Is desiring to make a positive difference in the lives of others a natural human instinct? Perhaps some people recognize and act on this urge while others suppress the desire, and still others never fully recognize it tugging at them.
If the instinct is real, there’s at least one way to learn where you reside on the “make a positive difference” spectrum – conduct a self-reflection similar to that done by middle school teacher Ben Lagueux.
After serving for 10 years in the military, including a stint in the first Gulf War and a position training high school graduates to be medics, Lagueux left the service and entered the business world, the systems engineering field to be exact.
There, he became an authority on people, processes, and technology, and he consulted with business leaders to refine their companies and make improvements over time. But still, a sense of personal satisfaction often found in service to others was missing. Lagueux’s next step was to conduct a five-year self-reflection. “What have I helped people accomplish in the last five years? Would I be satisfied if I did that again for the next five years?” he asked himself.
After careful contemplation of the second question yielded a convincing “no,” Lagueux looked around for his next career stop. That brief browse never extended beyond his home. He witnessed in his wife a high level of personal satisfaction as a difference-making third-grade teacher. From there, it didn’t take long to figure out that a middle-level position where he could teach about careers might be a perfect fit. That decision eventually led to a career-focused Pitsco Modules lab for eighth graders at McAuliffe Middle School in the Southwest Independent School District near San Antonio, Texas.
“High school in Texas now has a much stronger emphasis on making early decisions that lead to a cluster of career choices. . . . So, as early as eighth grade, students really do need to have exposure to what a work life might be like or what it would entail in careers they’ve never heard of,” he said.
Being the person who opens students’ eyes to possible careers has been deeply satisfying for Lagueux. Now in his fifth year teaching and making a positive difference in the lives of up to 300 students each year, he has a new response to that second query in his five-year self-reflection.