How to Hold a Flashlight

Jim Suszynski
4 min readJan 6, 2021

The most important skill I’ll never master.

This will be the title and topic if ever I am graced with the opportunity to deliver my very own TED talk. Will that ever happen? Doubt it, but if it does…I’m ready.

I’ve been waiting for an interviewer to ask a related question so that I could take off running with a thoughtful, albeit unconventional, response. A question such as what is the most important thing you’ve learned or what do you believe is your greatest strength/skill?

Being a professional flashlight holder requires a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you…

Okay, I’m back.

The skills and required mindset of properly holding a flashlight can be translated seamlessly to construction, project management, relationships (both professional and personal), and life in general.

My dad taught me a lot about working with my hands. He taught me everything there is to know about fixing every part of a car. He had no idea how much deeper those little lessons go and how much they’ve shaped who I am today. There were plenty of tears along the way — I got a thorough lesson in “ How to curse, in English!” right alongside how to change brake pads and shoes. Those R-rated course corrections stuck with me long after the tears dried.

If he was underneath the car fighting a seized-up bolt with a jerry-rigged socket and ratchet set up, the last thing he needed was to do so blindly. That’s where I came in. Luckily for him, child labor was much cheaper than renting shop time and I couldn’t drink yet so he didn’t even have to pay me in beer.

It took a while, but I got very good — and I’m still improving. Top-notch flashlight holder. Some folks nowadays may even call that position a “sight facilitation professional” or something to spice up their resume.

…it’s not deer-tay… It’s just Dirt

As I alluded to earlier, holding a flashlight does require and build upon the same skills the project management does.

  • You must focus on the task at hand by knowing what step you’re on. In order to know the step you’re on, you have to understand what you just completed.
  • Know the next step. Again, to know the next step you must fully understand the step you’re on and the overall task.

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