The older you get, the more resilience you need. Life for most of us has ups and downs, great moments and serious challenges.
Life will put you flat on your back when you least expect it. Sometimes it is hard to get up unless you draw on your inner reserves and confront your challenges. Often it is really hard and you need the support of the people around you. Then there are times that you have to stand alone and face what fate has dealt you.
A lot of what I learned about life came from the ten years we spent farming in the small village of Tay Creek, New Brunswick. Keeping our farm, Tay Ridge Angus, running was more than a full-time job. There were plenty of times that I took two steps forward only to realize that somehow I had gone backwards three steps.
When you are twenty miles from a real town in a place with weather that can cook you in the summer and seriously freeze you in the winter, you mostly have to depend on your own skills and the help of your neighbors. You learn to fix or build just about anything with whatever you can find at hand. Quitting or not finishing the job is not an option.
Surprisingly a lot of what I learned on the farm served me well in my technology careers. Certainly at Apple, there was no one waiting around the corner to offer a helping hand. Often if you wanted something done, you had to do it yourself or convince other very busy people to help you. Doing a job well when no one is watching or will find out becomes the way you live.
One of the things I have learned is that strength often means learning to keep your mouth shut when it would be very easy to point out the error of someone's ways. If you survive through enough jobs, you will run into people who seem to spend a lot of time trying to shift the blame for their inaction or inability to perform a task to you.
It takes a good deal of finesse and inner courage to not let them get the best of you. I have always found focusing on the task and not the person is a good way to solve a lot of problems.
Try to understand what you are trying to accomplish and do what is needed to keep moving forward without irritating people who are in a position to help or harm you. Sometimes people will figure out that your determination to be successful has the power to sweep others along with you. Most often they will figure out that joining in your success is easier than standing in the way.
However, modern work places are not simple places where doing the right thing for the company or the customer is always looked upon favorably.
There may well be a day when you have to take a stand and let things take their natural course. Sometimes it is unavoidable. No company or product is worth compromising your ethics. More often than you might guess, a job is not worth the emotional damage that it can do to you. In the end sometimes the best solution and the one which lets you sleep at night is moving on to another job.
I actually like to work and feel fortunate to have another great boss at this stage in my life. After a handful of really bad micro-managers, it is particularly nice to be working at something I enjoy for someone I respect and who appreciates my efforts and skills. A good boss can be a great filter for the bad stuff that can happen to you. Unfortunately bad bosses are often unavoidable and good ones are hard to find especially when you need one.
Still there are times when other pieces of my career drive me to distraction and I need to get away from it all. Out on the oyster rocks of the White Oak River seems to be a place that has the power to restore me. Certainly the view from my kayak is a lot different than when driving over the river on one of the bridges. It is nice that one of my special places only takes ten minutes of paddling to reach. I wish that spot in the river had been nearby during my last few months at Apple, but there were some other stops on our journey before we could find peace along the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina.