When I was four years old, I wanted to become my father’s secretary. He had often complained and so, with the healthy arrogance of a toddler I wanted to take care of him. When I was seven years old, my mother was dying of cancer. I innately comprehended that I could not help her right there and then. At the same time it was also abundantly clear to me that this should not happen to other children or mothers. I decided to become a surgeon and take care of it.
Then life happened and all my professional plans changed. I have had many professions, spanning from secretary to university professor. With my doctorate I was teaching business administration and economics to MBAs and in that capacity, I became aware that occasionally my students’ ability to perform at their best was less a function of their IQ or commitment and more one of their mental and emotional state. I started offering advice and my students appreciated it. Overall, it was highly satisfying to work with students, to encourage their curiosity, to provide access to new ideas and to watch them grow as academics and persons. But what gave me the biggest impetus to change my professional aspiration was when I noticed that not only did my students’ academic performance increase, they were also smiling, joking, and displaying increased enjoyment in their studies. Which of course showed in the quality of their work. I loved teaching. And maybe, some day, I will teach again.
None of my professional changes were due to traumatic force though many were due to forces outside my control. Yet, I always found purpose in my work, which resulted in increased competence and added enjoyment. I used to wonder about that. I now recognize that I had always been on the path to become a counselor. Whether working as a secretary, as an imaginative surgeon, or as an actual professor, my desire was to bring relief from pressure, chaos and pain, share and deliver comprehension of theories and realities, whilst always resulting in a joyful and restful calmness in the people I worked with.
I like a good challenge. Always have. I like seeing people getting support, growing and benefit from it. Always have. And, I love it when I have something to do with that. Always have.
And that is why I counsel.