Tuesday, August 20, 2013

So what do you do for a living?

It’s a scenario I know you’re familiar with: you meet someone for the first time, you exchange pleasantries, you perhaps comment on the weather or some common ground. Then the question gets asked “so what do you do for a living?” Now you have a choice. I don’t know if you know it but you have a powerful opportunity here to leave an impact on someone that they may never forget.
The vast majority of people (and I’m including myself in this) when asked this question “so what do you do for a living?” begin to describe their position in the organization they work for. Depending on who I’m talking to,here are some of the answers that I would give to this question today: I am a leadership development coach, I am a management and leadership trainer, I am a continuous improvement coach, I am a lean mentor.
Team picture of CCBRT staff after 3 days of hands on problem solving using Lean Thinking

When I reflect on it deeply I almost never describe the purpose of the organization that I contribute to. So if I were answer with that in mind I would say “I contribute to a Tanzania where people have access toquality disability services as well as safe maternal and newborn healthcare – I do this by teaching my colleagues on the most powerful continuous improvement methodology every discovered by man”.
But maybe there is a better question – rather than “What do you do for a living?” instead ask “what do you want to do for a living?” Now that’s a powerful question. Think of how many people who don’t even allow themselves to answer or even ask that question. However with all my heart I know this question is deeply important to everyone. It’s a question in my opinion that in part justifies why our soul / our spirit exists. It’s a question that makes us uniquely human.
There are millions of different answers to the question “what do you want to do for a living?” I’m going to make an assumption here, but I pretty sure your answer would relate to your vision of living a life that would leave a legacy. You vision of living a life of greatness. However greatness is never achieved by copying others.  I would do you a disservice and insult you if I simply asked you to follow me. After all, what do I know about you and what your purpose is in life? My opinions should have no influence on the truth of your purpose in Life. But I deeply believe that both you and I have a purpose, that greatness is something that is not started by transforming things around us, but greatness is started from transformation of self, where your purpose is discovered, grown and released from within.
The outcomes of all our work in CCBRT are felt by our patients - how can we keep these infants safe from harm?

Within me I have a strong burning feeling the coming to Africa and spreading Lean Thinking into Healthcare is part of my purpose. The feeling I get from this work gives me satisfaction, it gives me contribution to something bigger than self, it gives me meaning, it gives me significance. However, I don’t want this letter to be about me. I want this to be about you. I sincerely do want you to find your Truth. To find your Purpose. So my challenge to you as I finish this letter. Do not focus on me or how you’re going to answer the question “What do you do for a living?” but instead focus on asking yourself a better question “What do I want to do for a living?” Warning: The answer will take time. Warning: The answer will CHANGE your life.