How I Found the Work I Was Born to Love
I was leading two lives. During the day, I was a staffing executive in Los Angeles and at night, I performed as a jazz pianist and composer at some of our town’s greatest venues. I kept this bone-crushing schedule because I wanted to live in Malibu until my ship, a recording contract, would not only come in, it would actually dock. It was very difficult for me to find joy in staffing. The work didn’t feel especially meaningful and there was aggression in the profession that I often found off-putting. Then, it happened.
I got a call from Lyman Underwood, a well-known producer who had just inherited a fortune. He was launching a label in the Warner Brothers family and they wanted me to become their first artist. As we went into production, Lyman and I spent much of our breaks talking about the future. We thought of ourselves as visionaries. About six weeks into our work, I was home and getting ready to take a run on the beach. The phone rang. It was Lyman’s girlfriend. She started sobbing the moment she heard my voice. Lyman, at 37, had walked to the base of the stairs in front of her and dropped dead of a heart attack. After inhaling the grief about this loss, I was filled with the most sobering insight of my life.
I was always focused on being happy in the future.
I realized that I knew nothing of value about being happy in the present. As I began examining my life, I realized that work, for most of us, is the biggest relationship in our lives. We spend most of our waking hours getting ready for, being at, managing, and traveling in behalf of our work. But, our culture is ill-equipped to help us develop a great relationship with our work.
For example, how many of us love making a lot of money but have little joy about the work we are doing? How many people love their work but are financially starving? In this era of accelerating change, how many people would love to have a great relationship towards work but the best they attain is underemployment. Yet, as an abundance of new work flows into the market, they are trying to find work that is disappearing.
After that monumental shock, I began regular visits to the beach with a pen and a notepad. My friend Cherie Carter-Scott introduced me to Socratic process. By asking the right questions we can lead people to their own truth and that outcome is always more powerful than telling someone what to do. Over the course of the next 3 months, I wrote my way into a new life.
The condensed version of that journey became the beginning of The Inspired Work Program. In 1990, we delivered the first program and during those two days, I watched 36 individuals from diverse backgrounds dig into their souls and emerge with solutions that changed their lives.
For the first time, I found the work that no one told me to do or how to do it. This is also what happens for every one of our participants.
That day in 1990, was also the first time that I found work that was even more gratifying than music. Over the course of 29 years, we have facilitated thousands of people from all walks of life. We have been asked to take our core philosophies and design leadership, engagement and learning programs for organizations as diverse as USC, HBO, Disney, Rio Tinto Minerals, Loyola Marymount University, and many others.
This is what I have learned:
- If you want to be happy and successful with your work, do what you love.
- If you want to sustain success in the rapidly changing workplace, do what you love.
- If you want to become a skilled active learner, study what you love, stay with it until you fall in love with learning. Welcome to ownership in the future.
- Every single one of us has a unique purpose, a role that perfectly matches our career DNA.
Build the life skills that are needed for sustainable success, especially in the midst of accelerating change. These skills include sales, influencing others, and building personalized support systems. It is wise to learn how to leverage the value of how we use the Internet as well as learning how to fludily connect with people’s needs and expectations. Going back to school for another degree is not an effective substitute for learning these skills. In fact, many of our clients realize the very success they most wanted emerges from developing the skills.
If we are going to find the ideal, it is critical to set aside or at least become aware of our cynicism, contempt, aimlessness, resignation, and frenzy. For example, check in right now to see how these filters are impacting your belief and enthusiasm about a better life. Quite simply, these are the filters our culture gave all of us to destroy change, especially when we get frightened.
Right now, I believe the world needs as many people as humanly possible to find the work they love and to develop the skills to do that work with success. Every day, more people are falling by the wayside because they simply don’t have a clue in how to reinvent their professional lives. Do it for yourself and you become a role model for the people around you. Do it for your children and you give them insights in how to launch their professional lives on the right footing, the one that leads to their version of joy as well as abundance.
Don’t wait for something to happen! There has never been a better time to build that kinds of careers that fulfill our souls and often solve one more problem in the world around us.
My love for music continues. Finding a beautiful melody or a chord progression humbles me on the spot. But, helping people tune their own souls has become my number one passion in life.
We just delivered an Inspired Work Program. Watching people reach that moment where they realize they are not stuck and they know what is perfect for them is the mission. But, being there when they replace the world of diminishing returns with the work they love?
It just doesn’t get any better.
If you are reading this, you have either found that place or it is time to know that work is waiting for you. How do I know this? It has your name written all over it.