Drive. Align. Shift. Spirit Driving Institute Blog by Leila Johnson

6Oct/11Off

Leaving a (Little) Legacy – Inspired by Steve Jobs

With the passing of Steve Jobs this week, I felt compelled to write about the legacy he has left behind. After hearing about it yesterday I wondered if there has been any other individual or company who has directly, and often indirectly, affected so many lives in our generation. My first computer was an Apple IIc. Back in the 80's I wouldn't have recognized Steve Jobs' name, but already his vision had an effect on my life. It sparked my lifelong love of computers and all technology.

Obviously the "little" reference in the title of this post does not refer to Steve Jobs in anyway. He left a huge legacy that will forever change the way we interact with each other and the rest of the world. I don't know how many of us will be able to leave such a large legacy. And that's OK, because I don't think that is the point.

When thinking about our Mission in life, we often feel that we have to do something big in order for it to be meaningful. You'll remember my prior post about Career Advancement Option #3 which allows you to Drive with Purpose: find a career that is meaningful and make changes as needed to fit your changing personal, professional, and spiritual goals in life. I also discussed A Hierarchy of Career Fulfillment that helps us to see if our career is meeting our needs.

One of the questions from that Hierarchy related to changing the world for the better. It's easy to get stuck on this question. Sometimes I look at what I do and wonder if it is making a difference. Does making a Web site for a nonprofit or small business really help anyone in the grand scheme of things? What I've realized is that we are here to serve others in some way and the work we do can make a difference even if it is in a small way. So much of the work that my company does involves creating the behind-the-scenes infrastructure that helps our wonderful clients do their work.

Here are just a few of the items from my list over the years:

  • Connecting individuals to locations where they can donate goods for cancer patients
  • Providing access to downloadable voter resources to promote democracy in underserved populations
  • Creating a hub for disabled workers to find work and support
  • Showcasing events and resources for healthcare professionals working in developing countries
  • Helping low-income parents find clothing for their children

When I look at it this way it brings a tear to my eye and gives me a renewed passion for my work. Sure, I'm not saving lives or winning Nobel Prizes, but my work is helping someone somewhere every minute of everyday. And that's enough for me.

Thanks to Steve Jobs for inspiring an industry and multiple generations of individuals and businesses!

11Sep/11Off

What September 11th Means to Me

On this 10th anniversary of September 11th, I am struck by many things. Today I'll talk about my personal reflections. I can't believe what a different life I lead now. And I can't believe how that event indirectly shaped my career path and personal life.

Please know that I always feel weird telling this story because it seems trivial in light of the tragedies that happened. Yet, it is something that I feel compelled to share. I hope this inspires you to find the many more powerful, inspirational stories that can help you make sense of the day.

A little over ten years ago, I was working at a mutual fund company in Denver whose headquarters was in the World Trade Center. I worked for the quality assurance team in their call center. I wasn't entirely happy with my job and wanted something different. After researching the different opportunities that were available in the company, I settled on applying to become a call center trainer. It looked like a fun job to me and I knew I had the qualifications.

On that Monday, September 10th, I turned in my job application to the local Human Resources Department and felt confident about the possibilities. Then, Tuesday rolled around. Of course, the office was chaotic. We were preparing for an onslaught of phone calls from shareholders wondering what was happening with their money. Instead, the call center was eerily silent. We were all glued to the televisions as we wondered what was happening to our fellow employees in the North Tower. Somehow all of our co-workers made it out of the building before it fell. Our bosses told our department to stay home the rest of the week because there really wasn't anything for us to do.

So, there I was at home staying glued to the television with my fear of leaving the house increasing every minute. My boyfriend at the time used to travel around the country as a corporate trainer for a different company. He was supposed to fly out to St. Louis on September 11th. But the training class was changed, so he flew out the day before. Since air traffic was grounded for over a week, he wasn't able to fly home as planned at the end of that week. It was strange being at home by myself all that time without being able to share this experience with him. That weekend, he rented a car and drove over 12 hours to make it home.

Things at work somewhat settled down after several weeks. It was around that time that I saw an announcement about the new trainers that were selected for the call center trainer positions. My name was not on the list. Being the overachiever that I am, I decided to check in with HR to find out why I wasn't selected and why I didn't even get the chance to interview. The HR associate looked through her paperwork and found that she didn't even have my job application on file. She asked when I turned it in. I told her it was on September 10th. She paused and then apologized saying that it must have gotten lost in all of the chaos.

