About 6 years ago I was driving home down a dark street, with tears on my cheeks and a rage inside of me. I had given up on my dreams of being a rockstar after leaving my band that was nothing but drama. The economy crashed and so did my education because my parents could no longer afford to continue to pay my way. Both my plan A & plan B were gone. I was filled with rage for 2 reasons. 1. I was the only person to blame for walking away from my pursuit of music and being some big rockstar. 2. My biggest dream currently was to receive a full-time position at a retail store so that I could somehow continue to pay my bills.
So, I coasted. Sure, I finally hit my goal of full-time at a retail store, and even got promoted a couple more times, mostly just because I am naturally driven. But I had no huge aspirations. I grew in my company because I believe that’s what we are supposed to do; learn and grow. But in my mind, it was still “retail.” The very type of work I swore I would never be involved with again after my departing from Old Navy as a teenager (folding a table of T-shirts just to be unfolded and plopped down again, made me want to kill myself. I know that sounds dramatic, but I was 17. Everything is dramatic when you’re 17).
Retail for me was kind of like your first car, it’s a jalopy, but it gets you to where you need to go. I was young and needed work, so I took what I could get to pay some bills. I was definitely a bit embarrassed of working for some retailer rather than touring the world and rocking peoples’ faces off. So to be back in retail, after 5 years of college and internships, it felt even more shameful.
After a couple years at my company, I had a very big realization. My core values hadn’t changed, only the outside perception of myself and of what I felt others had of me, changed.
As I have explained several times, my deep sense of purpose in life has been to encourage others to pursue their dreams and passions. I have known this since I was 18 years old. I discovered it after some good old fashioned therapy. This one fact about myself had not changed. It was still what got me fired up in life. However, I allowed my outside circumstances to quench that fire. I focused more on my banged up vehicle than the actual destination I was needing to arrive at. The truth was, my jalopy could still help me arrive at my destination of pursuing my core purpose.
Even in retail, I could still encourage others to pursue their passions. I could still challenge others to make goals and go after them. I could still believe that these things were attainable for them and with them.
Once I got over myself and my shame of being in “retail” and re-connected with my true purpose, I discovered the true amount of infinite opportunity that my company truly had to offer. My retail company also happens to be in the top 5 of fortune 500 companies in the world.
When I realized that my vehicle was what merely gets me TO my destination, it didn’t matter if I was driving a jalopy or a Mercedes. I was only causing my own despair and devastation by creating unnecessary expectations for myself that were actually holding me back from pursuing my purpose. Our purpose should be what drives us. It should be our fuel. What kind of gas tank it goes in, doesn’t matter.
Don’t be ashamed of your vehicle. I have learned more working for this retail company than any education could have taught me. I just needed to realize how important it was to appreciate the journey and know what should be my fuel to keep me on course.
Once I allowed my purpose to fuel me, and aligned it with my current vehicle at my company, I took off. I was willing to grow and take advantage of all that was available to me. I am still learning, but I choose to continue to grow.
Someday, as it did once before, my vehicle may change. But I will be far more open to it next time. As long as I remain true to my core values, that will be what drives me forward. When we are open to growth and change, opportunities present themselves constantly. We may just need to be willing to overlook a bad paint job.
So, what about you? Are you confusing your vehicle with your purpose? Or are you letting your purpose be what fuels you to reach your destiny…errr…destination?