October marks the traditional beginning of Harvest, a period of reaping in spiritual joy and happiness what had been sowed, tended, and nurtured over time.
Harvest also highlights the importance of remaining in the moment and embracing change with gratitude: Planning for next year’s crop depends on the outcome of this year’s harvest.
Every element of the experience is then valued for the insight it provides. Energy and effort are focused where they’re needed most, increasing the potential for another successful season, and the promise of many more to come.
Imagine adopting this optimistic perspective in our personal development, especially when considering a change in position or career.
Your next move would examine insights gleaned from your most recent experience, allowing next steps to be planned with greater clarity, fueling discovery of what matters most in life, and identifying a greater purpose for living it.
It’s a small shift, but a powerful one that begins with being completely open to and embracing change . . . both professionally and personally.
A Two-Week Window of Awareness
My orders were to meet the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Taney in New Bedford, Massachusetts on Friday, October 4th.
That Wednesday, the ship seized a cargo freighter off the coast of New Jersey loaded with 90,000 pounds of marijuana. Diverted to the nearest port for transfer of contraband and crew, the Taney amended my orders to instead meet them on their projected return to Portsmouth, Virginia, on Thursday, October 10th.
Gifted with one last weekend in Boston, some friends and I decided to visit one of our favorite clubs. That Saturday night I met Anna, the love of my life.
It’s funny how things can turn out so right when your self-predictions turn out to be so wrong.
I emphatically believed that I would never meet my future wife in a club. Suddenly, there she was. An Interior Design student from the University of Florida, Anna’s class was studying structures and design in the city. I summoned the courage to introduce myself, we went on a date the next night, and agreed to stay in touch.
Thus began a fairy tale romance between the dashing, young officer, and beautiful, free-spirited girl . . . Anna maintains that something in my voice told her I was the one. All I knew is that her smile made my heart sing, and that I couldn’t imagine a life without her.
With head planted firmly in the clouds, I pointed my car south on Interstate 95 and arrived in Virginia as directed. While it was wonderful to reunite with classmates from the Coast Guard Academy, my welcome from Senior Officers was lukewarm, at best.
There was a significant difference in the culture onboard this new unit. Thoughts and opinions valued during my previous assignment were suddenly brushed away as an inconvenience.
This didn’t prevent me from fulfilling my duties but did lead to examining insights from my experiences to that point.
I discovered that expression, and the opportunity to engage in strategic thought and discussion, was very important to me. Having input listened to and valued, learning from experienced and talented mentors, and the opportunity to apply lessons learned, were my main sources of engagement. They each contributed to the why behind the what I wanted to do.
My service onboard the Taney was brief due to my selection for Command, but I continued to examine insights from that window in time.
It was incredible to realize how much my perspective had changed in the span of two weeks. Not only had I met the love of my life, but I had a completely refined purpose for what I wanted to accomplish, and more importantly, why it was important for me to do it.
Searching for How
Anna and I were married almost four years later, having survived living separately in three different states, one U. S. Territory (St. Thomas, USVI), exchanging dozens of passion-filled letters and collecting thousands of Frequent Flyer Miles.
It was worth every second.
My career direction at that point, though, was only two thirds complete. I knew what I wanted to do and why I wanted to do it.
The question remained how I would fulfill an inherent desire to influence through expression, along with an opportunity to devote my energy and effort to continuous learning and improvement.
Thus began a perpetual process of refinement: change, followed by introspection and examination; followed by more change, more examination; followed by . . . more change, more examination.
Most of the changes have been self-initiated; some the result of circumstances beyond my control. The one constant throughout the process has been a deep appreciation for the value of each experience. Every change has been made moving in the right direction – forward.
They have all featured an examination of insights, fueling discovery of what matters most, and identifying how to best fulfill my overall purpose in life.
And there have been some notes captured along the journey, key elements of behavior to be considered when pursuing your true purpose.
Some Key Considerations
Filter Passion Into Purpose
One of the more trendy and popular questions today is also one of the most mis-leading: “What are you passionate about?”
Passion is a feeling, something better described as a varying level of enthusiasm.
While it is helpful to know how to direct energy and effort to meet a specific need or desire, passion does not identify your true purpose.
For example: The service industry looks for people with a passion for serving others. But there are literally hundreds of ways of accomplishing that. It’s important to understand which position offers you the greatest fulfillment in return.
Experience Fuels Potential
Experience in a specific field or discipline represents potential . . . the capacity to become something in a future state.
When considering a specific job or position, recognize potential as your point of entry. Continue to examine how elements from your background impact skill development moving forward.
These are the lessons you’ve gleaned. Use them to help guide your actions and decisions as you grow.
Questions Signal Openness
Asking questions indicates a willingness to learn and signals an openness to personal growth and awareness through new ideas, innovative thought, or creative insight.
No one should feel above the need to ask questions.
I was chatting with an experienced executive the other day who is moving into a new CEO position. Her questions were simple and straightforward:
How much time should I allow before enacting changes? Should I meet with current staff as a group or individually? Would you share personal observations or solicit input first?
These questions didn’t indicate a lack of personal acumen. Instead, they represented a level of professional maturity, based on experience, that was open to exploring a full range of possibilities and direction.
There is something magical about the Harvest, living proof of Mother Nature’s mad alchemy as seeds once sown produce abundance for the year ahead.
Gratitude for the insight provided is critical to focusing energy and effort where it is needed most, increasing potential for another successful season, and many more to come.
The same thought process applies in every change to a new job or position: Be grateful for your experience, recognize lessons learned and use them to fine tune energies and efforts.
Your ultimate destination lies in discovering your true purpose, but don’t forget to enjoy the journey . . . you never know who you might meet on your last weekend in town.
This is Tall Tim, and I am At Your Service!