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Posted on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 : 6:35 a.m.

Mondays Work: What unneccesary obstacles are keeping you from having an adventure?

By Nick Synko

I was part of a small group who got up early to watch the sun come up over the bow of the ship. Bradley, from the ship’s crew, joined us one morning.

I learned he was 24, from South Africa and already an officer on the ship. He shared with me how much he enjoyed working the night shift.

“Watching the sun rise each morning at the end of my shift makes me thankful; I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have a job that gives me the opportunity to experience this life.”

He continued, “It has been a lot of hard work to get this far, lots of hard work; yet things are paying off.” The tone of his voice conveyed how much his heart was in what he did.

When I asked where his career was heading, (career coaches tend to ask those questions), he replied, “I don’t really know. Each day is so great; I am seeing the world, working with and meeting an amazing array of people from all over the world. For now that is enough.”

Then I met a young woman from the Ukraine. Meeting Oksana was of particular interest to me since my grandparents were from the Ukraine. When I mentioned my last name and my Ukrainian heritage, I received another one of those genuine smiles I kept getting from the staff. She told me many surnames in the Ukraine ended in “cho” or “ko.”

As I talked with her, she didn’t know I was thinking of my Grandmother Mary, who began her life here in America working in a large restaurant in Chicago 100 years ago. I always thought about how hard it must have been for grandma to start a new life far away from all that was familiar. Poor Grandma Mary, I used to think, at least until I met Oksana.

Next I met Houston from the British Virgin Islands; he flashed a “hey mannn” smile on another morning letting me know he was having a “great morning” not just a “good morning.” He paused long enough that I asked him, to tell me his favorite bit of wisdom to begin my day.

He replied, “Today may be THE day — be ready!” I’m smiling and laughing as I write this, just as I did then.  Houston also had a life, not just a job. He told me he had a 2-month-old daughter he had not met yet, and a 12-year-old son. I asked if he missed them.

“Of course. Yet this is my life, and it is all-in-all so good for my family.” After 10 years on board he was a manager and obviously happy with how things had turned out for him and his family.

I told him my favorite saying is from Henry Ford. “If a man thinks he can, or if a man thinks he can’t, in either case he is right.” Houston loved it. Of course he would  — he knew how to make a person feel important.

Each of these people, in their own way, had unknowingly “told” me how wrong I had been about my grandmother. Bradley, Oksana, Houston and Grandma Mary I now know, yes, I know, are and were on the adventure of a lifetime. There are jobs, careers, missions and, I guess now to be considered, “adventures.”

These are real people with a berth, not a big house to call home, yet they all had a smile so genuine that it equaled those spectacular sunrises we watched every morning. In the kind and thoughtful moments they shared with me, their adventurous spirit rekindled my grandmother’s DNA which still lives in me —I hope.

Yes, like you, I too have responsibilities, yet I wondered if my responsibilities have become my life — not a part of my life. I am still working on that one.

The career question for this week is, “What really unnecessary ‘things’ have you so intertwined into your life that may be keeping you from the next adventure of your lifetime?”

Bradley, Oksana, Houston are role models. Thanks guys. Thanks grandma.

Life can be an adventure; I agree with Henry Ford, “Whether you think that opportunity will come someday soon or not, in either case you are right.”

When was the last time you watched the sun rise and thought over the horizon?

P.S.: I had to be forced to go on that cruise; I was just too busy with work, too busy paying the bills and too everything to take time off. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife and family who often know what is best for me.

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charles Belenchia

Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 6:27 p.m.

I've known Nick Synko for over 5 years and he is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. I work in the same office building here in Ann Arbor..My responsibility is a "security guard" at this building..In our society ,security guards are viewed as not the CEO type of person,,not the ,,well not exactly the Donald Trumps of this world either.some how,, not the brightest bulbs in the universe but with Mr Synko you would think I was the CEO of GM,,not just me, his interactions are this way with every-one he meets..NO I'm not his father !............................Charles Belenchia