Childhood Dream of Driving Trains
We all remember growing up with our childhood dreams. Maybe it was to be a policeman or fireman or cowboy. For most of us, we let each childhood dream fade away. We went about our lives growing up, getting an education, getting married, having kids, and pursuing a career that put food on the table and paid the mortgage.
The Story of Mike Martin.
Mike was born in the mid-1950s and grew up in New York State. He will tell you he liked anything with wings, wheels, or keels. He was fascinated by anything that moved.
After graduating from high school, he attended SUNY Farmington where he received an Associates Degree in Aerospace Technology. He then moved to Texas and started rebuilding airplane engines. When that company went bankrupt, he ended up working in machine shops. That was okay, but that was not going to get him ahead in his career.
At the time, people told him that he was a really good with people and should go into sales. Mike said okay!
Sound familiar? Mike did not follow his passion. Mike did what many of us do in that position—he did what he was told to do.
He spent the next 20 years as an outside sales guy…driving a truck and selling various maintenance supplies like cables and wiring. He liked being out and about. As years passed, margins on his commissions got leaner and leaner. It became very hard to make money.
Sound familiar? Many of us have seen our chosen profession whither in the new economy.
Now in his early fifties, he returned to college to get a Bachelors Degree in Pilot Science. Over the years, he had achieved his pilot’s certification and loved to fly planes. Remember that, as a kid, he loved anything that had wings, wheels or keels.
After graduating, he worked at an executive airport for awhile but found the work environment less than inviting. So what did he do? He returned to sales!
Sound familiar? When things do not initially work out, many of us revert back to what we know.
He looked at becoming a school teacher. That was a tough transition.
That is when Mike found Career Pivot.
He took the Birkman Assessment and it told him the following:
- His core interest is music. As most of you know, it is tough to make a buck in the music industry.
- He was well-suited to piloting, driving, operating, or navigating transport vehicles or material-moving machinery (e.g., aircraft, automobiles, water vessels, construction cranes, locomotives, tractors)
Sound familiar? It was his childhood dream!
We talked about what motivated him. We talked about what made him happy.
He had to be playing music and he got to do that through his church. He now realized how important it was to him. Now he just needed to get to driving something, being outdoors, and helping people.
Following His Dream
Mike looked at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) but they had no positions.
He then looked at Houston Metro Rail and saw that they were expanding. He applied to be a Light Rail Vehicle Operator.
They replied back and asked him to take an assessment. He passed. He did not think they would want him.
They asked him to come in for an interview. He studied up for the interview by reading an article on how a gentleman had become a driver for the London Underground. He prepared cards with all of the questions he thought they would ask him and studied those cards right before the interview.
It was a panel interview where they asked him to open and close a special driver’s seat. The secret was there was a special pin that had to be removed to get the seat to close. He did it flawlessly. In fact, it was fun. They were watching to see if he would get frustrated.
After the interview, they took him out into the rail yard to see if he could physically do the job; throwing some switches, climbing in and out of the train, and walking the yard.
This is when Mike started to get excited. This was his childhood dream. He was going to get to drive a train.
Several weeks later, he was told to report for a 10-week training program. Mike moved his RV to Houston and started the class. Mike was being careful. He did not want to rent a place if he did not make it through the training.
He made it with flying colors!
Mike drove trains for a few months but was moved to the team testing the new red line. He gets to spot problems and propose solutions.
The money is decent. With overtime, he does okay. More importantly, he loves what he is doing! His family is still in Austin and he goes home on the weekends.
He wants to move up to be a supervisor and a trainer and believes he can work there for as long as he wants.
This was all triggered by a simple assessment pointing him back to his childhood dream.
His childhood dream came true in his 50s.Marc Miller
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