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I’ll be a guest speaker on The Quest of Life radio show on WRPI-FM on Friday, December 17, 2010 and my topic will be Connecting Your Spirit and Your Work. The next few blog posts will go into more talk about the points that I’ll be speaking on there.

Every day, I have to go out and go for a walk.  It can be a blizzard, but I need to go outside, even if it’s just to breathe the air for a few minutes.  I’ve mostly realized this when I’m in those situations of having to do a “working lunch” where I’m expected to sit inside all day, and I don’t get a break. I need it for the physical as well as the mental aspects.  I just need to get away from it all.  When I don’t get it, I’m a crabby, sorry monster. (Granted, this goes when I don’t get my tea in the morning too, but that’s something different.)

There are other aspects that are really important to me too, such as feeling respected by my co-workers for what I bring to the table, getting to work directly with others on problems, having others say “Thank You! You helped me do things I didn’t realize I could do.”, and other such things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  We all have these things for us, and what I’ve found is that they are different for every person.

Maybe for you, it’s really important to accomplish a project.  Maybe it’s that you get to work with a lot of people interaction. Maybe it’s that you have very little people interaction and a lot of quiet time.  Whatever it is, it’s what is important to you to do you work and feel good about it.  I always ask people to tell me about the situations where they have felt great about what they got done, and what are the circumstances of it.  It might be a boss that really was supportive, or one that just told you what to do and trusted that you’d get it down.  These environments are the fertile soil that you need to grow. Just like some plants grow best in full sun and others in sandy earth, we’re all have different needs.

So, what’s the environment that you need to grown?

Again, remember to let people know about the Finding Your Calling workshop at Easton Mountain, March 18-20, 2011!

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I’ll be a guest speaker on The Quest of Life radio show on WRPI-FM on Friday, December 17, 2010 and my topic will be Connecting Your Spirit and Your Work. The next few blog posts will go into more talk about the points that I’ll be speaking on there.

What is it that makes your spirit soar? What are the things that you do that make you feel good about yourself? When do feel most alive?  These are questions that we rarely ask ourselves when we talk about our careers. The old adage is that “Work is work”, meaning that it’s not something to enjoy.

Henry David Thoreau wrote that “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them”, and I believe that most of us can see this in either our own or others lives. You can tell when you are around someone that you feel the life as really been sucked out of them. This is usually replaced by anger, cattiness, or a general vacantness of the soul. It’s like these people are not living their own lives, but reacting to or fighting back from the agony that is the world. It’s usually also accompanied by the feeling that nothing can be done to change the situation.

I deal with many people who feel like the don’t have any options and are list as the direction they want to go. The biggest thing that usually gets clients out of this rut is to get some movement in a positive direction. Of course, this first begs the question of what’s a positive direction. While I’ll go into that in my next post on values, a good way to think about it is to ask yourself “What would I change in my current situation that would make life better?”. Whether you can currently change it yourself or not, this is a sign that this relates to what your spirit needs in your life. One of the keys to happiness is to keep moving toward things that support your spirit, and less of just reacting to the negatives.

So, what are the things that fill your heart with joy and make you feel good about yourself?  What actions are you taking to include more of that in your daily life?


Again, remember to let people know about the Finding Your Calling workshop at Easton Mountain, January 14-17, 2011! (Note: It’s been rescheduled to March 18-20-, 2011!)

I’ll be a guest speaker on The Quest of Life radio show on WRPI-FM on Friday, December 17, 2010 and my topic will be Connecting Your Spirit and Your Work. The next few blog posts will go into more talk about the points that I’ll be speaking on there.

What happens to a dream deferred?  These words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reverberate in my mind when I talk with many of my clients. As s consequence of my line of work, many people come to me with that “lost” expression of their souls. they don’t know where they are or what they want to do with their lives. Many times, these clients felt that they had something and that it’s gotten away from them or vanished before their eyes.

There could be many reasons for that. While some could be that they didn’t have a clear plan in the first place or that  circumstances in the world have changed their lives, a big reason I see is that people made decisions way back at the initial part of their planning that didn’t include listening to their own heart.

