By Peter Weddle -- We live in an era that sets limits. The conventional wisdom is that we are constrained by our background and upbringing, our access to opportunities, our exposure to biases, our bosses and employers. Our reality, in essence, is defined by our boundaries.
Recent research into the origins of the universe, however, convincingly demonstrates that exactly the opposite is true. We are, all of us, composed of elements created at the beginning of time. Our bodies and minds are filled with the particles of that first great explosion that launched the cosmos. We are, as the great astronomer Carl Sagen once noted, the stuff of stars.
The United States of America was founded on exactly such a principle. Our founding fathers and mothers didn’t bequeath us a legacy of Dead ends, Denials and Despair. They said we are all endowed with certain inalienable rights. That among these rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These rights exist in the workplace as well as the marketplace. They define our social and our occupational experience. In fact, they integrate the two: Our career is an essential aspect of our Life. If we exercise our Liberty and choose the right occupation and employers, it will enable us to find work that is so engaging and challenging we must draw on our star stuff to perform it. And when we do, we launch ourselves off in the pursuit of Happiness.
How does that apply to someone way down here on planet Earth? What does that actually mean for a person who’s in transition? How can that help us find a better job and advance our careers?
First, this discovery is proof positive that the conventional wisdom is wrong. In a very real sense, each of us is filled with the unlimited power and promise of the universe. Second, we need not be bound by the constraints of our life or, even, by our intelligence quotient, emotional quotient or any other human device for measuring limitations. Our only dimensions are those set by our own self exploration—the distance we’ve traveled in getting to know the immeasurable expanse of ourselves.
That journey is what a career is all about. We spend a third or more of our lives at work. That’s a significant portion of our existence and too precious to be spent on absolute drudgery, climbing corporate ladders or simply trying to make financial ends meet. We owe ourselves more than such paltry gains from all of the time we devote to our careers. Said another way, we must stop looking through the wrong end of the telescope. We must change our perspective and see the vast potential of our career.
Our work is a quest to discover the unending reaches of our star stuff. To find and experience the special gift of creation with which we are endowed. If that explanation seems a bit far-fetched to you—a tad too metaphysical for this cynical, scientific age in which we live—consider these points of evidence:
The human species is also uniquely equipped to conduct this search for our roots in the cosmos. In addition to our five senses, we have the extraordinary capacity to perceive our primordial gift. Unlike any other creature on the planet, we can actually intuit the faint full echo of the unbound self with which we were endowed at the moment of the universe’s creation. We describe this message as our “calling.” It is the insensate, but very real signal deep within us that whispers what we are meant to do with our work. This sensation is what remains within us of the Big Bang millions of years ago. It is the signature of our star stuff. And, we are only fulfilled when we comprehend it.
When we acknowledge our calling—when we focus on the essential elements with which we have been created—we set our careers on a course to the vast, unending greatness that exists within each and everyone one of us. When we then guide our careers to follow that course—when we are continuously employed in positions that enable us to plumb those depths—we exercise our inalienable rights and reach for the best we can be. That is the essence of a successful job search and a fulfilling career. To throw off the self-imposed and self-accepted limitations of this era and take every opportunity to realize more of the star stuff within us.