Two Fridays ago, I left my career. I spent the past 11 years building a corporate responsibility platform at the same company; prior to going corporate, I worked in the nonprofit sector for six years.
Now I am home with my children, ages seven and five. Several days into this full-time parent thing, I’m happy to report we’re all adjusting well. I have eaten breakfast and lunch and dinner with my kids. I have made more trips to the local YMCA pool in the past two weeks than in the past five years. I have made pillow forts and eaten Otter Pops and crafted home-made superhero capes. I have driven down multiple freeways belting out Hamilton tunes, with two little people providing back-up from their booster seats.
For a long time, work was everything to me. I had to keep moving and grooving and priming and climbing. I also loved my work — I mean, every day, I had the honor and privilege of pursuing social impact and meeting amazing change-makers the world over.
Work remains important to me, especially work from which I can derive inspiration. I feel beyond lucky that I get this time with my kids — and time to revisit what brings me joy, reaffirm what motivates me, and re-center myself.
At the end of the day, I want to bring my whole self to my family and to my work. In the next chapter of my career, I still want to be a change-maker. I also know for sure that I want to be moved each day. I don’t know how that will manifest itself over these next few months, but here are the actions I’m committing to so that I can renew my mind and spirit:
Action #1: Go to the margins.
I find it heartbreaking that we are no longer a society that cares for itself. There are too many who pursue income and power over kindness and compassion. It’s no wonder that the world over, we are seeing an urgency of inequality and an urgency of injustice.
I’m a superfan of Father Greg Boyle, of Homeboy Industries, and I absolutely love hearing him say: “Go to the margins.”
Indeed, the best way we can tackle inequality is to go to the margins and be with the people who are routinely left out.
It is a fundamental human aspiration to live in and live with dignity. No doubt we each have stories of when we weren’t treated with dignity. In my own life, those times plain stunk. But to live every day outside of dignity? How can we let that happen?
We need compassionate, competent and courageous leaders to fight for a just society — to go to the margins and embrace kinship. We need conviction to stand up for what is right and dismantle the barriers that exclude.
Action #2: Seek inspiration.
I’m a better person — in all aspects of my life — when I seek inspiration. It’s easy and safe to be normal, to exist with the status quo. It’s a lot harder to seek and find inspiration — but if you want to be a change agent, it’s absolutely mandatory.
How can we seek inspiration?
Here are my thoughts:
— By being idea hunters
— By reading books
— By meeting and talking to people different than you
— By staying healthy — mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically
— By being present
Our culture is one obsessed with measuring talent and ability. Most likely, there is no one at your workplace or in your life saying: “Get out there and find inspiration!”
So we must give ourselves this gift. Inspiration can propel us from apathy and can transform the way we perceive our own capabilities.
Action #3: Pursue innovation.
This is a must. Innovation can make things radically better; it can create tremendous value.
But are we really being innovative? Are we asking others what they need in order to make their lives better?
In our roles as caring human beings, we need to start asking ourselves these questions. Furthermore, innovation goes hand-in-hand with collaboration — they feed and build upon each other. And so we have to figure out how to get along with each other so that we can work together to make things better.
This summer, I will weave a life that includes these three actions. I will soak up my children. I will embrace the quiet moments. I will look around me with refreshed wonder. I will stay present. And yes, oh yes, I will keep on singing in the car.
I will find my creativity again — and be moved.