As I sat at a traffic light in the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, I found myself peering into a gaping hole on the side of a depressingly dilapidated and eerily vacant steel mill. Mentally erasing the vines and moss that were growing in and around the brickscape, I began to visualize what the people who used to work there (or steelers as I decided to classify them in my title, or maybe that was just a shameless plug for the best football team on Earth?,) looked like and wore, how hot it must have been inside on 100 degree days with 80 percent humidity, characteristic of that exact day. I envisioned the blistering steel dripping from metal wands into a giant, bubbling vat of the same consistency. I could hear the sounds of workers yelling over the roaring machines. Steel mills used to define the city; it was the livelihood of thousands. Now they were just a memory, blanketed in soot.
It’s incredible how quickly steel’s consistency can change; it’s equally incredible how quickly a city can change. And then it got me thinking… life is the same way, especially when considering a change in someone’s career path.
Just like steel, in order to really set forth to change your career, whether it be just a facet of it or revolutionizing it completely, you must first delve into yourself and think about what you really love and want to do. Almost think of it as liquefying, just as steel would be, in order to be able to see things more clearly and start from scratch, if necessary.
Then there’s the molding process: getting the steel (or yourself) into the perfect shape. What does that shape look like? A rod? A teacher? A hammer head? A life coach? So to mold steel you need a cast. But to mold a career, you need a plethora of things. Whether it be additional schooling, training, apprenticeships or simply mentors, all of those things can make or break the mold.
And then setting. Without this step, your mold will simply keep changing shape without any real definition or purpose. If you’re a hammer head, be a hammer head. If you’re a beam, be a beam. I’m sure you can already understand how this correlates to your professional life. If there’s something you want to do and you do it well and most importantly it will make you happy, own it. Be 100 percent dedicated to it, knowing it’s what you were put here on this Earth to do.
And if you’re ever driving down the East Coast, or across the country, be sure to stop in Erie, Pennsylvania, where “pop” and the steel legacy will live forever.