When We Opened Our Eyes for the Very First Time

Allow yourself to consider the moment surrounding your birth, when you opened your eyes for the very first time. You held no prejudices, no biases. You had no material wants or needs. You had no business plan accompanying your life. We all arrived as equals at that very special moment.

Now imagine at the moment you opened your eyes for the first time that you were born into severe poverty and wouldn’t live but for 24 hours. This is a devastating comparison, to be sure. How did we become so fortunate?

We were blessed to be born with many gifts. From our birth we each created our own unique snowflake of a life. We should hold profound gratification. But what have we done with our gifts? How many lives have we affected? I think this is core to the quotation, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.”

We should all strive to encounter and embrace our “why.”

Too often in life we are asked what we want to do. I think we should spend more time thinking about “why” we want to do it. When I recently spoke with a number of the seniors at the Virginia State University, I did ask them if they knew what they wanted to do upon graduation, but I always followed it up with “why” they wanted to pursue that course. Were they living someone else’s dream? Were they being encouraged to follow the path of a successful family member, friend or neighbor? Or was their path the dream locked up inside their heart? As the saying goes, “Make your own mistakes, not someone else’s.” If you do fail, you’d like to know you did so trying to realize your dream, not someone else’s.

And know this: “Success isn’t the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”

Adam Grant is a tenured Wharton management professor (PhD, University of Michigan; BA, Harvard University). His book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, discusses the burnout factors in jobs. On the desk of a University of Michigan fundraiser is this framed quotation:

“Doing a good job here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit – you get a warm feeling but no one else notices.”

That phrase really resonated with me. When we can give our staff a clearer understanding as to how their performance on the job is making an impact, many good things occur. Their productivity increases – they have a clearer line of sight to the benefits of their job. Their job satisfaction tends to rise – when you better understand “why” you are doing “what” you do, you want to do more of it. Let’s be sure we are “giving” more this season.

When you open your eyes for the first time tomorrow morning, make a pledge to make the day count! Apply as many of your gifted talents as you can. Give to as many people as you are able, and look to brighten their day!

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