Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I spent the better part of the first 40-years of my life looking for a guru, that person who would just blow me away with her or his prescience, kindness, compassion, vision and guidance. The one who would give me the answers. Who would tell me what to do to get to that place where I finally felt like I had “made it.”
So many others I knew had found one and their lives seemed so much better, more directed and purposeful for it, but that never happened to me. I would attend lectures, teachings, seminars, trainings and retreats and, inevitably, end up leaving early because some combination of information, integrity, pace or delivery did not resonate. Why couldn’t I find that person?
It finally dawned upon me…
The person I was looking for was the one I would need to become.
That's not to say I don't seek out teachers and desire to learn. Others can offer guidance and insight. Classical texts like the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, the Talmud, the Koran, The Tao De Ching and the occasional Bazooka Joe comic lend intelligence, humility and humor to the process of discovery. I am and will always be an eternal student.
But, I'm not driven by the quest to find and place upon a pedestal any single teacher who will make everything okay, show me the light or bless my decisions and actions and diminish uncertainty.
Because, in the end, no one else can stand in my shoes.
No one else can enjoy or suffer the outcome of my decisions or actions.
No one else is better equipped to know me.
No one else can act but me.
Upon these realizations, I began to accept responsibility not only for my life to-date, but for the process of making it come alive from that point forward. Not for anyone else. For me. And, increasingly, for those I serve.
I continued to listen to conventional wisdom, but, realizing most who followed it ended up not more, but less fulfilled, I committed to forming my decisions another way. I adopted a standard that guides nearly every major business decision I make.
Will this career choice allow me to spend the greatest amount of time absorbed in activities and relationships that make me come alive, while surrounding myself with people I cannot get enough of and earning what I need to live well in the world?
And, I also realized much of what makes not only me, but most people come alive comes from a place of service and impact.
When I started making decisions from this place, the world seemed to increasingly become my partner in the career adventure of a lifetime.
Does that mean everything started to come easily? No.
In case you haven’t gathered, creating your life and livelihood to deliver maximum passion and prosperity is a gargantuan challenge.
But, it's not about whether it's hard or easy...it's about whether it's WORTH the effort.
And, the answer is a definitive yes. Especially since recent advances in technology have made possible options and opportunities that simply did not exist even a few short years ago. Launching and scaling a meaningful professional path while minimizing risk has become so much easier.
I can’t tell you where or how it’s going to end.
Frankly, taking full responsibility for the state of my life and happiness still scares the hell out of me on a pretty regular basis. Such is the nature of working the edge of convention and owning up to the inevitability of uncertainty.
But, it scares me far less than it would to turn my future over to someone else and simply hope for the best.
I have increasingly better-defined goals, core-qualities that are important to build around and experiences I want to bring to my and my family's lives. But I have also discovered the wonder that presents itself, seemingly spontaneously, when you consistently act in alignment with your authentic Self, then open to relationships and opportunities you never saw coming.
I cannot conduct the balance of my life in a vacuum of inevitable regret.
I cannot imagine the sorrow of leaving this Earth one day filled with visions of a life I dreamed of living, but never had the will to try.
And, I cannot rest with the notion that, in my actions, I might have taught my daughter to do the same.
Like Helen Keller said,
Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.
So. What are you waiting for?
Ball's in your court...
[This post was excerpted and expanded from my book, Career Renegade]
Jonathan Fields is the author of Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love. He writes and speaks on meaningful work, being a lifestyle entrepreneur and creativity at JonathanFields.com and is a twitter heavy-user at @jonathanfields