Oh F**k

Inspiration, Oh F**k

Oh F**k

Moments with Jeff Seymour

“how fast can you get me out of here?”

Jeff Seymour is currently working for the Securitas company, manning the Lincoln building in Columbus, Ohio. There’s something about Jeff, a unique sincerity and genuine warmth that he exudes. This is what has allowed him to be on a first name basis with every person who walks through the front door of his building, never letting their name leave his lips without a comforting smile or a knowing head nod. When I first asked him to do an interview regarding his success story, he seemed a bit taken aback. He later explained his hesitation, confiding in me that he had never pictured his life story as “successful” and how he’d spent a good portion of the night before our interviewing racking his brain over what he was going to say. Little did he know that his success story was on the tip of his tongue the entire time, waiting for the right moment to be told. This is that moment. 

Oh F**k Moment

“Now, I have a few of those…” Jeff chuckles. 

It was supposed to be his senior year in college. As it happens with the majority of us, it didn’t look so good in regard to graduating on time. Jeff was lost. He explained to me how he’d gone into college ready to set an example, the oldest of his siblings, an heir of responsibility the others couldn’t quite understand. He had gone in with the intent of being an electrical engineer.

“My first trimester I dropped calculus,” Jeff started. Same, Jeff, same. 

“My second trimester I dropped physics,” he continued, shaking his head. 

By the time his junior year rolled around, Jeff was on academic suspension.

Fresh off his academic suspension, Jeff was back in school for what was supposed to be his senior year, well aware that he needed to get everything figured out. He needed to find the major that suited him, fix his grade point average, get a final graduation date set, all amongst the unspoken pressure of maintaining a good image for his family, who he did not want to disappoint. The happiness of others quickly shadows our own. Feeling confused, depressed and anxious (understandably so), Jeff knew he needed to get out of his current situation. 

“We had two landlines in the hallway of our dorm room. I went out in the hallway, sat down, opened the yellow pages up in my lap and grabbed the phone. I dialed the number to the US Airforce. No answer,” Jeff held up a finger, so I knew that wasn’t the end of it. 

“The next number I dialed was to the US Marine Corp,” Jeff said, a little smile on his face. This time, they answered. 

“How fast can you get me out of here?” was the first thing Jeff said to the recruiter on the other end. By that time the next day Jeff was no longer a college student. Rather, he was a new member of the marine corp. 

In his “oh f**k” moment, Jeff admittedly had no idea what he was doing. He knew he wasn’t happy and was willing to try anything in order to change his current situation. Coincidentally (or not so much so), Jeff was one of the top recruits of his class, quickly took on leadership positions in every role he partook as a marine and loved every second of it. 

Come to find out, his grandfather had also served, a fun fact his mother had never shared with him until after Jeff himself had joined. It had been a part of him all along. It seems he was bound to find his place, no matter what detours he took along the way. 

Moment of Success

“It was magical,” was the only way Jeff knew how to describe it. 

Working part time at his kids’ grade school, Jeff also volunteered as an assistant coach on his son’s flag football league. Listening to Jeff describe this rag tag group of six- and seven-year old’s out on the field was comical, as I know it all too well. Whether it was oneself or a younger sibling, we’ve all seen the attention spans of six-year old. Mix that with the undeterred passion to win of a head coach/father and we’re bound to have some fun. 

Jeff described how the team had made it to a pretty big game in their area in California. They all knew they were going in as the underdog team and found out last minute that the head coach and his son weren’t going to make it to the game. 

“So, these kids are on the field, knowing they’re the underdog, a new coach in front of them, no idea what to expect,” Jeff sets the scene. He got into the huddle with these little football stars, hyping each one of them up. Somewhere between the chanting and high-fiving, Jeff was able to pull an energy out of them that they hadn’t seen before. Their underdog team managed to pull off a big win that day and advance to the next game. 

However, this isn’t the moment of success for Jeff’s fleeting moment as head coach. This is where I would like to introduce Flint. Flint was one of the smallest boys on the team, his favorite position being anywhere on the field he was able to sit and pick grass. He’d been such a bother to the regular head coach that he had decided to put Flint right in the middle of the defensive line, alongside the biggest kids on the team. Jeff shook his head disapprovingly at this decision. “You don’t argue with the coach of your son’s team, though,” he said, hands up in resignation. 

In his moment as head coach, Jeff decided to pull Flint aside.

