Good Morning and welcome to day 14 of my self commitment to write each day for 15 minutes.
Currently listening to Daily Lift on Spotify and celebrating that my puppy just stayed in a down stay for six whole minutes without moving!
My writing from day 13 was so terrible I decided not to post it. I suppose I didn’t really outline the specifics of posting or not posting the writing I do each day, but for now we will say the rule is this: when the writing is bad we do not share it. I will say, it had a lot to do with Billy Joel and changing, but that’s about it. If you want to read it and let me know what you think please reach out—but for now I will just keep it between me and the wall.
Last night at a fabulous holiday party I had very philosophical discussions with really interesting people about the balance of living a meaningful and passionate life and doing what you have to do to survive. There is the older generation mentality which is, “Why would your work have any meaning at all? Just do what you have to do to get paid.” and then there is the generation we are being led by now which is, “Ok I can try to give you meaning in your job, I will implement some trendy workplace culture tools to make you feel like coming to work is as exciting as going to play pool with your buddies; because you will come to work and play pool with your buddies.”
And then there are those of us on the edge. Some of us have started ground breaking companies and are really infusing purpose into our work, some of us are still in mid level management trying to change the culture where we are and some of us are one foot in and one foot out. We know we have to have passion and meaning in our work, we have stumbled upon it a bit but we still have to dance with the one who brought us, whoever is paying our salary. We aren’t quite fully living into our idea of meaningful, independent and flexible work but we are perhaps on our way.
I also know there is an entire group of people who just never play by any rules. I’m not even sure they know what rules are. When you ask them if they would ever work anywhere they say or demonstrate with their behavior that they would rather starve and live on the streets then go work in a high rise building clocking in and out each day.
So let’s pretend, that you who is reading this is not the latter. Maybe you are somewhere in mid level management trying to make changes, maybe you aren’t managing anyone but you go to work every day and on your commute you imagine all of the things you would be doing if you didn’t have to go to this place and work on something you care nothing about. And maybe you are right on the verge of making money on your own doing what you love but you still need that salary to pay your bills.
What do you think is between you and meaningful and impactful work? Do you think it is your boss? Your family? Your student loans? That 2018 just wasn’t really the year to make changes? That you have to take care of your aging parent and there is no room for ideas and creativity?
Of course it is all of those things and, it is none of them. The only thing getting in the way of you living a meaningful and impactful life (designed on your terms) is you.
Yeah I said it. No sugar coating over here people. The only thing that ever gets in the way of what you want, is you.
Here is how I know this. This past summer I volunteered at my cousin’s STEM camp down in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Never heard of it? Yeah because it is tucked deep in the south and the only press it gets anymore is VICE Media coming down to interview the local leader of the Right Supremacy movement. Which, by the way, is not the only thing this town is about at all, but it is certainly one aspect. Let’s just say, you are not going to read about this little town in Travel and Leisure Magazine.
We were using coaching as a leadership training for the outgoing seniors who have attended and excelled in the STEM summer program. We had a blast. These students were engaged, excited and really really dynamic. They also are taking care of their brothers and sisters, working sometimes two jobs, and at times, some of them are even taking care of their parents who are on disability or cannot work. While we were coaching the seniors, some of the work I did touched 15 year olds and 16 year olds. This is who I am referring to when I say they were taking care of their brothers and sisters, a sick parent and working two jobs while trying to pass their sophomore year of high school and think about their future. Have you ever worked that hard physically and emotionally? I know that I haven’t.
One of the main issues that the summer program faced was transportation. The school busses were not scheduled to run for the summer, so from what I can remember the program had to contract them out for their students. These busses kind of just came and went when they felt like it. Some mornings your bus might show up at 6am and other mornings it might not come until 7:15am.
So here you are, a kid who is in an advanced summer program because you are talented and hard working, you leave the summer program each day and go to a job or go home to take care of your parents and siblings and then at 5:30am you wake up and you grab your stuff and you go outside to wait for the bus and it doesn’t come for almost two hours. Have you ever waited that long for a bus? Again, I will kind of let you answer that on your own, but I know I haven’t.
This was an issue that the teachers understood and often accommodated in their classrooms. Students showing up at different times, students not showing up at all because the bus doesn’t even run in their neighborhood and the ride they organized with a neighbor friend fell through. On top of the transportation issue the bathrooms are not clean. You may say to me, what do you mean by not clean? I cannot begin to describe to you how not clean I mean. This is what we are doing to our kids in America. Have you ever tried to learn in such a disruptive learning environment?
Ok so one day one of our amazing students doesn’t show up for school. My cousin messages me and my Aunt to let us know we will be down one student and we might have to adjust our agenda. We are very disappointed because these students deserve this education and we really like them and we want them to be able to participate. We also are adjusting to the normal of the situation which is, sometimes the students cannot get to school.
An hour or so later the student who was missing in action shows up to school. When my cousin asks him what happened he said he missed the bus (probably because it didn’t come when it said it was going to or it just showed up 45 minutes early and he obviously wasn’t standing out there waiting for a bus that isn’t supposed to come for 45 more minutes). He then goes on to say that because he missed the bus he started walking to school and on the way to walking to school a truck pulled over and asked him if he needed a ride and so he happily accepted their generous offer and got in the car with a stranger and proceeded to show him the way to his school.
This student hitchhiked to school. Have you ever hitchhiked to school?
When he got to the classroom and my Aunt and I asked him to tell us what happened he proceeded to share the same story. When one of us said, “I have a question, What would you have done if he tried to hurt you or he wasn’t nice?”.
The student calmly and with a straight face said. “I probably would have life coached him”.
This is what I mean when I say the only thing between you and what you want is you. It is not your circumstance, it is not your bank account, it is not your upbringing and it certainly isn’t even the malfunctioning bus system that never seems to work on time.
It is most likely fear, a lack of hard work and a lack of vision. These students decided that they were willing to work this hard to get an education. They decided that. No one told them they had to, no one held them accountable, no one showed them how it was done. They decided this was important to them and they were going to do whatever it took, even hitchhiking, to get their education and take the next step toward the life they desire.
So I guess my question to you is, are you willing to hitchhike? Are you willing to wait two hours for the bus? Are you willing to work three jobs and take care of the kids while building the business you really want? If not, that is perfectly ok. But do not pretend for one second that there is anything between what you want for your life and where you are right now other than you.
I know it can be scary to step into the life we desire, because it can be so foreign and so uncomfortable. Sometimes we are staring at the thing we wanted and the thing we envisioned and prayed for and we still cannot accept it or step into it.
I don’t pretend that coaching is a fix all for all of this fear and lack of hard work. What I will say is that coaching and visioning is the tool that you can return back to when you think you are too tired or you have made up one more excuse or you aren’t sure if you really want it. When I coach you, I hold space for your fears, I allow you to process them, understand them and overcome them. I hold you accountable to yourself, to your dream to your vision. When you want to give up, I help you examine why and then I remind you where you said you wanted to go and what you wanted to build.
In all of this, is you. You have to decide what you want for your life, you have to decide how hard you are willing to work, you have to decide. And once you do, well that is when the fun really starts.