Want to make a difference? Listen to this!
In 1990, I left the staffing industry to launch Inspired Work. Many clients had become close personal friends and it was exciting to tell them the news. Nancy Kezlarian was one of my favorites, helping run Norman Lear’s Company – Act III Productions. Nancy was one of the those absolutely civilized individuals so consistent she had become a brand – supportive, kind, smart, wise and cool. We sat in her office in Century City and she asked, “So, what do you have to tell me?” I told her I was leaving to pursue my life’s work, the work I was born to do. Surprised, she responded, “I’m doing the same thing.” She was in her early forties, single and we were in a recession. Sounds like a good time to quit one’s job and go back to school!
We reconnected ten years later. At the time, Nancy was the Executive Director of the Florence Crittendon Center in Los Angeles, as far away from the glamour of Hollywood as we can get. The first Florence Crittendon Center was opened in 1892 by Charles Crittenton, a wealthy and powerful man. He believed his power could overcome anything until his little girl died. His smartest friends suggested that he respond to his grief by doing something about the destitute single mothers walking and struggling down the streets of our town. The power of moving beyond crisis by committing to something greater than ourselves has never changed. Today, there are Crittenton Centers throughout the United States. In each center, we find young mothers and their babies. Without this vital lifeline, they would be living in poverty and probably homeless. The stories are heartbreaking and shocking – abuse, neglect, drugs, gangs, horrific families and poverty are the norms. In the middle of it all, I found Nancy Kezlarian, overjoyed, fulfilled and fully awake. In finding the “work” Nancy had entered an unimagined life that nourished her in ways she had never expected. I asked, “How did you end up here?” She said, “Norman Lear is a wonderful man. I had a terrific job as his Human Resources Director. But, my personal development pushed me into a different course. The more that I studied and the more aware I became of how I am wired, the more I realized that my life’s work would be centered in healing.”
In this economic landscape, we are even more apt to be talked out of finding the meaning in our work. And yet, it is the very lack of meaning that got us into trouble. If we want to recover, find something greater than ourselves to work on. Find the work that is meaningful to us – personally. Pursue the work that changes rather than exploits the world. Last night, I was in a conversation with a young woman who is leaving for college in August. She was discussing how she is pursuing a degree in the arts. She said, “I guess where I’m headed doesn’t have an easy formula for a career.” I said, “The easy formulas are gone. What you are doing is preparing yourself for the work that fits your best and highest good.” Her eyes lit up and she said, “That’s it.”
Almost all of us have the capability to go here. How do we find it? We look beyond black and white. How will we know it? Our soul will tell us, “That’s it.”
Thank you and all the best.