The School Counselor

Mr. Reading opened the door to his office, and the next student, Victor, walked in and slumped into the chair facing the desk. After closing the door, Mr. Reading rounded the desk, took his seat, and greeted Victor. Then he jumped right in. “What are you thinking about doing after high school?”

“I’m going to start a world-famous business,” answered the student. “I’ll get rich, sell my company to the highest bidder, and get even richer. I’ll never have to worry about anything.”

“Financial security is a great goal,” Mr. Reading said. “What are you doing right now that will get you there?”

Victor shrugged. “Just looking for the right idea. The one that will make me a millionaire.”

“Are you planning on going to college while you’re looking for this big idea?”

“Psshh. I don’t need college. That’s for people who have to learn how to be a doctor or a lawyer. I don’t want to be either of those, so no thanks. Not for me. Waste of time.”

Mr. Reading leaned forward and narrowed his eyes slightly. “Do you know how to turn that right idea into money when it comes?”

A blank look was the only response.

“What do you know about starting and running a business? Setting a vision? Leadership, management, hiring and firing? Are you familiar with product lifecycles? What do you know about manufacturing? Creating RFPs and negotiating and awarding contracts? Do you know how to handle revenue and expenses and other aspects of corporate finance? Product advertisement and placement? What about helping people develop in their careers and achieve their goals? Identifying key performance indicators, measuring them, and changing course based on what they tell you?”

He could swear Victor’s expression became even more bewildered. He wanted to take a picture.

“Going to college is a great way to learn a lot about these things. I suggest you make a goal to be accepted at a university where you can major in business and learn what it will take to achieve lifelong financial security.”

Suddenly recovering from his fazed state, Victor shook his head. “I can just look up all that online. You know, watch YouTube videos.”

“Look,” Mr. Reading said with a slow breath to suppress a laugh. “It’s great to have a long-term goal. You need that. But you also need to look at what you need to do now, next year, in the next five years to get there. These things don’t just happen on their own. YouTube videos can be helpful, but they can get you only so far. Figure out what it will really take to get where you want to be and then do those things. Deliberately. You can’t climb a mountain with only the first or the last step. You have to take every step in between. Or you’ll discover years in the future that your life has gone by and you’re still standing at the bottom of the mountain.”

He leaned back, his eyes still fixed on Victor’s. “Take that first step, yes. But commit to taking the second. And the third. And every step after that.”

With a frown, the student nodded, said thanks, and left. He had what could have been a thoughtful expression, but he turned around too fast for Mr. Reading to catch it. Mr. Reading hoped Victor would both take that first step and commit to all the rest. If he did, he could go all the way.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on

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