Does Every Child Have A Unique Purpose?
Mo’s Bows is a tie and bowtie company founded by Moziah Bridges when he was 9 years old. Like so many successful children, his mother always gave him the idea he could do whatever he wanted with his life. Today, she works for her son when he shows up for work. But, when he gets home, his mother becomes “the CEO of his life.” This past year, Moziah’s company inked a multi-million dollar deal with the NFL.
I am working with my colleague Dr. Mary Campbell in redefining how parents prepare their children for the future of work. As the Industrial Revolution fades into history, we are finding that the beliefs and behavior of that era are persistent and become more toxic every day. Parents need a new outlook on the future of work.
I was born with the gift of music. By the time I was eight, I gave my first concert. My adoptive father was an Evangelical physician in a small town. He made it very clear that he would only fund my education if I also became an Evangelical physician. It didn’t matter that every time I was asked to dissect a bug, a frog, a mouse, or a cadaver, I passed out! As I progressed with life, I found that his strident need to overcome my vision wasn’t unusual at all. Many of my peers had parents who did the same thing. I rebelled and became a jazz musician. That quest turned out to be so righteous that it took deep self-inquiry to find my life’s work.
Today, many parents continue to tell their children what to do with their lives. In terms of fulfillment, the persistence in overriding our children’s interests never worked. But, accelerating change in the modern workplace has made it clear, getting in the way of a child’s unique career DNA has dreadful consequences. On a developmental level, the rote behavior has profound and negative impact. Children start envisioning their future at around 12-years-old. This also happens to be the age when children begin learning to trust or distrust themselves. When we start telling children they are wrong to be interested in a particular career path, we undermine their curiosity. And, curiosity is an essential element behind active learners who are quickly taking ownership of the modern workplace.
The author and pioneer of coaching Cherie Carter-Scott, tells a story of being a little girl in Catholic School. She was standing next to a nun in church. The nun asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Cherie innocently looked at the nun and looked to the front of the church and said, “I would like to become a priest.” Her statement was met with a slap and a rebuke that she had just committed a mortal sin. From a child’s eyes, Cherie simply realized the priest got to wear far more elaborate and fancy clothes. The incident led to a long period where she focused much of her energy into doing all that was expected of her. Years later, a drama professor asked Cherie what she thought of his curriculum. She responded, “No one has ever been interested in what I thought.” That moment became a turning point where she began writing out the very questions that led to the work she does today. I launched Inspired Work out of a similar quest. In fact, we find that far more value is derived from asking people the right questions versus telling them what to do.
Why do many of our parents and much of our educational system need to throw away the idea that children are clueless?
At Inspired Work, our quest is to help people connect with their unique purpose. We are surrounded by academics and behavioral scientists. Their input and the observation of our participants has led to the conclusion that personalized vision, mission, and purpose are essential drivers of successful individual change. Without it, most of us either repeat unfulfilling patterns or we simply stop what we are doing. When we are connected to our purpose, we are given the very reasons to progress through life’s ups and downs. In September 1990, I led the first Inspired Work Program. What happened during that weekend was so sensational that I became willing to lay my life on the line in order to perpetuate the work. In 27 years, there have been many times where a less compelling mission, vision, and purpose would have led to my folding the tent and moving on.
Today, we live in a world where change accelerates every day. New college graduates will change careers not jobs four-to-six times. As the storms of worldly change continue to increase, our purpose is the one ingredient that will keep the boat upright. It is tragic that we suppress self-definition with so many of our young people as an extension of our own fears.
I have been leading adults onto their right path for 27 years. I’ve been greeted with countless individuals filled with the idea they do not have a unique purpose. But, they do find that purpose. My conviction that all of us have that unique career DNA has only grown with time. I’ve watched it as thousands of individuals cast off the cloak of generalization as they launch exciting new careers, create new businesses, or go back to their jobs and create memorable value. As they go through our programs, so many run into that moment from the past where someone told them, “don’t be you.” Buying into that statement invariably led to careers where we work for the money but never sourced the work from our souls.
Spiritual well-being aside, in this rapidly changing landscape, having a personalized vision, mission, and purpose is what drives us forward despite the discomfort.
We are entering an era where telling our children to “go get a real job” can be ruinous. Be it God’s eyes, the future workplace’s new standards or simple common-sense, it is time for us to listen and encourage our children to talk about their futures, to support the conversation, to listen and connect them with the mentors who can give practical access to their greatest interests. We can ill afford to have them arrive at young adulthood feeling they are clueless.
Do the work you love and make a good living, on your terms. This is what we have always stood for. It is a vigorous road. And yet, in the long run, the alternatives are far more stressful and toxic.
Yes, we are losing entire categories of work. And, a fresh new world of work is emerging. Abundance continues to grow. I am not a saffron-robe wearing, serenely floating across the room gong-tinging new-ager. Technology is changing the world for the better. Technology gives us new freedoms. But, I am finding that many, many people are terrified of what to do with new freedom. Is it easy? Any life worth living isn’t easy. It is far easier to follow. Leading abundant and fulfilling lives takes courage. Let’s not make our children afraid of their own thoughts.
This what today’s children and tomorrow’s workers need. A vision they own, a purpose they embrace, compelled to walk down their own road with the conviction that what they are doing is so worth the effort.
(C) Copyright, 2017, Inspired Work, Inc. – (All Rights Reserved)
If you would like to discuss your workplace or your career with David Harder, schedule fifteen-minutes, Here.