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The Puzzle We Call "Life"

Griffin Furlong is a recently self-published author and Senior Project Coordinator for Atwell.

By: Griffin Furlong

“If knowledge is power then curiosity is the muscle.”

- Danielle LaPorte

I had many problems to figure out when I was little, so there was no surprise that I became an engineer. In third grade, I failed my multiplication table test five times, which isn’t what I consider a good start to my future career. In fifth grade, I had to map out the metro bus routes and walk miles to get anywhere because I didn’t have a car growing up, which included walking miles of train tracks to get my groceries. Not to mention, I lost my mother to cancer at the age of six and grew up with a single parent, which unfortunately caused us to go homeless for nearly four years after that.

The Furlongs. 2000.

And since I seemed to have so many stories to tell, that’s exactly why I became an author. I published my first book titled Boundless: Choosing a Mindset for Lifelong Growth in August of 2022. I began the writing journey after I graduated valedictorian of my high school in 2014. It was one of the first times in my life when I felt like I made it closer out of poverty. All of the hard work finally paid off and I wanted to inspire other students that they could make it out too.

Valedictorian Speech. 2014.

Despite the trials and tribulations in my childhood, I was always curious and investigative—or as my brother called it: hyper. No problem was too big. I learned that only the mindset toward a problem was the real challenge. I never liked hearing “just because” or “that’s impossible” as an answer to a question. I always wanted to prove that there was a concrete how or why to anything. Also, I didn’t like running away from a problem because it would never disappear on its own. Instead of running away from the fire, I ran towards the fire. Now, maybe I was just doing the things needed to survive, but that mentality made me who I am even now as a young adult.

Everything that I’ve learned in the Tampa office was from being thrown directly into the burning fire pit. Within my first couple of months on the job I was tasked with things that I didn't even know how to do, like stormwater models and utility infrastructure design. Although it was daunting at first, I was excited about the opportunity. Instead of being nervous and fearful, which don’t get me wrong that fire sure was making me sweat, all that meant was that I had a new puzzle to solve.

Reviewing drainage design with engineering team. 2022.

I failed so many times in the Tampa office too. I even repeated a few mistakes. But without failing and all of the repetition, I wouldn't have laid the foundation. The failures just brought more lessons to learn from and those are things that I’ll never forget.

Nothing has changed, I’m still the same curious little kid that investigates and never gives up until I find the solutions. The same kid that enjoys being a sponge and soaking up anything I can to be better the next day. The same kid who loves to share and teach anything that I’ve learned along the way.

Two of my favorite medicines in life are the lightbulbs that go off when you teach someone something new and laughter. Every day there’s a new problem to be solved, something new to learn, and wonderful people that make me look forward to waking up each morning.

To me, life is a little bit more fun when there’s a puzzle to investigate.

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