Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Life-Changing Day

Today I experienced one of those epiphanies wrapped like an unexpected gift, an insight teeming with internal joy and unleashing a subtle trickle of tears.

I had already been contemplating how I might take my writing, speaking and coaching endeavors to another level, to move from the transactional to the influential—from a “doer” to a “thought leader.” Today I embraced a rare Saturday opportunity to spend several hours by myself in a bookstore, always an incubator of inspiration. My goal was to use this quality time to press toward further clarity on reaching this higher floor, with the hope of a breakthrough.

Barely 45 minutes into my bookstore musing, I was perusing a copy of the Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers book The Power of Myth. While reading phrases such as the whole earth bloomed like a sacred place and the soul’s high adventure (is) the quest of mortals to grasp the reality of God, the floodgates of insight opened with psychic violence. I had to step back in order to avoid hindering the raging passage.

What presented itself was yet another delicate synthesis, a vision of how to bridge two strong areas of interest rather than limiting myself to an either-or approach. This vision united two loves and made them singular, much in the same way that two souls become one at the marriage altar or the untrained manner in which a parent with any degree of soul can equally adore both of his children.

The revealed synthesis brought together my love and natural instincts for a wide umbrella I will loosely call the “arts” (and here I include spirituality, myths, motifs, music, film, visual arts, literature, and so forth); and the shaping of organizational life (through organizational development work such as leadership development, coaching, training, mentoring, and so forth).

The sacred life and the business/non-profit life, coming together with the ability to form and influence one another for the sake of progress; personal or corporate mission/purpose fulfillment; and sheer human delight.

This is not a new concept, but one needing fresh expressions in conjunction with the search for meaning and navigation of rapid change that has infected so many of us. In a previous blog entry, I identified my “life mission” as leveraging words to help others thrive and discover eternal truths, and today’s epiphany added some arms and legs to a focused, niche approach for just how I might do this.

And it reminded me of how I am already doing it. Dramatic sketches utilized in the context of business training, such as the “Superman” skit I wrote and performed last year for the entire middle management team at my company. Raphael’s School of Athens painting as the central image for the January 2007 launching of a new series of classes at work called the School of Leadership Arts. Numerous anecdotes and quotes from various thinkers, peppered into classes I teach and coaching moments with leaders. In a sometimes raw and sometimes refined sense, I have been doing this for years, but now these inclinations and joyful behaviors come into clearer context as what I might do best.

My time in the bookstore also reminded me of why I love what I love. Why I cherish a deep conversation, devour books, keep watching Star Wars films, play the soundtrack of Les Miserables and the classical piece Adagio for Strings over and over, and am desperate to more fully get my arms around the works of the Greeks, Romans and Renaissance artists. Why I love to write short and longer pieces that in some fashion employ metaphors or ancient references that invite people to their own present-day a-ha moments.

Needless to say, I purchased the Campbell and Moyers book.

I am competent and passionate in the arenas of writing, teaching, facilitating, speaking and coaching, and want to achieve excellence in each of these. I would like to empower such a move with action steps such as further professional business training; individual study; quality relationships; the insights and skills offered by the successes and failures of sheer experience and practice; and the earning of a doctorate degree—all while continuing to write books and articles that influence rather than simply inform. Keeping one foot in the business/non-profit world (regardless of the industry) and slowly extending another foot into the academy, I hope to be of wise service to both.

At times of exhaustion I feel that I want to sneak off to an island or mountain somewhere and just write, but I keep getting drawn to the shaping of organizational life and the equipping of others.

Perhaps I should pay closer attention to how my feet take me toward community rather than isolation. I do wish I had more time to write, and cannot ignore or justify this restlessness in an effort to invalidate my feelings. But I am coming to understand how my interactions with community add layers of fine gold to the wealth of the words I might compose. After all, my personal faith acknowledges that God in his triune nature is community, and that the souls of mortals (as Campbell says) do indeed thirst to grasp his reality.

Recently I wrote an article about a Tampa, Fla., man who spends several nights per week serving homeless persons. Once homeless himself, Doug Brown has been engaged in his ministry for 25 years. A colleague describes him as “a man who has found his passion.”

I feel that I have found my passion. But it is not altogether a new discovery, like embarking upon an unseen world. It more closely resembles the slow unveiling of that aforementioned gift, one crisp piece of wrapping paper at a time, one layer of the onion per moment. I have recognized and tasted the numerous elements and possibilities of my passion for many years, but now am reveling in the fact that my spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual drivers are unified in a vocational identity that serves real human and societal needs while serving God.

I only hope that I feel the same way tomorrow!

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At 11:14 AM , Blogger Margaret Feinberg said...

Sounds like you picked up that book at an opportune time. m

At 2:05 PM , Blogger John Michael De Marco said...

You just never know when the right book is waiting for you...

At 5:13 AM , Anonymous Dave Morgan said...

Funny, I have that book as well. It's on my every growing list of books to read. In addition, there is a PBS DVD program by them.

Anyway, thanks for the inspiration to seek and achieve higher and higher work, family, and spiritual goals.


At 12:34 PM , Blogger John Michael De Marco said...

I'd love to see the PBS program as well. Another book for you to read in all of your spare time, Dave!

At 8:19 AM , Blogger Matthew Cornell said...

Terrific post - I very much appreciate the life-changing impact of a great book or idea. I read one and ended up quitting jobs, changing careers, starting blogging, etc. Thanks!

At 11:10 AM , Blogger John Michael De Marco said...

I'm supposed to chat with a Humanities PhD program director today to brainstorm more ideas about drawing strong threads between organizational development work and the humanities.


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