I'm starting on my New Years resolutions early...and one of them was to finish my book - Chasing Daylight by Erwin McManus--which I HIGHLY recommend. It was exactly what I needed. Many of the quotes were extremely motivational and I thought I'd share one of them that hit me as I look back at my manic underlining while reading it.
"We are all haunted with the fear of living lives of insignificance, and we all hear the voice that tells us we can live the dream. Somehow we all know that to play it safe is to lose the game. [Sometimes you have] to risk all that you have for all that could be."
I think this quote rings true for not only career but also love. Tonight, let's consider career.
Here was my scenario. I wanted a corporate office, window, expense account, networking lunches, office paid happy hours, and the prestige of a corner office with----yes, you guessed it-- a plant. Guess what? I got it---and even the plant was fake! Don't get me wrong - I was happy and extremely grateful for the life I was living. It was a good life, one I worked hard for, one I was financially very rewarded for. I had everything I wanted! I could even go shopping and drop a thousand dollars and not even flinch - by a round of shots for the bar and be everyone's best friend for the night....who wouldn't be happy?!
Yet everyday as I looked out my fish bowled windows I felt myself wondering what those people who were driving at 10am did? Then again at 2pm...what did those people do? 3pm? 4pm? Crap...I was still wondering at 6pm from my private office with my company logo'd polo what those people did. It went from a curiousity of what kinds of jobs didn't require an office, to sheer jealousy of those not confined by a desk. Before I strangled myself with my mouse, I knew I had to investigate because I believed I was made for something more.
I took a leave of absence to speak for a non-profit at corporations all over the twin cities. I figured it would not only be a great opportunity to give back to my community and use my talent of public speaking, but professionally I could scout out other corporations and see how much greener the plants were in their offices.
I visited nearly 60 corporations considered "best places to work" in 3 months. I learned a lot. They really were some of the best places to work....yet I was baffled when I found that even there, everyone was afraid of living a life without purpose - happy and grateful for the lives they had, yet unfulfilled. My actual speech incorporated this thought...perhaps that's why the quote in McManus's book struck me. People would approach me afterwards and talk about the fact they felt that they had so much more to give or talents they just were afraid to pursue for fear of leaving that plastic plant office to see if something could pan out. They simply couldn't risk all they had worked so hard for.
Many of those offices even had beautiful real plants...flourishingly green. They truly were wonderful enviroments to work in with great programs to acknowledge your work. Yet, even there, people were envious of everyone else's job, and of a person like me who was now someone you'd see out your window on the road at 10am, 2pm, and 3pm making a difference ...unchained by a desk. It wasn't the Office that was bad...it was the fact they weren't using their God given talents that made them envious. During that short leave of absence I literally spoke with thousands of people paralyzed by fear of not leaving any mark on this world - and living a life of insignificance was their greatest fear. I learned more in those months about human nature than any other time of my life. That was 2 years ago...and I've continued to be a part of that non-profit ever since.
Don't get me wrong - working for a great company you can make a huge difference. I'm talking about truly exhausting your talents...whether in a coporation or someplace else--risking comfort for uncertainty, in hopes of all that can be. Is that smart in this economy? Possibly not. First hand I can tell you it's a roller coaster with blows to your ego, and low lows...that is s100% worth it for the chance at your dream in my opinion. Yet most people are not willing to risk anything for something better....in fact, they cling to what they have for fear of failure.
Here at the end of 2008, I feel that I've stared failure straight in the face...I even let it spit on me. I won't lie, I cried, I've felt like I failed. Then I recognized that it's ok to restrategize but it's not ok to give up. I tell students I teach persistence beats resistence and I knew I had to practice what I preach. Someone I admire greatly said to me, "it's not the most talented people that make it, it's the most persistent who succeed and you can watch the rest drop out around you when the going gets rough". He also said, "Sometimes when you pursue your passions there aren't any signs. In fact the only signs there are, are people telling you you'll never make it." I've come to learn, that includes yourself.
So my final though is this...will you let someone tell you no because they economy is bad, the risk is too great, you're not good enough, it's not realistic, you're too old, or too young, that you'll never make it? Why let someone else determine your destiny? Erwin McManus taught me that we all fear following a passion for fear we'll pursue it wholeheartedly and it's the wrong choice. His book is an affirmation that "if we desperately want to do what is in God's heart, not just our own, the liberating reality is this: When we are passionate about God, we can trust our passions."
What I learned is those people we admire so much who seem to be living life to the fullest in all those jobs we wish we had aren't living on trust funds (I like to assume everyone who has a better life than me must indeed have a trust fund.) In fact they are the first ones to tell us that it's not that they are that much more talented, or intelligent than us, they simply chose to risk what they had, for all that could be. They Chased Daylight...and in doing so they are fulfilling their purpose-Living the Dream we all can live, if only - we dare to believe.
So I ask this tonight ---are you playing it safe? are you waiting for a sign? are you waiting to know the answers and outcome before you risk jumping in? A lifelong journey of pursuing your dreams will surely at some points bring hardship and suffering....it may even make you feel like you've been in a boxing match with your hands tied behind your back (refer to my depressive post below) Yet, the reward is the adventure, the boxing match and of course the possibility of the greatest life you've ever imagined.
In fact, if you take the risk, you might even find yourself walking among and watering the greenest garden that could never have existed in that lifeless florescent office.