As the school year comes to a close and many students prepare to graduate and embark on their futures, my own thoughts bring into focus the wild ride I’ve created in this adventure called life.
To say my career as a high tech marketing professional in corporate America was an adventure would unequivocally undervalue that experience. Midway through that career, my mother became ill. So, for close to 10 years, my every waking hour was saturated with high tech corporate work (60-80 hours per week plus travel) in addition to caring for a declining parent. The remaining time was infested with constant questioning, sleepless nights, and sheer exhaustion. On one level, I clearly understood and embraced both roles – my CAREER and the desire to “contribute, be recognized and be rewarded” alongside my strong PERSONAL need (and commitment) to ensure my mother received the attentiveness and care she so deserved. On another level, my thoughts continually drifted to a iridescent time when I might spread my wings and fly on a journey all my own.
After my mother passed in 1999, those translucent wanderings about my own journey intensified. What would happen if I resigned my job? Without my role as mom’s caregiver, how and where would I fit in? What would be my next “role” in life? I’d functioned in the role of marketing executive and care-giver for so many years…would I really know how to “be” in any other way or “do” anything else?
Then about three months into those wanderings – ironically on a clear, bright sunny snow-coated day in February – while roaming the local book store, a book – one that would launch the beginning of a new life phase for me – yanked my attention to the shelf where it comfortably nestled. At the time, I did not fully register on the dynamics of my find. It was much later that I realized the multi-faceted (and powerful) impact of what had been presented and shared in this book – Making a Life, Making a Living: Reclaiming Your Purpose and Passion in Business and in Life. As I read, I was convinced the content had been written directly to and for me…plus, the quotes were so relevant and applicable they soon became my mantras. A few included:
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” by Anais Nin
“Success means living the life of the heart.” by Frances Ford Coppola
“Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.” by Aldous Huxley
The contents and perspective taken in this book were truly enlightening, enriching, and relevant as I prepared to embark on my new life and career. Mr. Albion emphasized the “disparate paths people took to achieve a sense of purpose and meaning in work that carried over into their personal lives.” In this endeavor, he presents 12 succinct guidelines that address four primary questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you want?
- What can you do?
- Where can you go?
To assist in answering these questions, Mr. Albion provides numerous inspirational stories and aphorisms from diverse sages. Besides being introduced into the profound lives of writers through their inspirational quotes, and the lives of other famous individuals, I learned much more. These writers and others – along with Mark Albion, the book’s author – became my imaginary “friends” and “coaches” throughout my transition from one way of life into the next. Their stories and written words helped me travel down a more focused, heart-driven path – not only assisting me in discovering ME…but, also in realigning my true purpose and intentions.
Mr. Albion’s own life story also goes a long way in delivering believability and trust in what he shares and professes. In his early years, Mr. Albion was a Marketing Professor at the Harvard Business School. After 20 years, he grew disillusioned with seeking “money, power, and fame” and left Harvard. His ensuing years were filled with the creation of numerous companies – each with the foundation and fundamental concept and principle that “personal integrity was the real passport to prosperity.” One business he created – You & CO – focused on matching recent graduates with socially responsible companies. On a personal level, Mr. Albion’s own mother was diagnosed with cancer and given less than 6 months to live. She lived well beyond her 70’s and continued to head a successful manufacturing company (begun in 1978).
Out of all this rambling (and gushing over Mark Albion’s life) comes my thoughts and personal words of inspiration to students and graduates of all ages. Life is a like a cocoon. While living at home, holding a permanent job and/or attending school, we seem to be somewhat sheltered or “protected.” When we change jobs, graduate from school or just leave home, the cocoon cracks wide open. We become exposed and open to distinct, yet varying paths of opportunities. We are beckoned to recognize and acknowledge those opportunities. It then becomes our responsibility to embrace our power and extend those wings that will allow us to fly – joyfully motivated by the knowledge that what we are encountering is just one landing strip on the path of personal growth – and that many more opportunities will unfold and continue to lay in wait for our discovery. Keeping a watchful eye and putting ourselves out there – finding comfort and solace in the fact that we are the pilots of our lives.
© 2013 EMCarlock
The Write Resources, LLC™ – www.the-write-resources.com