What Do You Love? The Answer May Surprise You

When I was little, I wanted to be a pediatrician and a model. I’m not sure when I stopped wanting to be a pediatrician, but one day around age 12, I realized that I probably wouldn’t get much taller than 5’2”. I figured I’d let Naomi Campbell lead in that space.

One summer during a college internship I dreamed up a program called Operation XCite. The tagline was, “You decide your future.” The program targeted inner city schools in Atlanta and Decatur (where I grew up).

Me and about 7 of my African-American engineering student friends would go and share the opportunity of engineering school as an option with elementary students that looked like us. The kids and teachers were extremely receptive. That’s so far in my past that I can’t recall enough details to know if the program was well-organized or engaging.

I just know those kids’ eyes would light up and when we left, the adrenaline I would have from making connections and a perceived impact would drive me forward for days. I would think, “I love this stuff. I was made to do this.” Those Operation XCite days were probably my first foray into training and education.

However, once I graduated from college and started working, I got swept away with business. I enjoyed setting objectives and learning how to shift the business to meet results. I enjoyed learning how to do new things to meet challenges. 

I was in a job once that I was struggling with. It seemed like a daily drudge and I was having trouble finding the joy in it. In order to find a little light in it, I wrote down a list of all the things that I would do for free. Because If there is something that I’d do for free, it must be something that I naturally love.

So I wrote the list and figured out how to incorporate some of these things into my job. Four of the things I wrote were:

  1. I’d talk to people for free.
  2. I’d listen to people for free.
  3. I’ll answer questions for free.
  4. I’d train people on new things for free.

I put the list in my office and every time I saw an opportunity for a new role, I would evaluate it using my list of things I naturally enjoy.

Eventually, I got the opportunity to work on a team where I was responsible for teaching associates Lean Six Sigma. Once I trained them, I would then partner with them as they worked to solve a problem leveraging the tools that I had shared. I loved it!

I loved sharing my knowledge. I loved learning about others and their challenges. I loved knowing that I was helping my fellow associates gain a new perspective and framework for their day-to-day challenges.

No matter the initial anticipation or anxiety about the material, the message, or the group, once in the moment, never did I feel more alive than when I was training or coaching associates through leveraging an approach to improve a situation. I was a college kid again experiencing the love that I remembered from my Operation XCite days.

Training and Coaching are a part of my natural predisposition. It allows me to bring my whole self to the situation. I come to life and my prayer is that I share that energy with my students.

What is your natural love? What brings you energy and allows you to operate at your best? We owe it to ourselves to not only listen to the answers to those questions, but also to try new things until we find a good fit.


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