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Why Didn’t You Become You?

Continuing my Tuesday/Thursday series of guest posts, here are some wise words to ponder.

Brought to you by David Harder, Founder & President of Inspired Work

There troublesome aspects of change. Many people believe they cannot change. Or, they are so afraid of changing themselves they won’t take meaningful action. Finally, many people want to change but they don’t know how.

These seeming dilemmas are natural as we lay to rest a world where all that we did with are lives was spelled out for us.

The industrial revolution built a work world and a culture that was fixated on predictability and survival. For 300 years this is what we sold within most recruitment pitches. Predictability and survival is what many of our parents told us to pursue. In that world, change was a bad thing. We changed reluctantly when we got laid off.

I happen to have a unique vantage point that has given me the awareness that all of us can change for the better. All of us have the capacity to transform our lives. These are not new age ramblings, my viewpoint comes from observing thousands of people change in valuable and positive ways.

I began to experience the human capacity for change right after we launched Inspired Work in 1990. In our second month of business, one of the nation’s largest banks became a client.

After years of success and stability, the CEO was looking for ways to manipulate more value into the shareholder’s pockets. That plan backfired and the bank no longer exists. Thousands of their ex-workers came through our programs. Most of these employees had what they believed were “jobs for life.” Many of them came in wearing blue suits and stickpins with the bank’s logo.

Before the participants found new lives and renewed purpose, they had to navigate through the shock of having ten to thirty years of employment come to a swift (and often bitter), end.

Something happens in the program that moves me as much today as it did at the beginning. We continue to find that when someone sees how to move into their right path, that sweet spot that will bring them emotional, practical and spiritual wholeness, they go there.

One participant was a young man who had become a senior finance executive. He had grown up in a family of migrant workers and was the first child to go onto college. He had become wildly successful at the bank but now on that seemingly melancholy day, the truth came out. He had never felt passion about climbing a corporate ladder. He had always been in love with being out in the fields.

At one point he whispered,

“All I ever wanted to do was to grow things.”

Now, he was a role model in his community. How could he let them down? You see, when we start peering into our best life, the way forward actually appears like we have to go back. But, we cannot. The way forward is about taking all that we have learned and applying that to our best life.

I engaged our friend in a dialogue. He had been working in the real estate side of the bank. He had become something of a financial wizard. That conversation was the moment where he began merging his passion with all that he learned.

Today, he is a wealthy farmer growing premium lettuce for gourmet restaurants across the western seaboard. Not only does he “grow things,” he is a wonderfully sensitive employer and looks out, every day, at the life he is meant to lead.

Every single one of us has that kind of sweet spot and we either live it or live with the alternative.

In the years since, I have run into so many people who get laid off and they are too frightened to raise their standards. They come to me and request, “Get me another job, just like the one that paid the bills.”

We have our reasons for going there. Once again, we fear that moving forward is about going back. We fear that our responsibilities will not be fulfilled. But, the truth is that going forward is about becoming the person we really are, the person we are meant to be and the person that we have come to be. And, there is always a practical solution.

In the end, finding our right path is about finding the practical purpose of our souls.

Recently, we lost the Holocaust survivor and great philosopher Elie Wiesel. He once said,

“When you die and go to heaven, our maker is not going to ask, ‘Why didn’t you discover the cure for such and such? Why didn’t you become the Messiah?’ The only question we will be asked in that precious moment is, 

‘Why didn’t you become you?'”


Brought to you by David Harder, Founder & President of Inspired Work