First Drop - Career Exploration in the New World
Welcome to Sounding Line Career and Educational Counseling
For centuries, mariners dropped weighted sounding lines, marked at regular intervals, to measure the depths of the water below. Small swiveling cups were attached on the end of the lead line after the plummet to search for rock and shoal. Up on deck, windsocks filled and drooped with the weather. Discovery lies at the core of human existence. How do we awaken from the fog that binds us to see the challenges of our generation? Sounding Line provides an innovative career development framework to reflect on your life's journey and a narrative experiential process to help you discover, uncover and apply what you truly know. It’s getting real foggy out there and the people who find educational opportunity, meaningful employment and successfully change careers are going to need a full dose of conviction.
A New Epoch for Career Exploration
I can’t ask you to make this age of discovery happen without sharing the stories that got Sounding Line to this point. I know long form blogs are not the trend, but I miss writing and am driven to share the questions and choices that drive Sounding Line forward. Old narratives are being broken and new stories are being told. The rate of change in the world is exponential and my guess is it gets weirder. Career counseling for adults and students is a pressing need as institutions stall and waiver and grapple with a new epoch for authenticity and productivity.
The Old Normal
By now, we know that the old normal is not simply coming back. My story for today, like yours, like anyone's, begins with the mechanistic slow down of the Covid era. Two different American presidents executed two similar agendas, each pumping two trillion dollars into the economy. They both wanted out of Afghanistan. After that, it all seems like a big game of Whac-A-Mole. We are a wealthy country which so far seems to prove that we can buy our way out of it and cut and run too. The powers that be can optimize, minimize and maximize with a stroke of the pen. Wall Street hung in there like a champ. If you had money, you did fine. If you got money, you spent it or saved it. But if you listen closely right now, you can hear a slow hiss of air escaping. Money was never going to be enough. The world is going flat again. We are still living in an unprecedented era of change and uncertainty. The economy is not working because people are unhappy. The pandemic has amplified existing inequities and we need new models that can incorporate the experience of the disruption into a better future resisting the temptation to anchor to the past or pretend we are not adrift. Are you asking yourself these questions? Doing the real work? Sounding Line was born to help you take the helm, to help you see the contours of your career and life as a personal journey, and to support you as you and make confident choices.
Play Blessings Forward
Back to my story. My parents retired to Cape Cod shortly after Y2K and 9/11. A lifetime of hard work, good fortune and dedication to church and family. After 10 years of retirement, volunteering at a local food pantry and the human rights commission, and exploring the Cape’s shores, my father passed away unexpectedly in 2013, leaving my mother by herself at the age of 80 when the pandemic hit. It seemed like her generation intuited how to manage a little better than the rest of us. She hunkered down and faired incredibly well, all by herself for long periods of time when our family could not visit. Thanks to amazing neighbors that checked in regularly with hearty, home cooked meals to share, and a little gossip, mom stayed true to form. Amidst the chaos and loss, my sister managed to orchestrate the selling of houses and a new beginning for mother and daughter + husband + their 3 children under a big ole shared roof in our home state of Connecticut (and still manage a ballooning clinical practice). Through it all, I felt a connection to my family that I hadn’t experienced in years. A blessing that I needed to play forward.
See the Horizon
I visited Cape Cod often and helped my mom get ready for the big move; I needed to labor as much as I wanted to help. My brother leaned into his responsibilities to the public sector working through the Covid crisis in the Bronx, NY as an administrator at PS 72 without missing a day. I took the hard work of moving seriously, remembering my days of getting hired off the dock at Amodio Movers in New Britain, CT with pride, earnestly making dump runs and putting Sounding Line on hold. There was a lot I was trying to process. After one of those dump runs or trips to the hardware store, I drove down to the beach. The beer was cold and the sun was warm and I think I even took off my shirt. I thought about my own next big move. Something serious, that I could believe in, something proper. The lobster pot buoys floated on the bay in a glassy sea. From the surface, there was no discernible pattern but the depths of the ocean floor have a different story to tell. Out on the horizon, a sailboat glistened, in and out of view.
That’s not what ships are for
A favorite quote from the past popped into my head. “Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” I often shared this with adventurers in the great outdoors before dining hall meals at the environmental camp where I worked following college. As I looked out at the ocean and gave space to my own personal sea of understanding - being away from shore, not being attached to anything, not having to display the name of some institution across my sweatshirt, water bottle or koozie - I felt liberated. I tossed out my metaphorical lobster pots. Every day I visited the ocean presented me with more possibilities. More lobster pots. But day after day, I pulled in my pots and found no lobsters. I felt stuck again and more propped up than free. And I thought to myself, “what happens when the safe route is the most risky?” I laughed and tried to take that uneasy feeling to the dry dock for repair, taking nautical imagery to a blog post high. What if I moved the right five lobster pots? My luck would surely change. But too much of life’s wisdom appeared to come from a simpler time. All that shines is not gold. I needed a vision of the future that was born from the unrest. I knew that millions of people all across the globe shared my story. For twenty years, I helped colleges, high schools and government sponsored programs attempt to unlock the power of career development and find a new way forward. Sounding Line leverages an insiders view of the system and places the power in the hands of the individual seeking change.
To What Purpose
In the building of this modern liberalized democracy called the United States, the American bloodline divides along the lines of pioneers and settlers. Fortunately for us, we are incredible at both. Lobstermen have cast their pots off the rocks and sand from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia for centuries, and before that you just waded in and grabbed them. The salty types are great at finding a new place to drop their pots, keeping secrets over a shot and a beer and getting up with the sun. The traditional motif can be alluring and romantic. What happens when we have to take a hard look at the societal structures and routines that confound a nation and say to what purpose?
Fractured Landscapes & Self Learning
Over-teaching is kind of like overfishing. It leads everybody to the same chartered waters, the same conclusions. But no matter how calm and safe the vessel appears to be, if everybody walks to the starboard side of the ship, we all get wet. We need to broaden the educational landscape and create room within the process for more authenticity, creativity and personal learning. I fear that the proverbial curriculum will become immune to change and that the over-teaching methodology will get better and safer and, like the price of lobster, more expensive. That scares me more than not having a pension. Sounding Line provides an option for the folks that realize career development is more about finding your own true path than following everyone else.
My first great realization was that I had taught myself something that was both deeply personal and actionable. There are people I need to thank for that, and I will in future blogs, but first I wanted to share this great respect for self learning. I needed to start something that could pay the bills, help people and keep life interesting and maybe even hold up after I was gone. I needed to be a Wayfinder. A self maker even. I had to show my kids where a new tomorrow truly comes from, trust in the faith provided to me by my partner and return the favor. By immersing myself in the unchartered waters of career exploration and career change, Sounding Line became a living and breathing career transition service and a common bond for seekers. I didn’t need lobster pots to mark my surroundings or to generate a yield. I needed something to take with me. Something that would challenge me and help me find clues if I momentarily lost my course. I needed to discover a new path on purpose with inspiration and find out what to take with me and what to leave behind. To set sail on a cloudy day. To discover my own safe harbors. To give up on the amenities arms race. Ration my urgency, press upon what is possible, share the missing link with an educational system stalled upon the precipice of hope… I needed a Sounding Line just like you.