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Hang on "Like Grim Death!"

advice meaningful work power Springboard: Launching your Personal search for SUCCESS success

Listen on ITUNES

Lesson: Find YOUR Fuel!

In what to his parents all all who knew him was a complete reversal from the first thirty years of his life, Kurt Timken decided to become a police officer. He was highly educated, hard-working, fit, capable, and as tenacious as a bulldog. First, he applied to the FBI; they turned him down; next to the LAPD, who turned him down; next to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who rejected him.

Timken was ideal in every way, but he had a single fault; he did not come from the law enforcement world. Policing has a culture of its own. And it’s one that is passed down from father to son, and uncle to cousin. Timken was from the business world, not the police world.

Growing up he had everything. Heir to a fortune 500 company that makes ball bearings used in every vehicle where wheels meet shafts. He attended one of the most exclusive prep schools on the west coast and a top college, before going to Harvard Business school. He was groomed to take the reins of the company his great-great-grandfather had started. But, despite having graduated near the top of his class at Rio Hondo College Police Academy, he could not convince the policing world to accept him. No matter how much he downplayed his background, the police officers were uncertain that he would be willing to leap into action during a gun battle or get involved in stopping a gang war.

Timken would not surrender, however. When interviewed by Po Bronson for the book “What Should I do with my Life?” TImken said that everybody requires fuel for their engine. The money he would make on Wall Street, to him, was like cheap wood that burned too quickly. He knew being a police officer was the only way to find substantial fuel for him. To do meaningful work that he respected.

The obstacles were grueling. He needed another kind of fuel before he could even get the job, that would become his fuel! While being rejected from job after job, the fuel he needed came in the form of an inspirational note. His great-grandfather had written it early on in their company’s history. At the time, the family business was going through a crisis. But his grandfather wrote a note that said: “We’ll hang in there like grim death. We’ve got grit even if we don’t have sense.” Timken felt the same way. He had grit even if it was illogical for someone from his world to become a police officer. He kept the note in his pocket during all the trials of pursuing his dream.

In the end, he would succeed. It took him two years of volunteering with no pay but he became an officer of the law, choosing one of the most gang-filled areas in America: El Monte California. He receives high marks and is a senior detective.

He tells everyone who will listen to find purpose in their lives, no matter how insensible it might seem to the outside world.


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