This week’s book must have been sent to me as a small joke by the powers that be. The Seed by Jon Gordon was the perfect reality check at the perfect time. Over the past two months I watched my friends begin to move on with the Peace Corps. This sent my attitude into a slump. My original passion eluded me. I thought, maybe its time to make a change.
In Seeds, the main character (Josh) finds himself in a similar situation. His performance at work began to slump. His attitude began to be so bad at work that his boss needed to sit him down and tell him to take a two week vacation in order to decide whether he wanted to return to work or pursue another path. He was shocked and relieved at the same time. The two weeks allowed him to reflect on how he was led to the work that he was doing. On the first day of his vacation he was given a seed by a wise stranger. The stranger told him that he will find his purpose once he finds the place to plant the seed. After this chance encounter he spent the next few days reflecting on his past which brought him to strangers, family members, and friends which provided clues on his next steps towards finding somewhere to plant the seed.
One of the most influential conversations was with a man named George. This conversation took place while Josh was flying first class to a job interview. The older and wiser man told Josh a story about when he was younger and in a similar position. He mentioned that his mistake was searching for happiness as if he would find it when he switched organizations. He also mentioned, moving on is not a bad thing, if it is for the right reasons. Most importantly, George told Josh that if the signs are not clear, you must answer a few simple questions: Have I learned all that I am meant to learn in my current job? Is there still an opportunity for me to grow? Have I put my heart and soul into my work to be the best that I can be? Have I reached my full potential?
Here is my reflection of these questions on my current situation:
Have I learned all that I am meant to learn in my current job?
There are still many different skills I can learn over the next year. Language is one of them. Although, I am at an Intermediate-high level with my Ukrainian, I want to begin to learn Russian. Russian will help my career bigly and emersion is the best way to learn a language.
Is there still an opportunity for me to grow?
Over the next year I will focus on sharpening my program management skills and training skills. The more I think about my career, the more I see that my experience in the Peace Corps has set me on a path to work in International Development. Be it at the State Department, NGO, or Private sector. I have been fortune enough to coach volunteers who are developing project, and train over 50 volunteer in project design and management. I plan to focus on this skill as I become a master in the craft. I have also been given the chance to widen my organizational development sphere to some options in Kyiv. This will help me grow my skills an OD specialist. Lastly, networking is huge. I will have more time to grow my network around Ukraine.
Have I put my heart and soul into my work to be the best that I can be?
At times this answer is yes. At times this answer is no. Nevertheless, I am not to sure what the right answer is here. I understand what the author was getting at when posing this question. However, if you have put your heart and soul into something and are unhappy in the present, it may be a sign to change. Whereas, if you have not put your all into a situation and are unhappy. Maybe, the reason you are unhappy is because you have not given it your all. Either way, this question still leaves me in disarray. Not sure if that’s good.
Have I reached my full potential?
There are times when it feels as if I have accomplished all I can in such a small city. I look back at winner awards and finishing successful projects. However, that is all thwarted when I think about my personal potential. There was a blog I wrote about 2 months ago which detailed why I wanted to stay in Ukraine. One of the reasons was my ability to test my skills and grow. Like a scientist in a lab. I can test what works and what does not work. I can use my situation to study my skills and life in general. I will grow stronger with each lesson learned.
Josh cites his reason for staying as a chance to live in the present and put his heart and soul into the job he currently has while trusting that his purpose will be revealed to him in time and happiness will find him. In the moment he must be patient as he learns, grows, and serves. Many times (especially Millennials) people want results fast, but life does not work that way. We must apply our strengths, gifts, and abilities to our current situation full heartedly in the service of something greater than ourselves. Life and God does not work on our 21st century schedule. That is why patience and persistence is a precursor to finding our purpose.
The author explains in a conversation between Josh and the person who originally gave him the seed. We need to realize that our purpose is better found when we devote ourselves to a stream of something greater than ourselves. In my opinion, we are mistaken if we are constantly trying to find our meaning within ourselves or follow our passions. We must serve a higher purpose and bring our passion with us each day and our meaning will be defined through our actions in the moment.
One of my greatest mentors was my Grandfather. There were two types of conversations, a deep journey into the soul or silent glances in anticipation for the next deep conversation (there was really no in between). When I was about 24 years old we were discussing my life and what I wanted to do with it. I did not have an answer for him. However, I told him that no matter where life takes me I know that at the end of it all; it will be like a painting. And, while I am not Picasso, I have a strong value system and a fierce passion within me. With every action I am contributing to my masterpiece.