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  • 21 years ago I took an intensive workshop that made me question what I do for a living. It forced me to really look at my job, and to figure out why I was there, and what I was going to do with the opportunities that were there. I was ready to walk away from it, if that's what I needed to do to become more fulfilled. I clearly wasn't (fulfilled by my work) at the time.

    But, it became apparent that I really needed to become more mindful in my work. I dedicated myself to being present on the job. Even though I had a boss, at the time, who did not value my work or my efforts, I realized it wasn't about her - it was about me.

    My job had a public health mission, and I dedicated myself to be about that mission. One of the outcomes of the workshop was that you determined 3 qualities that you would become a disciple of, and you'd devote yourself to those qualities. The 3 that I came up with were Excellence, Leadership, and Supportiveness. I became a disciple of these qualities, and have remained so ever since.

    Since then, It's never been about me and my relationship to my boss, or my peers or those that I lead. Yes, those relationships are critically important, and I do cultivate them, and apparently have gotten pretty good at that.

    But what I am focused on, the question I ask myself each day, is "how have I done in relationship to my discipleship? Have I been about excellence in all that I do? If not, why not?"

    I don't beat myself up with these questions, and I may not always like the answers I give myself. I just ask the questions, and try to be honest with the answers. "How have I been as a leader today? What kind of a leader have I been? What leadership qualities can I improve upon? What am I doing to improve them?"

    And, finally, "How have I been supportive today? What methods could I develop to make the job a little bit easier for my folks? What about our customers/stakeholders? Have I talked with them lately? Am I delivering what they need to be whole? Do I even know what that is? Is it realistic? If not, why not? What barriers stand in the way of them haveing a better experience? What am I doing about those barriers?".

    The rest takes care of itself. In the 3 year time period after I began this process, my salary tripled and my impact went from regional to national, and eventually, to global. I've gone from an entry-level clerk position to a senior executive level in a 10,000 employee organization.

    But, it has never been about me getting ahead, or moving up the ladder. It has always been about excellence, leadership, and supportiveness. And yes, each morning riding into work on the metro, I am so excited about the opportunities that will present themselves to me this day, I can hardly wait to get into my office. What new challenge will fall out of the woodwork today? How will I meet it? New opportunities. They make my job completely worth the fruits of my labors.

    I love what I do, and I love the impact that I have. I'm really glad that I once questioned why am I here, and found a few answers that led me to stay here. I have never stopped questioning myself, and I just follow where the answers lead me.

    I was eligible to retire a year and a half ago - but I ain't going anywhere for at least another 10, maybe 15 years. I'm having too damn much fun at what I do.

    (Picture is the view from my office window)
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