Each year, at the beginning of the year, many people select one word that will guide them throughout the next twelve months. This word will serve as their inspiration and motivation and will become a bit of a mantra for them.
I can’t say that in January 2020 I had a word. But as March approached, as we slid into the spring months, carried on through the summer months, and fell into fall – it was apparent to me that there was one word that had been with me all along: Resilience.
Resilience became my anthem in 2020. It popped up repeatedly – through my morning Kindle readings and in the numerous podcasts I listened to, and it was also this year that I realized, resilience isn’t something I’m all that new to.
During my years at university, I had no idea what I wanted to do once I completed my studies. I knew I had an interest in technology, and that it wasn’t just a hobby – but, for me, it was really a way of life. Building computers, playing with broken iPhones, and automating a Raspberry Pi were some of the things I did as an adolescent to keep myself entertained – most of my friends still think the Raspberry Pi is a dessert. Ha!
When it came time to declare my major at the UW-Milwaukee business school, however, it was simple – I selected IT-Management because it was the only business major offered with a technology component. Still, I had no clue how it was possible to turn my passion for technology into a lifelong career. I was also never a ‘coding guru’ or an expert on any one technology, and so I convinced myself I was at a disadvantage to others who had an area of specialization.
Cisco proved me wrong on that front though! They embraced my skillset and truly saw something in me, even when I felt I did not have a lot to offer. This was a major step in my journey of understanding resilience.
From there, I landed the best job in the world here at Cisco as part of the award-winning Cisco Sales Associate Program (CSAP) – I still wonder sometimes how this all happened.
When I began my journey at Cisco in the Summer of 2019, I had already heard the members of CSAP dubbed as “the best of the best” and “the one percent” during my interview and on-boarding process. I do not feel worthy of these titles, but I know imposter syndrome will always do this to us. This is an inherent emotion from all opportunities earned. So, as I always do, I decided to combat this emotion with thoughtful planning, determination, and an unparalleled work ethic. I’d now argue, those are all ‘resilience’ in motion.
Then 2020 hit and pushed me back into my childhood home, I quickly spiraled into worry and restlessness due to the uncertainty in the world. It took some time to adjust and process the global events, but when I finally convinced myself to get out of my own way, I became empowered. I immediately realized how fortunate I was, and there it was – waiting for me – my ‘One Word’ of the year: resilience.
My father (also an IT professional) purchased a 3D printer to experiment with during these months spent primarily at home. At the same time, I learned of a nonprofit volunteer resource that needed face masks for kids and adult volunteers within the community. With that knowledge in hand, I decided to control what I could, and help those in need within my community.
Using the 3D printer connected to a – you guessed it! – Raspberry Pi, I was able to automate the printing of face masks. Another benefit of this time was that it created the perfect platform for me to “nerd out” while giving back.
This year has not been easy for any of us, but my hope is that you will have a moment, now at the end of 2020, to reflect and take away an experience or new skill that can contribute to your overall growth, education or perhaps even your personal brand.
In continuing to add tools to your belt with every challenge you encounter, despite how big or small the project is, you will be surprised (like I was) at how resilient you are.
This skill doesn’t happen overnight, and it is one I am still developing, but I am so excited to know that I am starting my career with a company that aligns to my values, is there when people need us, and is resilient even during difficult times. It was this reason alone that Cisco was a top choice for me – but I’m glad to see that it is just the beginning of how we align with one another.
Now, I suppose it’s time to think of what that ‘One Word’ will be for 2021.
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This is an amazing article! You are absolutely right about resilience being the One Word for 2020. As human beings, we are extremely adaptable. Even in the face of adversity, we manage to find a way out – one way or another. Although the pandemic threw us a curveball, we still persevered as a society and did what we had to do to survive. We did lose many comrades along the way to the pandemic. Yet as a human race we continue to march on with resilience.
Well written review of 2020. Yes, we are all resilient and this year everyone was tested to their limits. It’s great to see that you have adapted to all of your challenges for 2020 and I wish you well in 2021!
excellent word, Nathan! RESILIENCE indeed! not just for 2020 but always!
I love your story- so inspiring. Thank you for sharing!
Awesome! [Love your Dad btw!]
What an inspiration! Thank you for taking the time to share your story! 🙂
Great perspective and nice job stepping out of your comfort zone to enrich yourself and those around you. Cisco is not a company, Cisco is a group of inspired individuals making small impacts on our customers and communities that all add up to changing the way we work, live, learn and play:)
Hi Nathan, so happy for you! Keep us posted on all of your happenings. You are such a smart person! Resilience is the word! Positive attitude will take you far. Remember the days at OHS and Spanish? Take care! Sra A 🙂
Hi Nathan – very cool that you landed at Cisco! Did you know that John Morgridge (former Cisco CEO) visited our pre-calculus class at OHS? I remember you showing me your Apple Watch back in the day, and I knew you’d end up doing something techy. Congratulations on your recent graduation, and good luck in your new career! If you’d ever like to share what you do with a bunch of 17 year olds, let me know….
Truly inspiring article Nathan! Welcome to the Cisco family!
Thank you for sharing your story. Very positive and motivating!
Your perspective and positive attitude is refreshing, and Cisco is lucky to have you.
You continue to inspire Nathan! Way to go man!
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