Is it even possible to find yourself at work? I guess that depends on you.
Finding her life’s work was super easy for my brainiac sister Sherilyn. Her incredible intellect, unfailing discipline and compassion for others made medicine an easy first choice for her. She coupled these skills with her amazing ability to focus. With dogged perseverance, Sherilyn successfully completed the rigors required of transplant surgeons and landed a plum position a nationally ranked teaching hospital. Though the hours were grueling, she loved her work. Because of her skill, lives were saved….the combination engaged her mind and her heart, enabling her to put her “whole self” into her work.
Then there was Angela, my college roommate and the older “sister” I’d always longed for. Angela has charisma out the yin-yang, a warm and kind heart, beauty and a “once in a 100-year voice.” When her voice professor suggested she consider singing Opera, she “knew” it was her opportunity to build a legendary career. She was right. Years later she would perform in the world’s most famous Opera houses and receive stunning reviews.
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
When you have a brilliant mind, a clear passion or stunning talent, choosing your life’s work can fall into place rather easily….”your gifts make room for you.” But what if you’re like me? Smart but not brilliant, talented but hardly world class and curious but lacking a clear passion? What if your “love” doesn’t fit neatly into a job description? Is it even possible for such a person to find work that feels like MeTime? I think it is. It is not an easy path, but I fully believe it is possible
Are you brave enough to carve out an uncharted course? Is your life’s work worth some risk and personal sacrifice? Can you withstand detractors? If so, add defining terms like “trailblazer, Creator, Influencer and Icon to your list of job titles.
Pursue Your Path
When I think of the handcrafted careers of Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs, I am hard-pressed to identify a clear cut career path. None built careers that easily fit into pre-selected course requirements for a specific college degree. Each listened carefully to the inside and heard their spirit sing when a task resonated with their talent. They pursued “unrelated” interests for the sake of curiosity. Each chose the path of life long learners, growing and evolving as their work lives unfolded before them. Recognizing that life gave them a multitude of diverse talents, they cultivated each gift with care. Refusing to be identified by a job description, they created their life’s work by stitching together every success, failure, gift, and interest until a patchwork of accomplishment lie at their feet.
In their examples, are lessons for we who dare to “never work a day in our lives.” We too can pay attention to the gentle stirrings arising when our gifts are engaged. We can learn a little or even a lot about a myriad of topics of interest and actively seek opportunities to explore work that engages and inspire. As career creators, we garner the courage to craft an evolving career that develops our talents, spurs our curiosity and stimulates our own brand of genius.
Discovering Your Path is not Undisciplined or Shortsighted
Discovering and crafting a career you love is distinguished from random frivolous pursuits. Career crafters are disciplined, focused and constantly learning and growing even though their endeavors expose them to varied disciplines. Flighty, undisciplined speculation is entirely different. No real learning or growth occurs because mastery and personal development are not the objectives. Short-sighted pursuits are fueled by the desire for instant gratification, quick and easy money or attention for its own sake. These fool-hearty pursuits never result in deep learning, meaningful understanding or development. All of which leads to a life wasted.
We, however, are smarter than that. Where the path isn’t clearly laid, we find the courage to keep searching. Eventually, we find. Though overwhelmed by all there is to learn and uncertain about even the questions to ask, we do our homework. We learn. When the career path is a patchwork of skills not yet assembled into a tidy job description or an idea that is still in the making, we build on. We are creators. With the gift of vision and confidence that comes only from spiritual congruency, we forge ahead, making a way where there is none. We are always growing. We practice diligence and continue moving forward all while listening to the stirring of our spirit. We persevere. Knowing that we are creating our life’s work, living our purpose with excellence one day at a time. We achieve.