So I have some exciting news for you. Yesterday was my last day at the commercial real estate consulting firm I have been at for the last seven years. It sure has been amazing time over there, and I started when I was 24! It was everything you could ask for, and I will really miss my co-workers! They will always be like family to me.
However, what I write about in this blog is really my true passion in life. And I had started to feel sort of conflicted by telling people to follow their passion, but I hadn’t made the the big leap on doing something like this as a full time job.
So a few months ago I connected with an extraordinary man named Mike Whitehead at the Center for Intentional Leadership. It is interesting that I met Mike at TED Charlotte, or a conference about “ideas worth spreading.” From our very first conversation, both Mike and his company personified everything I believed about how to live an amazing life. They also felt that everything matters with the culture we create at home, at work, in our community and with our health. And every time I had a conversation with Mike or someone else in his company, I left completely energized like I was ready to change the world.
Around this time, I had been thinking about how I could get my message of authenticity, self-awareness, connection, and healthy living out to young people. I thought that everyone is focusing on training our senior leaders but what about young people around the high school and college age? While they aren’t in senior roles yet, I believe they have the chance to make these concepts really tip in our world.
It turns out Mike Whitehead had just started a pro bono effort to improve the culture at Myers Park High School and was also very interested in getting this work to young people. Mike had selected a very diverse group of 55 kids who wanted to bring positive change to the high school. So I started observing his sessions with the kids, and something amazing started to happen. The kids were put in an environment where they could really be themselves, and they started to talk about unity and reaching out to others. At one particular session they committed to eating lunch with someone different from them and wanted to put up positive post-it notes around their school. I was on cloud nine every time I left one of these meetings, because I started to see my dream become a reality.
However, I still didn’t know how I would make this type of career happen. Should I just continue working on the blog and work in commercial real estate? Then I attended one of Mike’s seminars called Quest for Personal Leadership with eight other amazing people. I gained so much clarity over those three days. What I saw in myself was that I needed to give a career in leadership development a shot. I had been waiting for some opportunity to find me, yet it was right there in front of me. I longed to make a greater impact in our world, so I just need to take a chance.
But even after all this clarity this was a really tough decision. I was in a senior role at my company with a lot of safety and security. We worked very hard as a team to get the company to a place where we could be successful again after some really tough years in a down market. And I wanted to be apart of the future there. But I couldn’t ignore what my heart was telling me. I knew I was about to take a big pay cut and potentially move to a role where nothing was certain. However, my security was knowing that I was really following my passion. I also felt that as a single man, I wouldn’t be the best person to my future wife and family until I really went after this. I thought this was my own way of being an example. So I made the leap.
I accepted a position as a consultant with the Center for Intentional Leadership, and I start May 16th. I will learn and immerse myself in their methods of team, culture and leadership development over the next several months. They specifically work with organizations across the country in a series of engagements including seminars, coaching, speaking and other approaches that align people with desired outcomes, core values, and fundamental purpose for a significant increase in results. I will work with all kinds of businesses, non-profits, etc., but I will also be responsible for developing their programming for young people. And I couldn’t be more excited.
And you might ask, how am I feeling about this move? Well I will miss my current co-workers and clients dearly, but I know we will stay in touch. This move is giving me a certain sense of freedom I haven’t had in a long time. I haven’t even started yet but to know I will be in this work all day is an amazing feeling. And being around Mike and his team will certainly move me forward as a person.
So I have my usual challenge for you today. What is it in life that you are really passionate about? What have you been thinking about for a long time but just unsure of where it will lead? Keep taking time to figure out what that is for you. Connect with people in those areas, experiment and schedule time to learn more about your passion. Because I need you with me…co-creating a culture where one plus one is more than two. Have a wonderful weekend.