For the average individual, career decisions are made sometime shortly before or after the age of 20. Whether you go to college, a trade school or not, we ask our young people “So, what do you want to do with your life?” and mist often these people are incapable to really answer this question (with many exceptions, of course).  As our culture tends to perpetuate the concept of having one career your entire life, so young professionals are brought up with the thought that they better get it correct now or they will screw up their lives. That seems to be a remnant of the “working at the town mill” mentality that many of our parents grew up with.  Granted, we now know that now one will be there to take care of us if we don’t do it for ourselves. (Note: estimates by the US Dept. of Labor say that the average Baby Boomer had 11 jobs from ages 18-65; chances are good that there were a lot of changes going on there!)

Given such a high stress on getting it right on our young people, it’s not hard to understand that they will tend to look for others to help them with such an important decision.  Unfortunately, what many times happens is that they make decisions to keep others happy, instead of listening to their own heart.  I have dealt with too many 30-somethings who have done great career changes because they always wanted to do something, but their parents or society had other ideas for them.  That’s not to say that these people were out to sabotage this young person’s life, but that the student probably didn’t have a strong enough sense of self to speak their own truth, and by not practicing listening then, that voice stopped being listened.  That dream deferred then comes back screaming later on to get the minds attention when the soul have been ignored.

A common occurence about 10 years ago was when the software and engineering industries took a big hit in the Boston area, and a lot of computer programmers where suddenly out of work.  Many of these people went into the field in the 80’s when “that’s where the jobs were” and they never had to look for a job; it always found them.  What many of them discovered was that when they had to look for a job and say why they wanted to be a programmer, they had nothing to say.  They found out that they were doing it only for the money and stability.  Now that they had a choice, many people went into other fields.

So, what dreams have you deferred?

I met a friend this past weekend who just moved to the Boston area a few months ago from California, and he was looking for ways that he could connect up with other people to play tennis. As someone new to the area, he seemed a bit confused as to how he could find out where things were happening. I mentioned that he should look in the Community section of BayWindows.com for all the GLBT groups in the area, and that I also had a friend who played in a gay tennis league not too far from where he lives.

This got us to talking more about how the Boston area always makes connections by groups and common interest. (I’ve written about this before in my blog. See the article here). He then commented that it also worked when he had been at a club that there were a group of guys that kept to themselves, but when he was introduced to them through someone he knew, they all talked with him and could reintroduce himself the next time he saw them. We here in the chilly North tend to want to know the connections between people before we make approaches.

As usual, I see a parallel with job search. If you are trying to get a job or moving into a new field, the people you want to meet are those that you want to show that you have something in common with. People aren’t going to want to meet you because you’re nice; there are a lot of nice people in the world. We tend to make our choices about which movie to go see, which TV to buy, or which restaurant to dine at given the comments of our trusted sources.

So, what stories about you are your friends and colleagues telling about you, and are they making others what to meet you?


PS – Remember to listen to the Quest of Life Podcast on Friday at 1 p.m. EST to hear me live (see previous blogpost about that!)

On Friday, December 17th at 1:00 p.m. EST, I’ll be a guest on Harry Faddis‘ Show, The Quest of Life, on WRPI Radio out of Troy, New York.  The topic for this session will be How to Connect Your Spirit and Your Work, and I’ll be talking about the following five points.

  • Listen to Your Heart: Dreams deferred come out somewhere.  We tend to life out other people’s dreams. (Family, society pressure, etc.) Need to be in a space to listen to yourself.
  • What do you need to feed your spirit?
  • Identify your Values: What are the important aspects of your professional life.
  • What role does your career play in your life?
  • Career Planning: Come up with a long range goal and work on the next steps.  Unless there is forward momentum, you’ll feel stuck.

You can listen live by going to wrpi.org at 1:00 p.m. or you can subscribe to the podcast (more information at http://www.thequestoflife.com/).  It’s a tremendous podcast which covers all aspects of queer spirituality and how we make our way in the world. The show is every Friday from 12 noon – 2 p.m. and they only play music by LGBT musicians.  Give a listen!

In the past day, I’ve seen two very inventive videos of people who are doing the things they love and sharing them. The first is a video by Emerson College students where they are doing a lip psyching video to a compilation of Lady Gaga songs. It involves over 400 students and was basically a campus tour as the showed all the facilities but also demonstrated the skill sets that they were developing in their studies (namely performance, video production, editing, event coordination, etc.). I’ve worked with a number of students that I see in this video and it’s amazing to see what they’ve accomplished. It’s also starting to go viral around the world too.