I was upset, but after reflecting on things, I realized that this must have happened for a reason. It was also at that time that my boyfriend and I felt like we shouldn't waste time in our lives. We had been talking about getting married. Once he got back that weekend, our talks started to become more of a reality. We were married the following year and are still going strong. We also talked about what we really wanted to do career-wise and began to take steps toward becoming entrepreneurs. That became a reality in 2003.

Now that I look at my life as an a stay-at-home mom, wife, entrepreneur, and author, I can see several events that helped to get me where I am today. I am so thankful for my life.

On this anniversary, I was glued to the TV again, but this time watching the memorial events. As I listened to the stories of families and friends affected by the tragedies, I am reminded of many things:

The "stresses" in my life that really aren't that stressful

How quickly your life and the world can change

How important it is not to waste time on trivial things, but focus on your dreams and how you can achieve them

The importance of family and friends during the happy and sad times

I hope that my story can help you find a glimmer of hope and positivity today to help you move forward in your life.

20Dec/10Off

Drive. Align. Shift.

You may have noticed that my site and blog have a new tagline that encompasses the work that I do: Drive. Align. Shift. It is a bold statement showing the progression we should all take to have a successful life. I have developed new courses around this concept to help you take the necessary steps to be fulfilled in all areas of your life.

Drive with Purpose.

Some people aren't even on the road. They just blindly go through life and let it happen to them instead of taking some responsibility. The easiest option for these folks is to complain about their job, house, spouse, kids, and everything else in between. Instead of looking at everyone else and every other circumstance, they should look within for the source of their problem - thinking that a lack of action will lead to change in their lives.

Believe it or not, this used to describe me many years ago. I've made a lot of changes in my life to get to where I am today. If you're interested in making a change, you have to make a commitment to Drive with Purpose.

Make no excuses. Get on the road and do something. If you're not driving, you're not living. Remember, though that navigating does not equal complete control. There are some things that you have to leave up to the Universe, but you must be a willing partner in order to move forward.

Align Your Goals.

Once you're driving on the road, you will have some work to do. Again, there are people who think it's good enough to just be on the road and watch everyone else. They have a false sense of security where they are and convince themselves that they are happy with life as it is. Usually these are the people who avoid changing their course and don't even bother setting goals.

I remember the times when I was frustrated with goal-setting because I was failing at my goals or it was taking too long to achieve them. If you want a better goal-setting and achievement strategy, you have to focus on how to Align Your Goals in all parts of your life.

It doesn't make sense to have goals that don't connect. We all have different roles that should connect and make you who you are. Goals that you make for each of these areas should complement each other. Also, you have to keep in mind that you may not achieve all of your goals in the way that you're expecting. Sometimes you Drive with Purpose and set a goal that is on-mission, but you don't reach that goal. There are other reasons for going through that experience.

Shift Your Perspective.

After being on the road for awhile and making some changes, the scenery will start to look monotonous. You've become familiar with the typical challenges you face and know how to overcome them. You hang around similar people and just breathe in each others' fumes. This is the time to really break out of your shell and do something different with your life.

I have been comfortable with my life at different times in the past and was afraid of making a change that could bring even more success and happiness. If you're content with where you are, but feel that more fulfillment could be just around the corner, your next step is to Shift Your Perspective.

Shifting involves doing a lot of inner work. You have to continue to let go and see the lessons in life as a way to allow you to see more of the world. Your purpose becomes clear. You see your life as an example for others. It can be scary to challenge some of your long-standing beliefs, but this is the only path to true growth.

I'm sure you saw yourself in at least one part of this progression. Check out my upcoming courses in the Drive. Align. Shift. Program. I would recommend starting from the beginning to get the most benefit from the program.

8Jun/10Off

Who is Driving in Nonprofit Organizations?

After reading Rod Dreher's post, Ending the Too Big to Fail Threat, I was inspired to place nonprofit organizations under the same lens. One phrase in particular stood out to me. He wondered if banks and government "were [confusing] their own interests with the public's interest, and govern that way". After serving on nonprofit boards and interacting with my Web firm's nonprofit clients, I've started to wonder if nonprofits suffer from the same problem. I've seen a spectrum of ways to govern - some focused on the organization's interests and others focused on the people that make up the organization.

When it comes to nonprofits, many of us are under the impression that all of the work that they do is inherently "good". In an ideal world this would be true; however, there's one variable that we often forget about. Nonprofit organizations are made up of people with distinct missions, interests, and agendas. The core people that control nonprofits are the board and executive staff.

