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Right Work: Thoughts on Participation and Profit

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I didn’t set out to change the world, I set out to do something about pain” – Dame Cicely Saunders, a founder of the modern hospice system, in a 2002 interview for The Daily Telegraph of London who passed away this week.

This calls to mind a conference I went to last year with Margaret Wheatley where she said she doesn’t have hope anymore (she’s very concerned about the state of the world, as am I) but that she has learned to let that go. The most important question for her, she added, is, Is this the right work?

She went on to explain that you can’t let your fears or concerns about whether your work will make the difference you hope it will influence whether you do the work. You simply have to focus on doing your work because it is the right work to be doing. Just focus on what is in front of you because you can’t know the future.

There is great wisdom in that, I believe, and I see these women as kindred spirits. I read so much every day about how to get rich as a coach, how to create tons of information products for all of you so I can retire to some sexy island and drink Mai Tais while you send me money for my words of wisdom.

It sounds to me like the purpose of this business model is to remove myself from the world. Or should I say, to remove myself from YOUR world…the world where people are working really hard, trying to raise their kids well, pay their bills and keep their relationships afloat Where people are feeling confusion, frustration, concern, joy, sorrow, bliss and grief, fear and certainty. Where people are coping with life in the middle of so many cultural and societal changes. If you make enough money, you don’t have to cope. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

I’m not sure that the seeds of wisdom grow well in overly rich soil.

Honestly, I think I’d rather sit on a park bench talking to a homeless woman about what she has learned about life and people than sit on a tropical beach having exotic beverages served to me by Fabio.

(Now, if Johnny Depp, whom my husband insists on calling “The Unattainable”, was bringing me that drink, I’d have to rethink this…)

I think we are supposed to be here participating in life, not finding ways to manipulate each other out of a low, low price of $19.95 by doing one thing and repackaging it over and over and over again so that we can make more and work less.

I’m not against making money. Money is good. I’d like more of it if you want to know the truth. But I just don’t think that making money for money’s sake and finding ways to make it without having to soil myself with getting to know you is the way to go.

I guess in the end, I feel a lot like Dame Cicely. I just want to do something about the pain.

Laura Young is a personal development and business coach. She is a contributing author to A Guide to Getting It: Purpose and Passion and Become Your Own Great and Powerful: A Woman’s Guide to Leading a Real, Big Life. She has recently been featured on By, For and About Women and Artists First Radio. Learn more about Laura or visit her blog.

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