Today, July 31, 2015, marks the passing of ten years since I voluntarily quit a wonderful career job of 32.5 years in corporate management at Hanes and several operating units of Sara Lee Branded Apparel. I was age 58 in 2005 with no future plan. I told some superiors and colleagues that, “I would start a new life.” I didn’t know what that meant and neither did they. After my last day, Doreen and I sat in our den and discussed the future. She put forth a new suggestion and I acted upon her idea. Now, 750 days of high school substitute teaching throughout ten years have been complete. That’s 42% of the 1800 school days or an average of 2 days per school week. This decade has been wonderful beyond imagination. I have met and become friends with teachers, staff, and some parents of students. The best part has been interacting with thousands of unique teenagers in the classrooms. As a sub, I am with approximately 100 students per day. During ten years, that computes to 75,000 (750 X 100) hits or opportunities to make an impression as an advertiser would say in computer or Internet jargon. The same number of impressions were exerted upon me by the students. Those two way interactions made me a better person and I treasure the experiences. I often hear retirees say, “I’m going to spend time with my children or grandchildren”. I think to myself, I’m spending quality time with many children and numerous grandchildren beyond my own and have gained insight into the potentials and abilities of modern young people. My conclusion is that the majority of today’s teenagers are better people than the majority in the generation when I grew up. That means the future is brighter today than yesterday if power is transferred to younger people. The sooner the power shifts, the better in my opinion.
The workload described above has enabled Doreen and me to travel extensively throughout the United States and in a few other countries. We postponed or deferred no trips and unleashed travel plans that amaze family, friends, and even Doreen and me. We have met total strangers on trips or cruises and engaged in interesting conversations with them and enjoyed the times and places in the moments. We've grown from those encounters with people from other places.
I don’t know what the next ten years will be like, but I’m excited about the future. I will approach it as always by trustingly acting upon what the Lord has planned. He has been planner and enabler and deserves all the honor and glory for the good in my life. As I glance into the rear view mirror of my life, I’m amazed at where I’ve been and the experiences that have happened. But, as a good friend tells me with this metaphor: "Business leadership is like a school bus driver, the leader must keep an eye on the riders (employee concerns) through the rear view mirror, but the road ahead is important too." Life is similar, the road ahead is important and I should not rely too much on my experiences of the past. Have a good day!
Mike Mabe (1947 - )
soldier 3, corporate manager 32, high school substitute teacher 10, executive leadership coach