As part of my current mission to clean things up so I can plan for next year, I found this never-published piece. I happened to come across it while reorganizing my pitifully jumbled computer files: hundreds of misplaced documents that were the equivalent of heaps of paper stacked up on the dining room table in haphazard piles. It was written in July 2012, and I’m posting it now for those of you at a career crossroads. It’s meant to give you some hope that perhaps your next career will find you, as mine found me.
My first exposure to life coach Martha Beck came by serendipity (which I think of as a meaningful and joyful coincidence sent down by forces of the Universe that get a kick out of such things, as a reward to me for good behavior). I had a long car trip coming up, and visited the public library to see if there was an audiobook that would help pass the hours.
I had just quit a lucrative and ego-satisfying job because I realized “these are not my people,” and was taking a breather, in alternating states of relaxation and terror. As I perused the paltry selection (we need to get out there and support our public libraries!), “Steering by Starlight, the Science and Magic of Finding Your Destiny” caught my eye.
I had no intention of finding my destiny—I just wanted to prevent the inevitable boredom that stretches between Ohio and Maryland.
To my dismay, the jacket said that Dr. Beck was a regular columnist for “O Magazine.” While that isn’t really a BAD thing, you should know that I am personally affronted when Oprah promotes a book I love—somehow it seems to cheapen every great literary discovery I want credit for making on my own. “I read it before Oprah did!” is my personal, pathetic rant.
Oprah scooped me. I decided to forgive Martha Beck—she can’t help it if she’s extraordinary enough to make the “O” list.
I listened. I laughed. I recognized my own longing to mean more to the world. After 12 hours in the car, I stopped at the bookstore even before getting home to see the big yellow dog I desperately missed. I read the book. I read it again. I took another of Dr. Beck’s books out of the library. Read it. Bought it. Read it again.
Miraculously, I began to recognize my own gifts, which explained my success in sales, but weren’t being fully realized in that career. I started down my true path, helping people connect to their true selves, and supporting them as they survive the 10-on-the-Richter-scale changes that honesty inevitably causes.
I enrolled in her life coaching course, and realized that I could admire her for her extraordinary skills as a writer, her sense of humor, and her view of how the world works (which, not surprisingly, closely matches my own), without penalizing her for her popularity. I saw that she’s living her path of true genius, and it’s astoundingly powerful.
I wonder what fabulous work I will produce when I’ve traveled a bit down my own true path?
Since this piece was written, I’ve created and facilitated public and private workshops, coached individual clients through difficult times, and spoken to groups on subjects like Emotional Intelligence, Workplace Stress, Dream Interpretation and The Cycle of Change. I’ve written dozens of blog posts and have begun work on articles for publication and on a book. Some of my work has been fabulous, some mediocre, but I continue to practice. I live by the rule, “If you want to get great at something, you’ve got to be willing to suck at it for a while.” Adopt this rule, and your path to meaningful work will make a lot more sense.