Rare is the man or woman who can walk with graceful indifference to their career. I once had a music teacher advise me to learn all the theory I could, and then forget it.
Be the best you can be in your craft and then let it go. Really.
Identity and career are two parts of life that should never meet. If they do, it can be lethal, and very difficult to separate. A career can take over and leave true identity on life support. I speak from experience. It takes a long time to regain, or replace, what you lose.
I’ve found these dangers in the mixing of identity and career:
The choice is mine, the choice is yours. We have to remember that career is a great dance when the identity is kept separate. The challenge is found in living in a culture that values the opposite.
Recently my wife and I discussed the movie, Saving Mr. Banks. I was reminded of how surprised I was by the story and the film itself. It really got me to thinking about what shapes you as a person, over a lifetime. If you are not familiar with the story behind P.L. Travers and her character Mary Poppins, you can read this article for more.
Much of who I am was shaped by my childhood.
During my childhood, I had a father who drank to excess, suffered the neglect that goes with substance abuse, saw things that today are still difficult to write about, and witnessed an event that left a permanent mark. I know many of you have your own stories as well.
What’s most important here, though, is how Ms. Travers was shaped and how it produced such great work. It’s ironic how her great pain produced such great work. I found myself, as I watched the film, feeling like I was watching my own movie.
Much of what I have created, has been born from my pain and wounds.
In my one-on-one work with people, I use a process designed to help them look over their lives to find the pain and the wounds. This can be difficult work. Many are the walking wounded, and they’ve taken the path of “medicating” or just looking to escape. My great mission is to help people deal with what often they would prefer to ignore. I understand this and carry empathy for the great struggle many are facing. American culture has not helped. Our ever-increasing desire for entertainment, medication, and status are fierce animals.
Much of what I do is motivated by mission.
PL Travers found an outlet for some of what hurt. Her work has made a lot of children and adults happy. In the end, that counts for much. I don’t know if she was truly whole before the race was over, but maybe that happens on the eternity side.
Do you know what shapes you?
In many ways, truth-telling has gotten me in trouble. In the end, as I look back, it ended up for the good of the person across from me. Truth-telling is not always easy. In many situations, it has the potential of hurting the hearer or creating separation.
In the age we live in we’ve made three major mistakes:
I’m making a case for truth-telling because I know the benefits. If the people closest to me had shied away from it, I would be lost in my own delusions. Often we’re very good at deluding ourselves.
I want to be very clear that truth-telling is an art. It involves love, timing and a strong grasp of the situation underpinning the conversation. If the person delivering the truth is ill-equipped or oblivious to this, the truth will be a source of harm. As you can imagine, it’s vital to seek truth from those you trust.
The following are some truths I’ve had to communicate recently:
I haven’t perfected the art of truth-telling. I’m better at it than I was ten years ago, and I have a long way to go. It’s clear to me what happens if I fail to attempt truth-telling; I will fail myself and those who count on me.
In the age of #metoo, I wanted let you in on my hope for my son.
A friend told me some years ago that the Epic life is lived in the good and bad. His counsel has stayed with me. If you’re not careful, you could fall in the trap of believing an epic life is found in great heroics, acclaim or fame. It can be that, but honest people know it’s all about the moments. The following is a glimpse of a day in the epic life-mine:
Friday, August 18, 2017
7:30 AM – A walk in my neighborhood. Music playlist titled Yoga. Observing the moodiness of the clouds above me. A conversation with God
7:45 AM – Yoga and prayer
8:05 AM – Checking email and posting on social media
8:30 AM – Listening to Insight for Living and reflecting on living and dying
9:00 AM – Breakfast and listening to the news (local and national)
9:15 AM – Gig stuff (not Epic Living related). Quite bored and not finding it very meaningful. I push through because I have to
10:00 AM – Reached out to friends to check-in
10:05 AM – Back to the gig stuff
11:30 AM – Somethings wrong. Feel like my blood glucose is high. I test. 400 is the number. WT…
12:30 PM – Test my blood again. Still high. Take dosage of insulin. Getting frustrated because I haven’t eaten since 9.
12:45 PM – Cancelled 2 appointments, with apologies
1:30 PM – Feeling drained and listless. Take a nap
2:00 PM – Test my blood again. Lower number, but still too high. Decide not to take another dose. I’ve been burned before by getting too aggressive
2:45 PM – Looking at a draft version of a press release
2:45 PM – Prepare for a conference call
4:00 PM – Call medical provider about billing issues with insurance. I don’t like insurance companies. I see them as a legal racket. Very frustrated by the lack of competence and the game playing
4:20 PM – Talk with my wife about new opportunities and her so-called manager/leader. Hate seeing her go through. I listen.
As I look back over the day, it was epic. One thing that leaps out is the importance of morning prep. You never know what’s coming your way.
“I learn by falling down.”
The above words came to me today from a ten-year old boy named Rocco. I was observing him riding his Hoverboard and couldn’t help but notice his skill. Moving from room to room, or grabbing a snack from the fridge, he just moved effortlessly. I asked him how he learned to maneuver so well, and that’s when gave me the secret.
Learning by falling down is pretty straight forward for a ten-year old. He hasn’t accumulated all the baggage and wounds many adults have. He pretty much wants to be good at his art and sees falling down as an effective tool for learning. Did he ever get embarrassed or want to quit? I would think so, but accomplishing the mission/goal meant more to him than calling it quits.
I’m led to the following:
Rocco’s approach is sound to get some success. The key is trusting your gut and the system (i.e. doing this will result in…).
I think I’m going to find some more ten-year olds to hang around with.