You don't build Rome by yourself
Three years ago, I was sweating amidst the crowd of my classmates, all of us clad in our caps and gowns for what would be our biggest milestone yet. We were to become graduates of the class of 2018. It was our time to be thrown into the ocean after swimming in our small pond and see if we had what it took to swim, or maybe sink.
I sat there, puffy-faced and red eyed after a last night out with friends, thinking about what was to come next. I wasn't sure of my major, and I hadn't received a job offer at the time. I had no idea where I was going to go. I wasn't the most attractive new graduate prospect. My GPA wasn't blowing anybody away and my most active club membership was the corner booth at the Townhouse. Inspiration hadn't come easy during school, probably no fault of anyone (or anything) but myself.
But that day, the graduation speaker said something that stuck with me. The real trial started now. It was a clean slate, and my destiny was left to no one except myself. I can't explain why it clicked or where it reached in my hungover brain, but it didn't let go once I heard it. I was aware that part of me existed in a space to that wanted to achieve more and BE more, but it was hard to reach in school. I couldn't tap into it all the time and I was often searching for validation that my chosen path was the right one.
That changed when I got to my first job at BJ Services. I had absolutely zero idea of what the job would entail, but luckily, I was given a shot to make something of myself there. The more I look back, the more I realize that opportunities are given because someone has decided to take a chance on you. All of those that have helped me, never were obligated to put it on the line for me. But they did. Whenever I struggle to really bring it at work or get out of bed, I think of those that took a chance on me and it gets a lot easier.
I was extremely fortunate at BJ to be surrounded by a crew of men who also gave me a chance. It would be easy (and a time-honored oilfield tradition) to give the college boy a hard time. But other than the occasional roast (my ego requires a take down every once in a while) the took me in with open arms and taught me what I needed to know. They never gave a cross look a dumb question and were eager to teach a novice the tips and tricks to be better, if he was willing to listen.
We aren't entitled to help at work, or life for that matter. When we step blindly out into our new surroundings, we are almost forced to trust that those around us to act in good faith and share our passion for a job well done. I found that at BJ down to a man, and I count myself fortunate for the time I got to spend with that crew in northern PA. They generously gave their time and know-how to someone that they didn't know and had no experience. I try to pay it forward when I can teach or share, it is the least I can do.
Unfortunately, there were things at work at BJ that were out of my or the crew's control. Whenever it was time to move on, I was again fortunate enough for someone to stick their neck out for me to have another opportunity somewhere else. The downside to having a life changing favor done on your part is that rarely can you pay it back in kind. For the most part, you will have to trust that your words and actions will be enough of a sign of gratitude to those that act on your behalf. In a perfect world, you could immediately give back. But with the imperfect one we inhabit, we wait in anticipation to return a favor of that magnitude in kind. Maybe that's what distinguishes a truly generous act, is that they know that it's impossible to be returned at the moment, but they do it anyway.
I found another opportunity (as mentioned above, with help) at Profrac. From a phone interview I thought I botched, to now, I've been able to discover what makes me tick here. I've had the fortune of being able to work with another great set of men and teachers who have, without hesitation, been eager to help and guide me as I worked to perfect my craft. It is easiest to be your best whenever you're surrounded with those to have the same drive and desire. They've also challenged me, and together we worked through disagreements and tough decisions.
It speaks to something that I have enjoyed my entire time in the oilfield, at BJ or Profrac. It has been the closest thing to a team sport that I think exists outside of sports itself. The time you spend together, the standard you demand of one another, and the teamwork necessary to make a job happen, all are reminiscent of my time on the soccer team. There is always going to be a high turnover rate on competitive team atmosphere as not everyone is prepared for the sacrifice and energy necessary. I found post-grad that this was what I needed to find that drive I knew was missing in school.
Willpower is a finite resource. We can feed it or we can neglect it. We must be careful of the food we give it. While still valuable, negative energy and thoughts can serve to undermine us in our journey. It can leave us in misery if abused.
After spending my time in collegiate sports as a role player, after graduation I decided that I wasn't going to be that at work. One way or another, I had to find a way to excel so I could be a starter or even a captain where I made my way in life. Of course, it's easy to find motivation in feelings rooted in jealousy of those who are successful in your field, or fear in being mediocre and let go. But unchecked, they can eat us alive.
But when we ground our passion and dreams in the things we do well, in a positive perspective that knows we are going to make mistakes, a weight can be taken off of our shoulders and we an enjoy the journey to where we want to be. Our time is limited, and we have one chance to be the person we dream of becoming. My life changed when I saw the hourglass tipped over at graduation, and the sand grains counted my moments I had left to make a difference.
I've been lucky beyond measure. I treasure those who have taken a chance to help me and guide me after graduation, and a group of friends that ground me as well. They didn't have to, but they did regardless. My advice to recent grads is, as far as I can tell, success is dependent on your actions to show up every day ready to learn. It's dependent on the people you choose to have around you, and your decisions after work as well. It's also dependent on a little bit of luck, but when you try to do everything you can right, I find your chances get a little better.
Rule numbers 1-10. Don't forget to say thank you.