Hair on fire, sleeves rolled up, the residue of adrenaline forming as the dew of perspiration, mental fatigue manifesting as frustration, the pages of a calendar flipping by as the years begin to leave their mark from the quest. The paper-chase, that all-out run for money, turns the quest into a burdensome trudge. Every month, I interview and, in some cases, work with the newly minted, fresh-out-of-college, change-the-world optimist. They are ready to launch their quest for job, career or profession. The quest, initially, is to secure a foundation of security. They are yet to learn that true security is an illusion, but I will digress into my philosophy and wander down a lonely path, mostly less traveled.
The enlightened will learn to balance the gain, turn the chase into a game and learn the rules (or make them up) to make the game one worth playing.
Some begin by chasing the material. Some validate self-worth based on their W-2, the assumed value of their vehicle and the accessories they flash as symbols of success. When the quest is simply about chasing money, purpose takes a backseat to work. Following the call of purpose can be a joy. It creates its own form of reward from the pursuit. To me, the word “work” conjures up memories – it is something that is necessary, generally distasteful and not fun. I think of bailing hay in the summer, cutting lawns, delivering newspapers and digging fence posts by hand – that’s work. My book Always Forward! is in the final stages of publishing. In the book, I espouse and expand upon the importance of work. Everything, I submit, is in the work. But context and perspective can be found in the meaning of a word. Throughout my career, I have defined the word “work” as synonymous with the pursuit of purpose. I have never worked a day in my life, other than those times in a factory and at a gas station working my way through college.
Material increase in life can be cashing the check, buying the house or measuring success from an external source. Intrinsic increase is the joy, the happiness, the feeling that comes from accepting the challenge, making the attempt and achieving the required or chosen outcome. Before we can generate the conditions for external reward, we must first become aware of the need to challenge ourselves to change from within. Growth comes from change. While most fear “change” and cringe at the printed and spoken version of the word, it is the impetus for a life lived forward. Self-awareness and self-governance are the first steps to internal change. When you find the courage to take the first step, you begin to create those lifestyle options that many dream of and few live. Those who live their dreams are those who make responsible, intelligent choices from awareness. They cash those choices by making those changes that create a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
When you follow the call of your purpose, you will realize the difference between “making a living” and “living a life.”