There was an ad running on television a couple of years ago that always caused me to stop and watch it. It featured forty years of photos with narration that goes, “This is Paul. He’s been a Quarryman, Beatle, Wing, poet, painter, father, frontman, producer, business mogul and if that weren’t enough, a knight. The key is, never stop doing what you love.”
In many ways, that seems truly radical. We all know that Doing What You Love is not a course offered by many schools. But the notion that love is the key to discovering multiple parts of ourselves is one really far out message.
There was a time, of course, when it was assumed that a person could be many different things. During the period known as the Renaissance, when the creative spirit was in full bloom, it was not unusual for an individual to be a poet, businessowner, artist, soldier, linguist and lover.
Although such thinking fell out of fashion (and with it came less creative thinking), all sorts of people have told me they always suspected they were in possession of a Renaissance soul. I believe we all are and that feeding that soul is an exercise in love.
Love Me Do
Love and work sounds like an impossible combination to many people, but it’s the starting point of all great (and many small) undertakings.
“The real purpose of work,” says Claude Whitmyer, founder of the Center for Good Work, “is to give us an opportunity to practice being human—to discover everything we are and all that we can be, both as individuals and as members of a community.”
It’s not unusual for me to receive messages from frustrated people who feel stuck because they don’t know what It is for them. Nothing they’ve tried seems to satisfy.
The passport out of this discouraging state is to step back and give serious thought to purpose. To never stop doing what you love, you have to start doing what you love.
Yup, those same puzzling questions that philosophers have discussed for centuries still matter.
One of the best explanations of purposeful vocation comes from Patricia Ryan-Madson. She wrote, “It is possible to seek and find work that consistently supports some purpose of mine. For example, my purpose may be to make the world a more beautiful place. To that end, I may choose any number of jobs that focus my time and talents on creating aesthetic environments.
“I can serve that purpose, not only when I work as a graphic designer, but also in the way I set the breakfast table for my children. I can serve that purpose by picking up trash in the park or in my neighborhood. I may serve that purpose as well when I refrain from rough language or gossip.
“So the answer to the question of purpose precedes and informs all that follows in the search for my true work.”
Here, There and Everywhere
The aforementioned Paul knew from early on what his bigger intention was. He explains, “See, my trick in life is to get away from having a job. That’s been my guiding light.”
Not working for someone else may not be the only way to feed our Renaissance soul, but it’s the best way I’ve seen to develop multiple talents.
At the same time all the recent emails of frustration were rolling in, I was also deluged with messages from numerous new entrepreneurs who had a different story to tell. The common thread in each of their accounts was that their business was teaching them new skills or opening them to things they’d been avoiding.
One woman said she was finding herself in leadership roles for the first time in her life. Another is doing her first media interviews. Over and over, they told me about discovering the unmapped territory inside themselves.
“When you work ,” goes the well-known passage from Kahlil Gibran, “you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. To love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret. All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.”