Aren’t We All Seeking Transformation?

This morning I met a woman who worked an entire career as a for-hire photographer. She smiled as she said she is now retired. When I asked what she plans to do with her retirement, she replied: “Do it my way.”

She was clearly so happy to be at this new stage of life. But I’ll admit, the woman was getting on in years, and I wondered why we accept this idea that we have to wait, let most of our vibrant years pass, before we get to do things “my way.”

I mean, she’s an artist with a keen eye – and clearly, she built a career on people hiring her and paying for the perspective she brought to the lens. So why didn’t she feel empowered to do  it her way all those many working years?

After that event, I drove across town to meet with a client who talked about how Walsh College, where he is Chief Academic Officer, provides opportunities for transformation. That’s a refreshing and revolutionary way to look at a business education.

The thing is, everyone wants transformation. They want to be fill-in-the-blank: happier, wealthier, less stressed, more in love, etc., etc., etc.

Are we waiting for transformation to be delivered to us on a platter? Why do we feel we can’t make it happen right here, right now?

The thought of a person spending years in a job or a career where they are not engaged, where they are not happy, where they yearn to do something else or be in another place, makes me want to cry. What a waste of a life! We all have a unique gift to bring to the world; why not put it out there right now and see what happens?

Me and my wonderful children at last Monday night's Red Wings game
Me and my wonderful children at last Monday night’s Red Wings game

Yesterday, my son came to me and shared that he had received a devastating grade on a project. The way he remembered it, it happened because he was up so late doing homework, I made him go to bed before he could finish. The way I remembered it was that he procrastinated doing his homework and didn’t leave enough time to get everything done.

This Sunday he’ll be 13 – growing up, but still a kid. Yesterday, with the spell of warm weather an energizing inspiration, my kids played outside throwing balls, kicking remnants of snow, laughing and yelling and having a ball. Late into the night my daughter remembered she had homework to catch up on.

I was torn. Do I make them sit down the minute they get home from a long school day and continue to sit so they can finish their work?

Or do I encourage them to run free and drink in the inviting spring air and revel in being outdoors with the late-afternoon sun painting their faces? Which one builds a better life?

Both, of course. Transformation can’t happen with the nose to the grindstone and it can’t happen from play alone.

We need the careful alignment of both, in equal and constant measure, to build the kind of life – and the kind of person – we really want to be.

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