I've wondered for awhile if it's possible to separate your personal mission, interests, and agenda from that of the organization. It is an honor to be a part of a nonprofit whether you're on the board or part of the staff. Of course, you should only be involved if the work the organization is doing is congruent with your personal values. Unfortunately, there are ways that conflicts of interest can arise. I'm not talking about the blatant stories we hear about someone stealing money. I'm talking about the more subtle ones that fall in a gray area like showing favoritism in selecting vendors or letting personal prejudices dictate how to provide services.

It's hard to say that a person is "wrong" for doing these things. But it makes you wonder if they are letting their Personality or Spirit drive. Also, you have to consider whether they are looking at the larger picture - the Spirit of the organization. Instead they are letting their Personality take control. They are showing the childish, sometimes selfish side of themselves in order to accomplish a goal that is important to them. Had they let their Spirit drive, they would have opened up more possibilities for tapping into the Spirit of the organization.

Those that participate in the management of a nonprofit (either on the board or staff level) are doing so because they have a particular interest in helping the nonprofit organization accomplish important work. It doesn't hurt to get some personal satisfaction from the connection also. It's when that personal satisfaction becomes so strong that you are driving the organization to do something that might not be in its best interest.

For more on this topic, view the question I asked on LinkedIn: As a nonprofit board member, how do you ensure that you're focused on furthering the organization's mission and not your own?

I'm eager to hear what others think about this topic. Have you experienced this gray area and/or conflict of interest as a nonprofit board member or staff person?

26Apr/10Off

When You Achieve Your Mission, is Your Business on Earth Finished?

While putting the finishing touches on my book layout this weekend, I began to think about this question. I do explore destiny vs. free will, but don't specifically explore the afterlife as it relates to your Mission.

We all have some type of Mission to fulfill. This leaves me with a question that can be asked in two ways:

  1. Does everyone get to achieve their Mission?
  2. When you achieve your Mission, is your business on Earth finished?

If we think about people we know personally that have passed on, I'm sure you can answer those questions quickly. There are people that pass on much earlier than we think they should have. Those folks may have made a mark on the world, but may not have achieved their Mission. On the flip-side, there are folks that have lived long lives, but also may not have achieved their Mission for a variety of reasons.

So, if someone lives their life and doesn't figure out how to express their Mission, does that mean their life didn't have any meaning? I doubt that it is that cut-and-dried. Even in the process of figuring out what to do, you come across some life lessons that can make a difference (for yourself and the Universe).

I don't have any brilliant answers for this one, but am curious about what others think of these questions.

23Feb/10Off

Destiny Versus Free Will: in LOST and Your Profession

LOST: Jack and Jacob

Episode 5x16/17: A scene playing with destiny vs. free will

I watched my favorite show tonight, LOST. For those of you who aren't "Losties", I'll spare you every detail of the show. It would be waaaaay too long for a blog post anyway. What I do want to mention is an important theme on the show: destiny vs. free will.

It's a theme that we all battle with in real life, especially with our professions. Is there something we're supposed to be doing? Or are we supposed to just meander through life doing different things that we enjoy? To take it even further, is some outside force guiding us in one direction or another?

I like to think it's a little bit of all three. We all have some Mission, it's up to us to figure out the best way to express it. We are all good at something. Some of us have a natural talent and others have to work to perfect our craft.

Your Mission is not about knowing the exact profession you're supposed to have. It's about discovering different ways to express it throughout your life. Each LOST character has something that they naturally do even when they tried their hardest to change. Jack likes to fix people. Kate likes to run away. Sawyer likes to con. Hurley likes to be the peacemaker. And so on and so on.

I naturally fall into teaching mode in just about everything I do. It's fun for me to learn a lot about something so that I can teach others. I've taught others about science, writing, customer service, software, getting into college, starting a business, and now spirituality.

Here's the funny thing. I used to be very shy. Public speaking terrified me until I was in my early 20's. Still, I had a passion for teaching. I've known since I was 5 that I wanted to teach something. Teaching all of these topics have been fun and helped me to perfect my craft.

Look back on all of the jobs and careers you've had. Don't just focus on the industry or your job title. Think about the specific tasks that you naturally gravitated toward. These tasks can give you a hint about your Mission.

So, I'm not sure where LOST will end up on the destiny vs. free will debate. There is some truth in both sides. What side do you believe is true?