(This post is part of a pact I made. Click here for the full story.)
Meet JC. Hearing him tell me about his career path left a sizeable smile on my face. It could be because he has such a contagious – and warm laughter. Or because his story is so inspiring – and quite unique. It could also be because he shared with me his story with a sense of honesty and transparency that I had not come across before.
That said, I’ve spent the past few days trying to work out if JC is an adrenaline junky or one of the bravest persons I’ve ever met. Because there’s such a fine line between the two, I’m finding it hard to tell. I’ll let you make up your own mind.
Being that JC`s dad is a successful business man, throughout this interview I kept wondering why JC did not follow in his dad’s foot-steps. After all, JC has the option to join a business which could meet his financial needs several times over. Yet time after time, JC has chosen to go after his passions. “I’m a big believer that you gotta follow your passion…In my little world and experiences, I think that’s where people make a big mistake. They go into things for the wrong reasons…to please others…You have to remember that a lot of people get jealous. They don`t want you to succeed…they try to bring you down…So don`t worry about what others say, don`t let others dictate your life.”
Yet speaking with JC it became clear that none of his career decisions have been driven by rebellion or anger towards his father or family. During our interview, at one point I mentioned that when he laughs he sounds just like his dad. Almost instinctively he said that he was honored by my comment. “My dad is a very special man. I admire him…what he’s done.”
He also told me: “I’m simply not an office person…I don`t have it in me.” This he found out after he set up an online business with his brother. As much as he enjoyed the adrenaline rush that comes from working on a start-up, he did not enjoy working in an office.
Note to self: Unthinkable force is generated when you work in line with your life’s purpose.
Driven by his passion, JC has been on a path that has led him, time after time, to break the mold that he inherited from his dad. Since the age of 16, JC has been a certified pilot. Flying is his first love. As I found out, it’s not his only love.
When I asked him what drove him to pursue such a risky – and expensive – activity he said to me: “It’s hard to describe…it’s in my blood…it’s like a drug. It’s inside of me – a deep passion for flying.”
Note to self: Your own reason for being lies inside of you. Finding it is a matter of learning to listen to it.
After getting his flying license, he became a flight instructor – one of the youngest at the academy. At 20 he was hired by a commercial airline, where he worked for eight years, flying domestic 1 to 2 hour ‘short hops’. He was then hired by another major airline. That job lasted four years until he was laid off following the shake up after 9/11.
He highlighted more than once that: “Flying is one of those jobs that if you don’t have a passion for it, you can’t do it.” As he explained, getting a license is a big time commitment. And the work schedule is quite demanding. It requires that you’re away from family for long periods of time – which means that you’ll end up missing a lot of important occasions.
He also told me that he’s thankful that he was in one of the last groups to get laid-off. However, as he explained, that also meant that most of the good jobs in other airlines were already taken. He made it quite clear that he’s not one to dwell on things. “Those around me tell me that I deal with things differently.” His girlfriend has even mentioned that at times it seems that he has a switch which allows him to move on almost instantly.
That being the case, shortly after getting laid off, he started to seriously consider a job in the police force. To learn more about what’s involved, he went on a few ride-alongs, where he spent the day on the field with real life cops. That is when he felt that he had found his second passion. “I remember the second or third call I went on. It was to handle a domestic violence incident…It’s pretty much the only job where you can right a wrong. That’s a really powerful thing. And it happens almost every day. I’m also an adrenaline junky…(as he says this, I can almost feel his pulse quicken) you go from 0 to 100 and back to 0. I love that. That happens in policing all the time. A million things can happen in a millisecond. That’s how I feel alive!”
Let that echo inside your brain one more time…that’s how I feel alive.
Note to self: What makes you feel alive?
As he told me: “it’s not that I’m heartless (or a career slut) – or that my passion for flying seized to be.” This is quite evident by how he described feeling when he got laid off: “When I got laid-off, that was one of the saddest days of my life. I’d spent 10 years working to the point where I could drive this big piece of equipment…by then I was on cloud million…Loosing my job was like facing a death sentence…I knew it would happen…just not when.” He then told me that he had some time to mourn, but being one not to dwell on things, he said to himself: “it happened…pick up the pieces and lets move on.”
Note to self: What have you been dwelling on? Let go…
His original plan was to work as a cop for four to five years tops – until he got called back by the airline. Five years later when he got called back, he went back to flying for 7 months. Then decided to return to his job in the police-force. And he has been back for over a year. He told me that the catalyst for this decision was the death of his dog Matt. On the day Matt died, he was not in town because he was scheduled to fly. It bothered him that he could not be there for his dog who had been there for him so many times. He also sensed that the industry had changed for the worst. He knew that it was time to let go.
Note to self: Be clear on your values. When things change around you, let your values shine a light on your path.
Aside from passion, JC is driven by a strong pursuit for excellence. More than once he said to me: “I don`t believe in half-assing anything I do. I take things to the limit.” His achievements are proof of this. Aside from making it into the SWAT team, the police force’s most elite team, in 2008 he was named officer of the year.
As determined, strong and intense as JC is he has a very soft center. First, he’s a self-confessed animal lover. Until he met his girlfriend, his two dogs were the love of his life. (I sense that his soon-to-be-born child will also top the list) JC also loves photography. To the point where he now has a business taking fashion and wedding pictures, whenever he’s off-duty.
He said to me that he stumbled upon his photography business by pure chance. “It was a freak accident.” It started when a friend in the police force asked him for help with a modeling portfolio. Being that JC has been taking pictures since he was a kid – mostly of planes – he agreed. And the rest is history.
In spite of JC immersing himself fully to learn about photography, he admits that often times he isn’t 100% certain of how to take certain shots his clients ask for. Yet he still takes those jobs. It’s not that his deceitful. Rather he believes, as he tells new police recruits: “There comes a time when you’re gonna have to grab your balls and just go! You gotta be confident. Even if you don`t (fully) know what’s going on, you gotta pull it through.”
And so he has. Today his client base is growing, even in a slow economy.
Note to self: Go beyond faking it until you make it. Focus on making it.
JC leaves us with his intensity.
“You gotta trust your gut…Always have enough confidence in yourself that you’ll survive and the balls to do it. A lot of people talk a lot…I’ve always tried to be a do-er and not a talker. You gotta try different things, be adventurous…”