Ironic sometimes how timing is everything. The same weekend we have an old friend in town is the same weekend Michael Vick makes the news…again. Certainly there is no real link between the two. However, after a weekend spent chatting with a seasoned educator and administrator who happens to also be a Doctor of Education (an Ed.D not a Ph.D as he likes to say), I was reminded how environment has enormous impact on situations and outcomes. Education, learning, business, life – one’s environment does matters. It is not the only thing, but it is something.
To even the casual observer, the story of Michael Vick is just another example of the rapid rise and dramatic fall of yet another professional athlete. Sordid details of dog fighting rings, hangers-on, and other colorful gems litter the biography of the man. I will admit a particular interest in the story – I lived in Virgina in the early to mid 90’s and remember the stories of two gifted high school athletes. Michael Vick the football player and the Allen Iverson the basketball player. Both were from Newport News – a pit of crime, poverty and violence. It was the beginnings of their rags to riches story. Stories I just happened to follow a little more than most over the years.
So this week brings us another story of Michael Vick, this one involving a shooting at his birthday party. As of now he is not officially accused of, nor linked to the crime, but there is no question that it was at his party and that the victim was an acquaintance and part of his dog fighting ring. What struck me is not that the events happened, but rather where and who was involved. Michael Vick finds himself right back in the same old situation – the same area, the same friends, and inevitably the same problems. In spite of everything that has happened in his life, all the chances he has been given, all the opportunities he has been afforded, he has yet to change his environment.
Unfortunately we hear it all to often in business; folks are unhappy or frustrated with their careers, their professions, their path or just general situation. They are not feeling challenged, fairly compensated, or just are not passionate about their work. However, when they elect to or are forced to make a change, they tend to go to the competition, or at least stay in the same field. More often than not, they find themselves right back in the same old situation. For many people it becomes an unending cycle of searching for and changing jobs every few years, yet they never really change their environment. Sure, they change the company name on their business card, but their environment remains the same. Change the environment, and there is a good chance you will change your circumstances.
Yes, there is friction in any change. Changing fields or careers, locations or areas is never easy. There is emotional, professional and real capital involved – it will often cost – sometimes a lot. It is not easy, but there just might come a time when you have to break free of the old ways; to start fresh. Change the environment and you will change the situation. However, remain in the same environment, the same things just seem to keep on happening. There is something to be learned from Michael Vick, or a buddy who happens to be a Doctor of Education. Whichever one you feel is more credible is your call.