- Apr 03
What a San Diego Doctor Says About Professional Development
If life had gone according to plan, we’d all be in San Diego right now getting really smart at the Innovations in Testing 2020 conference.
But life changed dramatically in the past month or so. The need for social distancing resulted in the widespread cancellation of conferences, sporting events, education, entertainment, travel and more.
There’s another live event to add to the cancellation list. Graduations. There won’t be any this spring, at least in a physical setting.
A famous resident of San Diego, an author and illustrator, would’ve been particularly saddened by that.
One of his books is the most frequently quoted text at commencement ceremonies whether those newly minted graduates are setting out from kindergarten, high school or college.
Amazon reports the book to be one of the top-five most-popular graduation gifts every year.
The book? Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss.
Dr. Seuss was the pen name of Theodor Geisel, illustrator, filmmaker, cartoonist and author. Seuss was his mother’s maiden name. He added the “Dr.” to console his father who had always hoped his son would one day earn a Ph.D.
In 1948, after the success of his sixth children’s book, Geisel and his wife Helen moved to La Jolla (pronounced "la HOY ya"), a community just inside San Diego's northern city limit.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was published in 1990, a year before Geisel’s death at age 87. The book’s message is that happiness and success are earned by moving ever forward through life’s ups and downs.
Congratulations! Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
Geisel dedicated the book to his classmates at Dartmouth College, all the young dons of the Great War era who greeted each other with “Oh, the places you’ll go!” and responded with “Oh, the people you’ll meet!”
After graduating from Dartmouth, Geisel set off for Oxford to pursue a Ph.D. in English literature. He quit at the end of his first year after an instructor looked over his shoulder and commented on the imaginative, whimsical sketches in the margins of his notebook.
She told him the world didn’t need another English teacher. The world needed people burning with talent.
Man on fire
Geisel returned to New York and landed his first job as an illustrator, which later led to new ventures as a political cartoonist, copywriter, scriptwriter, film maker and, of course, children’s author.
The worldwide sales of his 45 children’s books, which were translated into 19 languages and sold in 95 countries, exceeded 200 million copies during his lifetime. He also won three Academy Awards, three Emmies, a Pulitzer prize, honorary degrees, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and countless other awards from teachers’ associations, publishers and librarians.
When asked in an interview for the secret to achieving happiness and success in life, Geisel’s response was simply, “Get good at something.”
You won’t lag behind because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang, and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
But, sadly, it’s true
Can happen to you.
The protagonist of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is a boy who, despite bang-ups and hang-ups, keeps trudging life’s path. Along the way, he encounters The Waiting Place, a limbo for people whose lives are permanently on hold while waiting for a better break or a kinder fate.
Geisel lived through the heady days of the Roaring Twenties, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Great Depression and World War II. He almost froze to death at the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
Like many members of his generation, he knew adversity but evolved in his craft just the same, whether the skill to be mastered was illustration, writing, sculpture, animation or film-making. If he was burning with talent, it’s because he just kept stoking its flames.
Don't follow your talents. Chase them.
Talent gets noticed, but only after it’s been nurtured—and only then may be rewarded with recognition, career advancement or money or some combination of the three. In business and professional organizations, certification is a common vehicle for professional development—giving evidence of new knowledge, skills and competencies.
Certification communicates commitment, determination and grit—all the unsung but praiseworthy qualities that propel people through life’s ups and downs on their way to getting good at something and reaching a higher potential.
And will you succeed?
Yes, you will. Yes indeed!
98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
Or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
You’re off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting
So…get on your way!
Same time next year
Sorry, we weren't able to connect with those of you who also planned to attend this year's conference. We hope that you're off to great places in 2020. Move some mountains! We look forward to seeing you at next year's Innovations in Testing conference!
Take care till then.
P.S. If you're currently managing a certification program, you're more than aware that many testing centers in the U.S. and around the world have temporarily closed.
If you're looking for another test-delivery option while waiting for test centers to open again, you can read about Kryterion's online-proctored testing solution here.