What’s Your -Er…?

(Tami Nutall Jefferson, a married mother and grandmother, is going back to school and she has invited us all along to enjoy the ride.  For more posts in this series, click here: Tami’s Big Do Over.  –  ALW)

By Tami Nutall Jefferson

Everyone has one – the famous, the infamous, the invisible ones. I struggled with my -Er all last year. I committed myself to many things that ended up falling through my over-committed cracks. Things that sounded good, fun, or offered certain opportunities, but weren’t true to my -Er; even though I hadn’t defined that yet. And then, on Black Friday, the Universe turned off the little switch that makes my motor run non-stop. The depression was as overwhelming as the desire to do nothing. But I didn’t have that luxury because I started working in the most soul-sucking job ever on Cyber Monday. Going to that desolate place every day birthed an intense desire and drive within me to truly discover my -Er, because that was not it.

Really Tami?

What truly is my -Er? What am I going to school for? What am I volunteering for? What am I doing any of this for? But my biggest question after completing my first semester was “now that I’ve attained the ONE thing that I’ve always (getting into Texas A&M) and I’ve done the ONE job I’ve always wanted to do (designing buildings), what if my -Er is starting to change? You know, that feeling you have inside when you feel like “maybe I want something different now” but you can’t really quantify it and you feel like a total nimrod at the thought of changing it. And that other shoulder-sitter is saying “Really? Now?? You want to change NOW?” That was me.

And So The Journey Begins

One thing the Holy Spirit had been softly saying to me is that everybody has an -Er and I needed to find mine. So, I set out on my journey to find my -Er. I began to look around and see what that looked like in other people’s lives. I came across an article in Fast Company and noticed an -Er pattern. While I’m going to college to do an -Er job, I noticed the -Ers of highly successful people seem to stem from their core missions, not their job titles or functions. Cases in point:

  • Denise Morrison – CEO of Campbell’s Soup / Lead-er
  • Joel Manby – CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment / Lov-er
  • Oprah – CEO of OWN / Teach-er
  • Richard Branson – Founder of The Virgin Group / Encourag-er
  • Amanda Steinberg – Founder of DailyWorth.com / Cultivat-or

Most of us know some of these people and what their -Er jobs are, but their  true -Ers are actually the baseline for their careers, lifestyles, their hobbies, activism…their everything – it’s the string that connects all the dots. Looking closer at Oprah, she states that “she wanted to be a teacher, but…never imagined it would be on TV.” Whether, it’s her talk shows, her school for girls, her magazine – the one foundational principle of Oprah, is that she’s teaching (or making it possible for others to teach) something to her audience.

Richard Branson is my role model. If you follow his blog or social media or press, you notice that he’s famous for two things – fun and encouragement. He’s mixed the two to create an empire of over 150 companies. Dig deeper and you find out that those companies are not companies he’s started or led, but they’re companies created with ‘normal’ entrepreneurs who he believes in and encourages to pursue their dreams as part of the Virgin network with Virgin cash, while business is always focused on happiness and people.

For the people on my list, their -Ers are actually their vehicles for fulfilling their purposes and missions. When you know your purpose and mission in life – or even for that year – you’re able to better and quickly define what your -Ers are, and what you say yes and no to.

Those Little Voices

For the last 6 months, in the back of my mind I’ve heard Katt Williams’ voice screaming “you got to be in tune with your star player.” I decided to make this my personal and professional mission for 2018 – to get in tune with my star player. But, again, that brings me back to my life’s mission. If your star player is the person that makes that life mission happen, then they need to know what the mission is.

And that brings me to the words of one of my favorite teachers, Dr. Myles Munroe and his “Recognize Your Vision & Dream” lesson (available on YouTube). After much listening, deliberation, self-assessment, lifestyle design, I finally settled on a mission that I believe will carry me through life, help me fulfill my purpose, and frame my -Ers for decades to come. It simply is “To be a person of value, wealth, and influence, so I can create the things that people need, want, and love” Sprinkle that with my Psalm 37:4 heart-desires (real estate and fun), and it circles right back to where I am in this season in my life. So, although, my -Ers may change in the near future, I can happily rest in that they will all fit in the grand scheme of things. And that my current -Er of “older undergrad student” is but for a moment.

The Price of College

I chose a major with an emphasis in Urban Planning – but I know that I do not want to work with the City for life in the planning department. My dream is to be a modern space builder & developer in Waco (no small feat). This semester I have three classes – two in urban planning and one in modern architecture. So, when my professors asked last week what I hope to get out of class, my honest answer was to learn from the basics of each subject and how I fit in the industry as a developer – considering my minors are tourism and event planning.

On day 1, in one of my urban planning classes, I watched the 17 minute ‘What is a City’ lecture video where my professor explained the connection between physical and social landscapes of cities. I had to immediately email him and tell him about my “fit” struggle, but how he in a matter of 10 minutes, managed to bring it all together and connect the dots for me and prove to me that I don’t have business-ADD — all in the first lecture. For the first time in life, I could clearly see the connection between the physical spaces and the social interactions that I long to create for people and how they connect in the real world – not just my mind. And now, I know that it does make sense, and it is possible. I can be a real estate developer, fun-maker, and place-maker all in one day!

I learned that day that the price of college is not how much you pay for it, but rather how much you lose in life – time and money and hope and fear – because of not being in the room with people having those conversations that feed your dreams, desires, knowledge, purpose, and mission. It’s too high of a price to pay.

Tami Nutall Jefferson is an older, non-traditional student with a professional real estate background. Tami begins her first academic year at Texas A&M University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Planning and Land Development while commuting between Waco and College Station. Her hope that every Wacoan – from all corners – can engage in and contribute to the growth and success of the city. You can connect with Tami at [email protected] or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tami.nutall1


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