Following My Passion

by jon on April 21, 2012

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.

Yes, we could wear shorts and t-shirts to work!

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.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Bobby DeMuro April 22, 2012 at 1:38 am

You’re going to rock it over there, man. Thanks for having lunch today – your place is awesome. I’ve gotta move down to your side of town – we could be neighbors! The dogs would love it!

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Bobby DeMuro April 22, 2012 at 1:42 am

By the way, man – I know you made the right decision. Change means getting to something better, but it doesn’t necessarily mean leaving something bad to do it; it sounds like you left a good situation to arrive at an ever better one, that’s going to challenge you in ways you didn’t previously know. That’s a good thing. Just always evaluate it — if the new job is making you a better person to those around you, then you know it’s right for you!

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jon April 25, 2012 at 8:41 am

Thanks Bobby! As you mentioned before, it gets me on the path of where I want to be. And moves me forward. Thanks for your support!

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Katie McKiever April 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Love the post! I’m glad you got to tell this story. It’s great to see the team in the picture too. I miss everyone!

The next chapter in your life is going to rock your face off. I can’t wait to see how it transforms you.

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jon April 25, 2012 at 8:42 am

Thanks Katie! Thanks so much for always encouraging me to follow this work. You rock my face off! ha.

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Rock Hard treatd April 23, 2012 at 9:13 am

Great to see another fellow CRAVER following their passion in life. Best of luck and if you ever want to show off your drive and determination to the rest of the world with one of our t-shrits, which celebrate those of us brave soluls who are both Working and Playing HARD in order to live the life we crave, then visit us at http://www.rockhardtreats.com and use promo code “crave” to save 25% on any purchase of $19.94 or higher.
Good Luck and crave-on!

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jon April 25, 2012 at 8:43 am

Great, thanks for the info! I appreciate you reading the post!

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Nikki April 23, 2012 at 9:54 am

Whoo-hoo! Really exciting the news and this post is a great start to your new adventure. I look forward to watching the journey unfold.

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jon April 25, 2012 at 8:43 am

Thanks Nikki! You have been a huge part of getting me to this point in my life. I am lucky to have a friend like you.

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Nikki April 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

Whoo-hoo! Really exciting news and this post is a great start to your new adventure. I look forward to watching the journey unfold.

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Lauren July 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

This is so inspiring Jon! Good for you for realizing this and living out your dream and purpose. :) I am so inpsired by this.

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jon July 19, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Thank you Lauren!!! I really appreciate the kind words.

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