The second one was a music video of musician performing jazzed-up Christmas carols, but only using different iPhone and iPod apps. They replicate hand bells, guitars, conga drums, and numerous other instruments.  The performance is great, and really shows off their technical skills.

This reminds me a lot of the video of the band Atomic Tom that performed and recorded a music video on the subway using just iPhones for both the performing and recording.

What do these all have in common?  These people are demonstrating to the works what they have to offer others professionally. You don’t have to wonder what they can do, as they are showing it off. You don’t have to go and ask these people of their value; it’s right in front of you.

What does this have you do with your career? Everything!

Most people I work with hide what they have to offer the world, or at least make it so difficult to find out this information that people never see it. It’s either so cryptically written in a resume or an interviewer needs to ask so many questions to find the answer that the news of your value never gets out to be seen.

If you’re going to be happy in what you do in your career, it needs to cone from the capabilities that you have that you love to do (and are skilled at!). Are you a good writer? Write things that people can actually see (instead of keeping it all locked away on your computer or journal. Really good at organizing? Organize something that people in the world will experience. And mist importantly, after you’ve done it, let other people know about it! Your reputation is built on your works, and other people will be able to say good things about you to others (like hiring managers) in the future.

So, what beautiful, creative things about yourself are you keeping from the world?

I’ve got a beard now, and I’ve had it for almost two years. I grow a good beard and I’ve been encouraged over the past few decades to grow it. The problem was always that at about three weeks time, I would want to to tear my face off as it would get so itchy (and my face would break out). I have a lot of friends who have beards (and really think that all men look better with beards) and I would tell them that I was about to shave off my beard because if the itching. With great fervor, they would insist that I just grow it out and it wouldn’t itch anymore.  It never worked for me, as I’d last at most a month.

Finally, I grew it out and I tried something different.  I noticed that a lot of guys would now have their beards really short, and I thought it looked really cool.  I got a shaver with the trimmer guide, and just kept my beard to about a seven days growth.  Surprise, I didn’t itch.  Found out that I’ve got very curly beard hair, and by growing it longer, it would curl back into my face and make me itch.  Whereas for other guys, growing their beard out would make it more comfortable, for me it’s the opposite.

In navigating our career paths, many times we get recommendations from people that work for them, but don’t work for us, and many times they are absolutely sure are know the right thing.  This goes to show that you really have to look at what is your own situation, what works for you, and what doesn’t.  That’s one reason that I work with so many people in asking the “What do you want?” question.  Until you know more about what’s important to you and your own situational specifics, it’s hard to know where to go.

So, how do you know what recommendations to take?

Note: Remember about my Finding Your Calling Workshop at Easton Mountain, March 18-20, 2011!  Tell your friends!

I was very fortunate this past Thanksgiving week to be able to take time off to rest and restore. Between the sinus infection that still seems to linger and some family health issues, I’ve been in a somewhat constant state of low level stress for the past few months. Nothing completely debilitating, but aggravating nonetheless. It’s just kept me from having the energy to do a number of things (including writing blog posts).

I have been told many times that our bodies are very wise and let us know when we should do something. From that gut reaction that any opportunity in front of us is right or wrong, to the overwhelming “clue-by-four” that we are tired and need to stop and rest, to the smell that leads us into a great restaurant, we are led by our bodies more than we think.

In the Christian calendar, we’re in the season of Advent. I’ve seen this defined as expectation, waiting, or arriving. Whatever it is, it’s definitely a time for slowing down. With the darkening days, our bodies know this instinctively. Unfortunately, our commercial culture tells us that this is the time to speed up and get crazy. I personally think that this I’d the reason why do many people get the blues in January. They are so out of touch with the rhythms of the year that they crash.

Much of my career development work is to get clients to listen to their own needs as far as what will make them happy in their work. Too often, people have been programmed by culture or family to deny what they really want and what really makes them happy. I’ve found almost universally that a dream deferred will pop up somewhere in life to disrupt your plans, much like your body will shut you down if you don’t listen to its needs.

So, what needs are you denying or ignoring and how is your body or spirit screaming to be heard?  What actions are you doing to start to hear?

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

Ken Mattsson

I am a career consultant who specializes in the connection between what your spirit wants to do in the world, and how to marry that to the work that you do in order to support yourself. While I work with people in all fields, I specialize in working with "creative entrepreneurs" and the LGBT community.

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