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What is Your Life's Work?Answer the Big Question about What Really Matters...and Reawaken the Passion for What You Do
By Bill Jensen
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Bill Jensen
All right reserved.
"I want to reach inside myself through the muck and mire and live more with love and less with fear. I'm tired of waiting for that right person or company to recognize the talent that I can offer."
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"I'm a workaholic. I can't remember a time when I wasn't striving for full-throttle success. As it turns out, I failed in one critical area. I had turned my back on life."
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"The opposite of play is not work -- it's psychosis."
We've all been there. We've felt feelings like these letter-writers have, and thought the same thoughts.
• • •
Most of us already know what really matters. We just let all the daily excuses and conflicting priorities cloud our judgment. I find this most everywhere I go as I research how we get stuff done. Yet the people who are truly focused on what matters rarely have this problem. They know how to listen to themselves -- how to quiet all the outside noise long enough tohear their own heartbeat and their own wisdom.
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No one gives you inner knowing, but here's a chance to discover it.
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Hear what you think as you read these letters. Allow each one to speak for a portion of your own life. Risk seeing yourself.
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Face what you fear; it's safe here. Get grounded; others are like you. Let go; nobody's watching. Suspend judgment; other people's Aha's can reveal a lot. Find your passion; write it down. Laugh at your own excuses; a sense of humor will make Discoveries 2-5 a lot easier! Rewrite the script, because you can.
Let No One Tell You
It Can't Be Done
Work: Helps and believes in society's rejects, where most of us would not Lisa Hesmondhalgh has survived several lifetimes of renovating human psyches. As a police officer in Dade County, Florida, she learned the importance of performing CPR on a corpse. During her years as a prison guard, before she turned social worker, she discovered that shooting to stop and shooting to kill have more to do with luck than skill.
TO ALL MY CHILDREN,
Before I was 25, my sons and daughters were rapists, car jackers, burglars and robbers. I watched the true birth of my favorite child -- on the day he turned 50 -- from behind peeling beige paint and pockmarked prison bars. He stood in the hallway with a cardboard box ringed with twine. I opened the heavy metal door and stepped in to meet him.
"I want you to take care of yourself and the life you have left," I said. "There's nothing you're leaving here that matters at all."
I put my hand out and he shook it gently. He picked up the box, turned to walk outside, and said, "And you. Promise me you'll leave before they change you, before they get you, too."
Keith was being paroled after 28 years in prison, after 12 years on Death Row for murdering a store clerk with a shotgun. He had earned his G.E.D. and an Associate's degree. He became a journeyman plumber. He would eventually marry, keep a good blue-collar job, go to church twice each week, and probably never think of me again.
Before I was 30, my sons and daughters were crack addicts, embezzlers, child molesters, thieves and forgers. I went to their houses every week to make certain they were behaving. I went to see their teachers, their bosses, their lovers. They would telephone me after midnight when their uncles beat them with baseball bats and in the morning when they needed a ride to English-as-a-Second-Language class. They would come to see me when their last pair of shoes melted at their day-labor roofing job.
And when I was 35, my sons and daughters changed again. They were crumbled and torn and splintered and lost. My children were burned, raped, rented to ex-boyfriends for the weekend, and fed on cockroach cereal with bloodied heroin spoons.
I would find my children new homes with new families. And learn that their new families were forcing my daughters to give nude massages and were paying my sons to have sex with neighbors. I would find other homes, and my children had nightmares that were too loud, daymares with explosive hoofbeats -- tempests of memories. My children had tears louder than their screams.
This letter is to those I have lived my life for. The convicted felons, the probationers and parolees, the ones who were called "clients" by my peers and treated like sewage.
Every introduction speech from me began: "I will not call you a client. You are a criminal. But I promise that I will treat you as a person, as an individual. From now on, you will not fail unless you want to."
Offenders are the people you see in the next grocery aisle. They stand in the church pew behind you. And for ten years I was proud that I was never threatened, cursed, or assaulted by anyone on my caseload ...
Excerpted from What is Your Life's Work? by Bill Jensen Copyright © 2006 by Bill Jensen. Excerpted by permission.
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