Learning from Significant events in your career and life

I don’t need to remind most of you that today is 9/11/2014.  Just 13 short years ago our country experienced what was a life changing event for almost all of us.  The short term effects were obvious, but I would also lament that many have forgotten what got us to that date and sadly, they have forgotten the significance of this day, especially the cost paid for those who died as well as the loss experienced by their families.

All of us have significant dates in our lives.  We look back and reflect, and I can look back over 55 years now, and there are dates in my life that have special meaning.  At the time some of them were joyous events and remain such.  Others were sad events at the outset, but time has helped me gain perspective on the value of that experience.

My intent today is to reflect on a few key dates in my life and share why they are significant.  In addition, I will share what I have learned and what you too can learn from significant days in your life.

  • August 7, 1977-on this date I physically left the United States Naval Academy and returned to the civilian world.  This culminated my short military career and redirected my college education in a more traditional path.  I earned my college degree in four years at Murray State University and also met my current, and only, wife while there.  I share this date because there was angst on my part when I first left the academy.  I had spent most of two years preceding this time going through multiple processes to gain admission.  I look back and reflect now on this time and realize that I chased a dream that was not what God really wanted me to do.  I am not saying there was anything wrong with that choice, but I do fully believe that He had other plans for me and they took me to that serene place in Western Kentucky where I met my wife, Gena, and gained many friends as a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
  • September 11, 1982-on this date I married Gena Lovett and we set out on the course that has brought me to this point.  Our wedding was a monumental event in my life, one that continues to gain significance with each passing day.  While we have had bumps and hurdles along the way, we continue to plow through this life together and the bond between us only deepens.  How many men can say they have a wife who enjoys collegiate sports as much as they do?  I can!  Even better, we have squeezed most of the Blue Mist out of her as well.  I am a lucky and blessed man!  In addition to gaining a wonderful wife, I also gained a great support system in my in-laws, Lamon and Sue Lovett.  Both of my parents died shortly after our marriage and Gena’s parents have more than filled the void from their loss.  I can honestly say that they are both of my strongest spiritual advocates and continue to do so.  I never pass up an opportunity to tell my mother in law that I love her.
  • March 31 and April 8, 1983-these two dates, in combination, gave me a great opportunity in my life.  At first glance they appear to be sad, but in retrospect, the first allowed me to participate in the second to a degree never imagined.  On March 31 I was part of a reduction in force from my first job.  While some may say that there was tremendous sadness in losing our primary income, there was also great opportunity that arose.  We were planning to venture to the Nashville area from West Tennessee and this RIF allowed that to happen.  This loss of job also allowed me to spend the final week of my father’s life by his side.  My dad, Robert (Dewey) Ryan died on April 8, 1983 and I was there on that final night and morning when he left his world.  Had I not had the fortune/misfortune to lose my job, I would never have been there with him.  Losing a parent is never an easy thing, but spending time with loved ones is time well spent.
  • January 8, 1988-our first son, Daniel Scott Ryan, Jr. was born in Springfield, TN.  Daniel was born on a snow day for my wife (she taught at a local elementary school that day) and I had just gotten to work when Daniel decided this was his day.  Even though he shares this date with Elvis, we never considered that as his given name.  Daniel is engaged and will marry Molly McCullough on June 20, 2015.
  • July 28, 1990-our second son, Matthew Lee Ryan was born in Springfield, TN.  Both Matthew and Daniel tell their friends they were born in jail.  The reality is that they were born in Jesse Holman Jones Hospital and that facility has been repurposed into a correctional facility.  A fun story, nonetheless.  Matthew was born on a hot day and didn’t like to sleep much for his first few years.  Matthew is engaged to Lauren Weathers and they will marry on August 15, 2015.
  • May 10, 1996-I graduated from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University on this date.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but this degree helped change the entire focus of my career.  Up to that point I had worked solely in quality and operations in the manufacturing world.  This M.Ed. degree in human resource development allowed me to shift the focus of my career and things have never been the same.

So there you have it.  This short list is not all encompassing, but it does help you gain a perspective on how I have become the man I am and how I view the value of others in my life.

I am extremely thankful for the wonderful journey that Gena and I have had over the first 32 years and hope for many more.

I hope you too will take the time to reflect and gain perspective from those significant times in your life.  Today is a solemn and reflective date for many Americans, but for me it is also day of great joy.

My best to you on this Patriots Day!