Greg’s Story: Purposeful Engagement

greg

In 2013 I had just recently returned from a week long pilgrimage to Iona Scotland with my wife Janet. Iona is often described as a “thin place.” I personally wasn’t looking for nor expecting a spiritual encounter but by the time we had embarked on the ferry to leave the island I knew that the world I was returning would not be the same. The validation of a long career, the material attributes of an upper middleclass life had begun to loosen their grip on defining who I was.  I returned to home and work well rested and discontented. I could not undo whatever it was that changed in me. It was Janet who recommend that I chat with Jon.  She had taken a class from Jon at The Seattle School and thought his approach as a transition guide might be a good fit.

I walked in to Jon’s office both discontented with where I was and unable to describe where I wanted to go. The future was an opaque fog and I was carrying with me this sense that any prior success was “happenstance” – the luck at once being in the right place at the right time.  What was transformational for me was creating a new narrative out of my personal history and being able to own it. That new narrative was both redemptive and empowering. Life didn’t just happen to you, meaning was created by purposefully engaging the world with the talents and characteristic that were unique to you.  That changing narrative also embolden me to continue the conversation outside of Jon’s office. My wife and my friends became part of the journey and trusted advisors.

Late last summer I realized that I needed to leave my job of 18 years.  I also knew that I needed to take a sabbatical to rest and regroup.  After 6 months of preparation I gave my notice and took early retirement. I am currently using this time to rest, study, reflect and to push myself outside of my comfort zone. In August I had an opportunity to study Spanish for three weeks in Ecuador. Spanish proved so more difficult than I had imagined but I did succeed in pulling myself out of a world that I understood and enriching how I see myself and others. I am currently working pro bono with a non-profit to help steer them through a major leadership transition and researching graduate schools in preparation for my next career.

 

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