As a teenager growing up in greater-Cleveland, Ohio, I spent my formative years teaching sailing, coaching swimming, and working at the local pool. Like most of my peers, I went to college to get ‘a good job’. I graduated, found a job, and started down the path towards what I thought would be career success. But I quickly became disenchanted working for a non-profit in Boca Raton, getting paid once a month, and working for peanuts. There were more than few times when I thought to myself – I can go out on the town tonight, or I can buy groceries this week. Hardly the picture of the successful career I had envisioned as a college student.
So I talked to my parents. “What about law school?” they said. I had taken the LSAT, got decent grades. So I called one school while I was home on Spring Break from the private school where I worked. They asked for my academic vitals – LSAT score, GPA, and where I attended college. “We can work with that,” they said. So that Fall, off to law school I went.
I was a good law student. Again – decent grades (top third of my class), lots of extra-curriculars (Moot Court, academic journal), decent internships. I graduated and, again, found a job. I still wasn’t happy, so I bounced around at a couple of law firms, doing what I thought was the right thing – gaining experience, developing my client list, all that good stuff.
Then 2008 hit. I suppose I was lucky in that I was on the leading edge of what turned out to be massive lay-offs and a seismic shift in the practice of law. So I looked around, saw that no one was hiring, and started my own practice. Again – I tried to follow the recipe – network, grow my practice, become a community leader, be the best lawyer and entrepreneur I could be. Unfortunately, I wasn’t making enough money to support myself or my family.
Then one day I was looking to get a beer after work. I walked into a place I had never been in before. Turns out it was under new management and wasn’t yet open for business. “How are you looking for bartenders?” I blurted out. “My man!” came the reply, with the requisite clasping of hands and bro-hug that I have come to love working in the service industry.
That was February, 2013. I have spent the last 3 years essentially un-training myself from what I learned in law school. For awhile, I was happy to not have the stress of dealing with clients, deadlines, and everyone’s crises. I enjoyed going to work, knowing that I would receive a paycheck every two weeks, and leaving knowing that I didn’t need to think about work until I came in the next day.
But the old itch is coming back. I want more out of life. So I started assessing what made me happy. Then, on July 23, 2015, I had an epiphany. I was standing at a park pushing my son in a swing, watching college kids teach swimming lessons and taking in the simple beauty of the clouds moving across the sky, when I realized, “That’s what made me happy.” OK – maybe not swimming lessons per se; but I loved working outside, teaching people a skill. I realized that I wanted to be an outdoor educator.
For the last 9 months I have set out upon my goal of transitioning from being being the bartending lawyer to becoming an aspiring outdoor educator. One of my guiding tenets is that we need to work to conserve our planet. Our current model is not sustainable. I also realized that, as far as we know, this life is the one chance we have. I don’t want to wake up one day when I’m 70 and realize that I’d been toiling away under this misguided Delayed Life Plan that life had passed me by. No. We have one life to live. To borrow from Thoreau, I want to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. I want to do something bigger. I want to live my life with meaning. And the vehicle I am choosing is outdoor education. Being outside fuels my soul. It is both my inner peace and my high-adrenaline passion.
So stay tuned. I’ll go into greater detail about my life experiences, and describe how I want to leverage my legal and business experience to create a new future. My new future. Working outside to help people discover environmentally sustainable ways to improve themselves and their businesses while taking a stab at finding their inner peace.