Tuesday, December 1, 2009

North Star Recipes

August 10, 2009.

8:57 a.m.

The telephone does what it does.


Our friend from Monday's TSB post is on the line.

After quitting a job the previous month as a call centre professional, "D" is focused on finding a North Star career, determined to discover a company or cause to believe in. But, impatience has set in over an assignment a mentor has handed out.

"D" is demanding answers.

Without knowing the questions to ask:

"Look I don't know what this is all about, because if this is just going to be a waste of time, I'd rather know now and be done with it. I’m pretty good at seeing things for how they really are. Like calling a “spade a spade” so to speak. All I know is that I was in a job that was going nowhere for me. Did you notice that I said job and not career? I never viewed what I did as anything more than job that would probably lead onto another job. Inside of me I longing for something more. I often say to myself that there’s got to be something more out there for me".

"Where is this path going to lead me? I’m not an overly spiritual person. I don’t have much faith in anything to be honest with you and that includes me. I have let myself down too many times over the years. Today is different though. Today I want to stand up and be counted. I want today to be the day where I did something to be proud of. I just don't want to be jerked around".

After downloading those thoughts, "D" is caught off guard by the next question.

"Do you honestly expect to solve in mere minutes what has taken you the better part of two decades to create?"

In many respects, "D's" story is no different from Warren's.

About a decade ago, Warren experienced the same emotions before walking away from a safe, secure job as a federal litigator. It all started when the Ivy League grad started to dial in and listen to a voice that had been whispering all along.

Warren discovered his North Star the same way everyone else does.

It was sitting there.

Inside him.

All along.

After those first awkward, shaky, tentative, first steps, Warren became known as the best cake baker in his Washington D.C. neighbourhood. Then he became famous throughout the city. He was later featured in several publications, had his own show on the Food Network and eventually appeared on "Oprah".

Stemming from within, this passion has manifested in the form of stores called "CakeLove" with five locations, three in Maryland and two in Virginia. Warren also has a cookbook titled “CakeLove: How to Bake Cakes from Scratch,” and will add to his collection with “United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State,” set to be published in May 2010.

Your story might be no different from the one now being experienced by "D" or being lived and celebrated by Warren Brown.

But, no matter what stage you are at, the bigger question centres on what you are committed to doing about seeking and finding your North Star at work. And if loving your work sounds like a luxury you can ill afford, think again. As a biological organism, feeling great about what you do is vital for both well-being and effectiveness. When you hate what you do, you lug around the chemical reality of negativity, as it festers and chews at your insides. Slowly eroding your ability and willingness to be a great teammate. Silently stifling your desire to create, initiate and imaginate.

Have you determined beyond the shadow of your own self-doubt what gets you out of bed in the morning? If you really stop to think about it, you have already displayed some skills or talent, shown some kind of aptitude. Or you may have flashed your brilliance back in elementary school. Have you always been a capable writer, speaker, artist, athlete, organizer, marble player or friend? Have you been good at analysing situations or numbers, connecting with people, gardening, singing, baking or building stuff?

What do you read about? Spend hours following online? What magazines or blogs do you look forward to reading? What bookstore sections do you browse?

Are you willing to experiment? Step up and volunteer? Attempt those awkward first steps your inner voice is telling you? Even if it's in the privacy of your own home? Can you put fear and anxiety in park and drive through the barrier of self-doubt by asking the question, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

Will you invest the time to find a career you can bite into or waste it on jobs that rot you to the core? Turn your passion into a business and make a living doing it? Like Warren, it could take years, but if you’re having fun along the way, isn't that what’s most important?

"D" was told straight up this North Star stuff wasn't going to be easy. The process (and it is a process - not an event) requires an unusual amount of quiet reflection and soul-searching. Then it's on to mustering courage, the willingness to experiment (usually disguised as failures and setbacks) and the patience to stay committed while out there on a limb, heading to the skinniest part of the branch.

Because, that's where the apple is.

Before hanging up that day, "D" knew what course needed following.

Knew what had to be done.


Do you?

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”



Matt LeBlanc said...

Great empowering post !!

Jaye said...

This is very thought provoking, Gair. I know it will inspire many of your readers to really take the time to search within themselves to find what they are passionate about.