Category Archives: how can i make a difference

SerenDestiny #67: People Can’t Jump on your Bandwagon – If It’s Parked in the Garage

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“If you don’t go, you’ll never know.” – Robert De Niro

Many of us operate with the opposite of Robert De Niro’s insight.

If we don’t know; we don’t go.

The problem with that?

By definition, with any new venture, we DON’T KNOW what we’re doing.

If we use “knowing what we’re doing” as a prerequisite for moving forward … we never move forward.

Yikes.

That’s where GTS comes in.

What’s GTS?

Let me explain.

A year after my son Andrew graduated from VA Tech with a business degree, we were having dinner.

Andrew had “lucked out” and found a job as an executive recruiter. He was the envy of his college buddies because he was working in a classy downtown building, making good money and working for a respected, well-connected industry icon who was arranging for him to do neat things like work at events with President Obama and Tony Bennett. Not the normal career trajectory.

Yet, as I looked into Andrew’s eyes that night, there was no spark.

In fact, he used a word I’d never heard him use before. Exhausted.

I asked, “So, are you going down to VA Tech this weekend to see the game?”

“Nah. By the time I’d drive down there, I’d only have a few hours and then I’d have to turn around and come back. I just don’t have the energy. I’m exhausted.”

Exhausted?!? How could that be? How was it that this formerly energetic 20-something was burned out?

I asked, “Andrew, what’s up?”

He said, “Mom, I want to quit. I know I should be grateful for this job, and I am, but sitting at a computer all day researching job openings and making cold calls is not what I was born to do.”

“What do you want to do?”

Andrew immediately became more animated. “I want to start a non-profit.”

I have to admit, this conservative person I didn’t even know existed popped up and almost caused me to blurt out, “Non-profit?! Do you know how many non-profits are going out of business these days because donations have dried up? How are you going to pay bills? What about health insurance?”

Thank heaven a wiser voice prevailed. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this exactly what 20-somethings ought to be doing at this stage of their life? Andrew’s 23. If he doesn’t go for what he wants now, he may never get a chance to later. Good for him for wanting to do work he’s proud of. I should be supporting him, not shutting him down.”

So, I said, “Andrew, you’ve always been resourceful. If you apply yourself, I know you can pull this off.”

You may be thinking, “But how could Andrew pull this off? He’d never run a non-profit before.”

That’s true … and that’s where GTS comes in.

GTS stands for Google that … stuff. (As you can imagine, Millennials sometimes substitute another word for stuff.)

Andrew thanked his boss for giving him that job opportunity right out of college – and then promptly got online and Googled “How can I start a non-profit?”

Up came dozens of resources – all telling Andrew exactly what steps he needed to take to get a license, find a team and get funding.

In the course of one year, Andrew recruited a team of 20 (!) interns and found a collaborative work space at the Affinity Lab in Washington DC.

It was the ideal environment to get other people on his bandwagon. Someone a couple desks over would ask, “Andrew, what are you working on today?”

Andrew would say, “I’m applying for a grant” and they would say, “Oh, I did that last year. You can borrow the proposal I filled out and use it as a template.”

Andrew never had to go it alone as he was surrounded by others who shared his vision and had his back … and front.

The result?

Dreams for Kids – DC – http://dreamsforkids.org/blankman/dc/ – has sponsored dozens of adaptive athletic programs for kids and gotten them off the sidelines and into the games of life. They have sponsored Extreme Recess clinics with the Washington Nationals baseball players, Capitals hockey players, Wizard and Mystic basketball players and United soccer players.

Dreams for Kids – DC has made a positive difference for thousands of young people through their Dream Leader programs in local schools and through their annual Holiday for Hope program at Howard University.

All because Andrew didn’t quit before he started because he “didn’t know what he was doing.”

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years interviewing people about their SerenDestiny – a life where the light is on in your eyes because you’re doing what you love most and do best – it’s that PEOPLE CAN’T JUMP ON YOUR BANDWAGON – IF ITS PARKED IN THE GARAGE.

What do you want to do? What would put the light on in your eyes?

Are you hesitating because you don’t know what to do?

Remember – you don’t have to know to go.

Get online right now. Phrase what you want to do as a question and put it into your favorite search engine. GTS your dream goal – and up will come dozens of resources to help you on your way.

Whether you want to write a book, become a ballroom dancer or launch your own business … those online resources will tell you how to take your first steps.

Do you want this year to be your best ever? Do you want the light on in your eyes?

Don’t wait, initiate.

GTS what you want to do. And then get your bandwagon out of the garage and get moving.

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SerenDestiny® #53: What If I Don’t Know What My Calling – My Purpose – Is?

“Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up … because they’re looking for ideas.” – comedian Paula Poundstone

Are you one of the lucky ones who knew, at an early age, exactly what you wanted to do when you grew up? Or, are you still trying to figure it out?

If you’re confused about what you want to do with you “one, wild and precious life” (thanks Mary Oliver); my upcoming SerenDestiny® book offers “10 Questions to Kick-Start Your Calling.”

Asking yourself these questions can move you closer to finding the sublime clarity that results from knowing what you’re put here to do.

When this “Oohh, that’s why I’m here” piece falls into place in the puzzle of your life, a light-bulb in your head and heart goes on and you feel a catalyzing sense of direction and purpose.

Here are a couple sample questions from Chapter 2 from my upcoming SerenDestiny® book.

Take a few minutes to mull them over. Better yet, discuss these questions with a friend over lunch. Who knows, they may crystallize your calling and catalyze a mission that gives your life meaning.

2 SerenDestiny® Questions to Kick-Start Your Calling

Ask yourself,

Kick-Start my Calling #1. When am I “in the groove?” What comes easily and naturally to me?

What do you do well, almost without thinking about it?

That’s your groove – and your groove is your gift.

Your happiness in life is in direct proportion to the degree with which you wrap your life around your gifts. Because they were given to you – so you could gift them back to the world.

Yet many people take their groove for granted.

Musician Jay-Z says, “Don’t get in the way of the groove.” Yet many people do just that.

They assume that anything that comes easily to them must come easily to others.

As a result, they devalue their groove and dismiss it as a career option. They conclude, “I couldn’t make a living from that. It’s too much fun.”

The opposite is true. Almost by definition, what comes easily to you does NOT come easily to others. Your calling could be to TEACH that to others or to DO that for others.

Furthermore, having fun is not a reason to dismiss something as a career option … it is a reason to look more closely at how you can turn that into a profession where you get paid to do what you love most and do best.

Kick-Start My Calling #2. What do I care about and enjoy doing – even if it’s not noble?

Dan Pink, author of Drive, says, “If you ask people, ‘What is your passion?’ they often freeze. They feel as if they have to give an amazing answer, like ‘feed the orphans of the world’ or ‘write a novel that changes the landscape of literature.’”

Agreed. Many people apologize for their passion. Like Dan says, they think it has to be legitimate and “respectable” in the eyes of others.

They worry, “What will people think if they found out my passion is fixing cars or fixing hair?”

Passions are personal. They are what you feel called to do – even if they don’t make sense to the people around you.

So, how did you answer those questions?

I’d love to hear what insights they triggered for you.

Would you like more of these “How can I kick-start my calling?” questions?

Subscribe to this blog (and share it with colleagues.) I’ll be featuring other thought-provoking questions that might help the light-bulb go off in your head and heart, including:

* “What used to fill you with joy, but you abandoned it because you got busy; moved on to other interests; or someone told you, “You’ll never be able to earn a living doing that?”

* What is a problem you see in your neighborhood, community or industry – something that’s not the way it could or should be – and you think, ‘Somebody should do something about that?”