Take Inventory

It’s that time. Clean out the car. Clean out the desk and other items. Get organized. When we’re organized we’re efficient. When we are organized we are also effective. I learned how and why I needed to be organized in 8th grade. I had a few lessons to make me remember. Forgetting to bring an important item to class made me remember. This item was a red pen.


The red pen was an item I needed in my favorite history class taught by the best history teachers/professors I’ve ever had. And one of the best teachers I’ve ever had in my academic career: Mr. Andy Zuck. Zuck’s mission was straightforward. He believed in establishing authentic literacy regarding history in his students. He also believed in instilling good citizenship traits in his students: one of those was being organized. Mr. Andy Zuck reinforced my lifelong love for history and especially reinforced my lifelong passion for military history. He also taught me a few things about organization.

Blackboard with chalk

Mr. Zuck required you to have black and blue pens, pencils, and a red pen. The red pen was for peer grading. We (the students) would exchange our homework assignments with each other when they were due and we would then grade papers. One day I forgot my red pen. Typically I skated and didn’t get caught. I managed to borrow a red pen from my pals in the same row. Unfortunately, my good luck ran out.

“Mr. Zuck, I’m sorry. I don’t have a red pen.” I said this while more than embarrassed and in a sheepish tone.

“You can borrow one of mine, Brandon”

Mr. Zuck said this in his firm and gentle tone. I then approached the front desk of the classroom. As he handed me the red pen he spoke again.

“This is a mark, Brandon.”

Four marks equaled a detention. I didn’t want to go do time.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Zuck.”

I was torn up inside, just thirteen years old trying not to cry.

“So am I, Brandon.”

I never forgot my red pen again. Organization and taking inventory, making a checklist, and assessing the tools I needed for any type of project became a part of my routine. Zuck didn’t just teach me history he taught me organization. I was sorry to have to cross the street later to have young ‘hip’ teachers who acted more like game show hosts and marching band leaders which was the job they really prioritized over instead of being  real teachers. The organizational skills that Mr. Andy Zuck taught me carried with me forever. Even in my current profession, organizational skills matter. I gather and analyze so much information and I drive for miles and miles. It would be a damn shame if I forgot anything would it? I have an organizational system thanks to Mr. Andy Zuck.



We also have our metaphysical and spiritual inventories as well. Our strengths and weaknesses. We need to take inventory of those. I believe in a higher power and his name is Jesus Christ. You never thought a Christian could drink and review all of those beers and guns, and write science fiction did you?  Well the world is full of surprises, twists and turns. Get used to them.

God has given each of us gifts (the list included in the bible verse is not finite), some call these traits. We are not all aware of our gifts when we are little or young. It takes time to recognize these gifts we bear. Two of my gifts are perception and observation. When I was a reporter I began to realize these gifts. I could start to tell who was a trustworthy source and who wasn’t. Especially when I covered a local election. Now in my current job I depend on those two gifts that are continuously being honed. I look for red flags, I find them, and from there I make a decision of how to proceed on my projects.

My perception and observational skills enable me to do my job with the camera, computer, and vehicle. My observations allow me to perceive indicators of risk. My writing skills enable me to craft a solid technical document explaining the efforts I have made and the work I have done, enabling the end-user to make the best choice regarding this risk.

Take inventory of your gifts, not just your working tools.





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