All too often, we feel that we are not living the fullness of our lives because we are not expressing the fullness of our gifts. Elle Luna
All you folks think you own my life, but you never made any sacrifice. All you folks think I got my price, at which I’ll sell all that is mine. I’m trying to protect what I keep inside, all the reasons why I live my life. Tracey Chapman
Caroline Center is a workforce development organization. So, it’s not a surprise that we think a lot about work. In fact, we’re a little obsessed with work. We think about work even when we’re not working. But, it’s not our jobs that we’re thinking about; it’s the work that our graduates will be doing when they complete the program and begin their new careers.
We think about what our trainees need to know and what they need to be able to do in order to be successful in their careers and lives. We think about whether we have given our graduates most, if not all, of what they will need to be able to confidently take the next big steps in their life’s journeys when the time comes. Sometimes, late at night, we think about whether we’re getting it all right.
Then, the morning comes, and we get up and go to work.
Well, not exactly. Going to work implies that work is someplace different than where we are, something apart from who we are – a place we can arrive at, rather than the space we are in. I like what Elle Luna says on this topic in her new book, The Crossroads of Should and Must. She asks, “What if who we are and what we do become one and the same? What if our work is so thoroughly autobiographical that we can’t parse the product from the person? What if . . . our job = our career = our calling?”
Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone at Caroline Center has reached the highest tier on Maslow’s pyramid to self-actualization or sees this work as “so thoroughly autobiographical that [he/she] can’t parse the product from the person,” but we are all somewhere on the continuum. We’re letting go of the Shoulds in life and getting to the Musts in life that Elle Luna talks about. And, we’re giving our trainees the confidence to do the same. Shoulds are how other people
want us to live our lives. The Musts are who we really are, what we believe, and the parts of life that call to us most deeply. The Musts are our passions – the ideas and ideals that we not only live for, but that truly make us feel alive.
At Caroline Center, if we only prepared women for sustainable careers that allowed them to leave low-wage jobs and the cruel limits that poverty imposes – and, we did this well – a lot of people would say, “you’re doing really good work.”
But, late at night, when we’re thinking about whether we really are getting it all right – whether we are truly and authentically answering our calling – somewhere inside, we want people to know that the work we do is not separate from who we are. And, we want employers to see a Caroline Center graduate and say to themselves – “Here’s a woman who’s learned to let go of all the Shoulds that were standing in her way; here’s a professional who is ready to live out the fullness of her gifts.”
Credits: July Railroad, Kate Hagerty & Dreamtime Sisters, Colleen Wallace Nungari