“Look at that guy in front of you,” Jeff said to Flint. “He’s big, round and slow! I know you’re so much faster than he is, so this is what I want you to do. I want you to speed around him as soon as you see the ball move and I want you to take not just one, but both flags off the quarterback,” Jeff directed. Flint looked back at him, blinked, mouth guard swinging from the side of his mouth. He headed back to his position on the field. 

“He sacked the quarterback four times in a row after that!” Jeff said, smile so big and contagious on his face that I could help but be just as proud as he was. He described Flint zipping right around the guy in front of him, sliding in from every direction and ripping the flags off the quarterback while everyone was high fiving and cheering. “It was magical,” Jeff said, wrapping up the famous victory for this little league flag football team.

After this, Flint’s mom approached Jeff. She thanked him for what he’d done, for giving her son a chance that the other coach hadn’t been able to. Knowing Jeff was only working part time at the school, she mentioned a job opening in security for the nuclear plant that her husband currently worked at. This turned out to be a job of Jeff’s dreams. He was still able to describe every detail of the building, painting a picture so vivid that I swore I’d been there before. That is, until I remembered I had never been to California. He could tell me every code he was made to memorize, describe every piece of his uniform, every position he held there.  

All from taking one moment to talk to flint. All from one moment of success.

 Jeff’s moments of success have nothing to do with monetary value. They have nothing to do with power or fame. They have everything to do with passion, pride and true happiness. 

This is the definition of success that we so often overlook, when in fact it is the truest form. Thank you so much Jeff, for your complete honesty and willingness to take the time out of your day to share your truly incredible, and ever so successful, life story with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to have been able to hold this interview with you.  

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Oh F**k

Oh F**k: The Preface

The purpose of this segment is to talk about the word “success”. Not only do I want to talk about how we view it in the workplace and in our personal lives, but I want to change the way we discuss it in general. Success is not and should not be considered a one size fits all category. Speaking from the perspective of a working member of the United States, as well as being born and raised here, we seem to have the idea that if we are not what we culturally view as successful, then we are nothing worth celebrating. 

The reason I wanted to delve into this topic is twofold: 

I don’t know about you, but I’m so sick of people asking the question “what’s next?”. I just spent five years of my life working and going to school, finally graduated, and tied in first place with “Congratulations” is the question “So, now what are you doing?”. If we could change the discussion on progression, work or personal life wise, we could change the way we view our own lives, was well as others. Let me give you an example. Instead of asking the question “So, what’s next?”, I would ask the question of “What have you been working on recently?”. Not only does that question allow the other validation of the things they have accomplished in the past, but it allows them to go into the discussion of what’s to come on their own terms. 

I believe that in phrasing the question in this format, it would also reduce the negative thoughts that come with comparison. When you ask someone what’s next, it’s really all hypothetical. They can tell you just about anything, whether it be that it’s genuinely happening or that they’re just hopeful that it’s going to happen. With this comes the inevitable moment where we hear all about how perfectly this other persons’ life is lined up, followed by a swift kick in the gut of jealousy and anxiety over not being in that same position ourselves. When we ask the question “what have you been working on recently?”, or anything of the sort, we get to hear an explanation about the work they are doing, or have done, in order to get to where they are now, which allows for a much more realistic form of communication and decreases the chance that we can directly compare ourselves to that individual. This leads me to my second point.

Not only would I like to change how we ask about an individual’s success, but also, how we portray that success. Success does not have to mean you’re sitting at the dining room table of your massive estate, surrounded by hundred-dollar bills, maids and chefs at the ready. Although that may be some individual’s definition, some people view success as where you are right now. Whether you’re currently a college graduate, a doctor, a teacher, a janitor, a student, etc., there are people everywhere who would love to be in your exact situation. Let’s stop downplaying certain titles, such as the stigma surrounding only holding a minimum wage job. In order to break the stigma surrounding career choice, I want to talk to individuals of all career types that can be viewed as successful. Not only am I  going to celebrate the victories of how they got to where they are today, but I am going to highlight the moments where they never thought they would get to this very moment. The moments where their idea failed, they lost their job, they were told no, they had an unexpected turn of events, or plain old just had no idea what they were doing or why they were doing it. These are what I like to call the “oh f**k” moments, hence the title of the segment. 

I want everyone to be able to celebrate where they are in life right now, at this very moment. I want us to look back and see the things we have accomplished in the past week/month/year, rather than the things we failed to get done. I want it to be clear that every single one of us struggles in many different ways but still come out successful because we are still here, trying our best to be the person we’ve always dreamt of being. Let’s start looking at the similarities in our stories rather than the differences. 

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