All the money you make will never buy back your soul.
~ Bob Dylan
Two junctures in my life represent true turning points that led me to my life work and to the creation of Future Works Institute. The first came at the pinnacle of my career as a Change Agent VP in charge of Turn-Arounds and New Business Development. The other came on an overcast afternoon as my house and everything I owned collapsed in flames.
I looked around my office, the highly coveted corner office that towered above 6th Avenue in New York’s bustling Manhattan. The lacquered furniture with brass trim glistened as the sun streamed in across my desk over piles of memoranda, research, and unanswered telephone messages. The sun warmed me. I leaned back in my executive chair. And wondered why I was there . . .
The “view from the top” was a lot different in the living than it had been in the dreaming.
My door was closed, but I could hear the familiar sounds: the chatter, the laughter, the phones ringing, the keyboards tapping. I’d gotten what I wanted, but at what cost? I was in a hurry, but where was I going? Where had the time gone? I was charging ahead to prove what? To whom?
I had the corner office. I was at the helm. I was the boss, the visionary leader. Now what?
Something was stirring in my belly . . . I had no words for it . . . dissatisfaction, edginess, burn-out, boredom, or something much deeper calling me forward . . .
That day long ago in my corner office marked the beginning of a new passage for me.
It was a descent into the canyon of transition. It was a dark and mysterious territory—completely uncharted. In truth, it was a midlife reclamation as I returned to the inner sacred.
The other compelling turning point flashed before me as I stood outside in the cold January air, watching flames devour my home and office. As the wooden beams and all my possessions crackled under the heat . . .
I took a deep breath, “It’s just stuff . . . only stuff. Let it go.” I had learned over the years that each transition—no matter how devastating—could be an invitation for a greater tomorrow. Traumatic events like a home fire or world tragedies like September 11th and intensifying natural disasters force us to look at what really matters and to reinvent to meet the challenges of our day.
With every transition, there is transformation, and often a greater connection to others and to our soul purpose. These events refine us and make us look more closely at ourselves, our relationships, and our place in the world. True greatness emerges from change.
I love the energy and powerful achievements of those who embrace transition—achievements forged from the fires. In the flames, I lost everything tangible but gained a greater commitment to transformation in the lives of others, envisioning always a Phoenix rising from life’s ashes.
The first step is the transformation of the individual. The individual transformed
will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people.
~ Dr. W.Edwards Deming