gave me a tape to listen to one night and it was entitled, The Helmet of Hope. I popped that thing out of my player and literately threw it across the room. The next day, wild and crazy with devastation oozing out of every pore of my body, I took it to her and threw it on her coffee table. Needless to say she was so sorry and sat looking at me with a look of compassion and bewilderment that I never forgot. It took me years, and I mean years, to hear that word, believe that word or even say it. My father, whom I have since forgiven, was the author of depleting me from a small child up, of all heart and hope. How? Because of constant failure to reward even the slightest effort I made to please him. Nothing, nothing, was ever good enough. It wasn’t until I realized that he never did intend to do whatever it was he had promised. So all my effort was already for nothing. His words were simply to put me off .

Then, I met the real Father. What you did, whether knowingly or unknowingly, Dave, you moved in a direction of Hope. You exercised what you had at hand and God, the Father always stands ready to reward even the slightest effort we make. It never ceases to amaze me. I give Him so very little and He gives me over a hundredfold in return. It feels at times like He stands looking at me just waiting for the second he can add to whatever I am able to give to Him to work with, even on my worst days. Be it, encouraging someone, a word, or even baking a Brownie Pie for the maintenance man and his children.

In closing, my dear mother, bless her soul, used to say something to me and I know that she didn’t mean it. She used to say all the time, “Susan, don’t get your hopes up.” At the age of 72 when she accepted the Lord, I finally asked her to never say that to me again. She saw that living for the Lord now was the complete opposite; it is all about faith and hope. I knew she didn’t want to see me get hurt when whatever I was looking for didn’t happen. Asking me not to get my hope up was her protection.

Now, believe it or not, one of the greatest things that has come from the ashes of a hopeless childhood is I now say that to everyone in similar circumstances. Hope. For without it there is no life. But it is in whom we place that hope. For God…. For GOD is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, who place their faith and trust in Him and HE will not… WILL NOT disappoint. Besides, Dave, what do we really get out of the alternative? If we turn around today and say all is lost and start walking back… back to what? We know what doing that holds. So why not keep going in the direction of Hope. Who knows, but one day that thing that we both hope for will materialize. I don’t want to miss out on mine. I know you don’t either… keep hoping and keep doing what is at hand. One day that door WILL open when we least expect it. I am certain of it. In the mean time I’d rather have hope for it than what the other way of living brings. Been there, done that, got a CLOSET FULL of T-shirts!

Write ON

David A. Todd said...


In the string of bad news and unhappy circumstances of last week, beginning the day after I made this post, I missed your comment. Thanks for posting, and for opening up a piece of yourself.