Finding positives within the negatives of War, Part 2

Guest post by AW Schade, USMC, Vietnam 1966/67

Throughout my thirty-five years in business, I never learned to accept other’s euphoria when achieving business objectives. However, I was a Marine and team player and through hard work and personal commitments, I continuously helped peers, executives, and of course, myself, achieve our business goals. Even when I became an executive, I never sensed the adrenaline rush of winning, as I did in combat.

In any case, after eleven plus jobs I wound up working for a bank repossessing cars, but within four years worked my way up to branch manager-without a college degree, which was just becoming mandatory to being hired into a decent corporate position. After six months as branch manager I was bored and under paid; banks are great with titles, but at the time not competitive with salaries. I was ready to do something else when I received an offer from a very large computer company to join their company as a collection administrator.

It seemed I was taking a step backwards to where I started at the bank. However, it was their answer to one question; “If I work my ass off is there an opportunity to advance?” The answer was “yes”, and I never regretted my decision. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work and a lot of personal sacrifice for me and my family, but going from ten thousand, to over two hundred thousand dollars a year in income over my career, confirmed the decision I made thirty years before was correct.

I realized that was the first time I thought of something I did as significant. It was rather good. I felt the group sensed a change in my demeanor, but I thought some of them had to be thinking, ‘two hundred thousand dollars, how the hell does this guy think he never achieved anything?’ I understood why some of them would feel that way, because after thirty-five years they had nothing.

However, what I did not tell them was that depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide continuously hounded me. Yes, the money was good, but I was constantly searching for the ultimate ‘adrenalin rush’ and crucial decision-making situations, I experienced in combat. Regardless of what I achieved, nothing brought me close to those feelings. Over time, this created emptiness in my soul, which permitted the demons to maneuver through my mind, at will.

I decided not to belabor them with these details, so I summed up my story by sharing  highlights of what I remembered-which surprisingly was more than I thought.

Yes, it seemed I went backwards by switching jobs, picking up where I began my story, but I made slightly more money. More important, I was engaged in a fresh challenge. Even though I began in collections, within a year I was promoted to management in one of our largest branch offices. By the end of the following year, the branch went from the worst operations’ office to number one. For that, I jumped a few levels of management to the Branch Administration Manager. It felt very good, but I attributed it to working hard, good staff, and leadership-which was my primary strength. Unfortunately, I experienced no sense of jubilation.

After attaining many personal and management awards, I was selected, along with a small group of others, to attend Syracuse Universityto attain a BS degree in Management-paid for by the company. I was very pleased with the opportunity, and for the first time I felt a sense of pride when I graduated. It was a grueling task, but the results were well worth it. We even had some fun when taught by a few professors who avoided theVietnamdraft, and taught their liberal ideals until they realized they were not influencing eighteen-year old students. They had ‘book knowledge’, while we had actual experience. It always felt good to challenge the few who thought they knew it all.

During this period, we had three great sons who needed both a mother and father around. As coach for each son’s team, little league president, husband, and juggling work, school and family was frequently chaos. I did my best but never considered it an accomplishment; instead, it was my responsibility as a man, father and husband.

See here to read Part 1. Next week, Part 3…

AW Schade is a Marine, Vietnam Veteran, Bank Manager, and over 30 successful years in corporate executive marketing, business development, and sales. An author; married and father of three young men, Schade graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Business Management.

The ideas contained in this post solely represent the perspective of the author. To contribute to ‘Survivors Speak’ contact Michele.


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