As part of my Bridges to Brilliance work I ask my clients to write their Career Story.  What are those defining moments in life that shape how they see and experience work?  Many of our strongest influences are from childhood, when our consciousness is wide open.  Beliefs are formed and often hidden from view, because we rarely look back and connect the dots to our current experience of work.

It is important to realize that the stronger the feeling involved in a particular memory, the more impact it has on our being.  These experiences form our map of reality, and then we interact with the world as though it were the truth.  These beliefs either allow our brilliance to shine, or they holding us back and diminish our light. 

One part of my own Career Story weaves throughout my childhood and teen years, and it relates to how I picked up the mission to assist people to love their work.

When I was a child I sometimes went to work with my dad, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, when I had a day off from school. The first thing my dad would do when we entered the building where he worked was to buy a newspaper at a newsstand run by a man named Tommy.  I loved Tommy, because he was always cheerful and smiling, and he gave me free candy.

Sometimes I noticed that Tommy seemed to look at everything sideways, and one day I asked my dad why that might be. He told me that Tommy had been a client of his, and that he was legally blind and could only see through his peripheral vision.

One day soon after that I was wandering around the building and came upon Tommy closing up his newsstand, and I asked him why he was so happy all the time. He told me it was his mission to spread joy to every person he met, and then he told me how he owed this whole opportunity to my dad, and how discouraged and lost he had been when he came to my dad for help finding work.  He explained all the steps he had to take to create his newsstand business, and how my dad had connected him with all the resources he needed to make it happen.

Tommy was so proud of his creation, and rather than merely viewing it as a way to earn money, he saw it as a vehicle to make people joyful.  He was such a bright light in the world, and you couldn’t help but feel better after interacting with him.

I was deeply moved by his story.  This man, whom I initially felt sorry for because of his disability, taught me the power of taking every opportunity to be brilliant.  And he planted an idea in me that work should be fun, and that every moment can be filled with gratitude for the opportunity to shine.

Optional writing assignment: What is your Career Story?  What are some defining moments from your early years that have impacted your current work life? Take some time to reflect on those experiences, and on how they have increased or decreased your own brilliance, and your own joy in your work.