Hopefully you have had an opportunity to reflect on Christensen’s three questions:
- “How can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career?
- How can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and family become an enduring source of happiness?
- How can I live my life with integrity?”
I thought I would share a little more of the thinking behind this article as you continue to reflect on these three essential questions. When contemplating question number one, Christensen quotes Frederick Herzberg, “who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements.” Think about how this fits into the work that you are currently doing. Are you having an opportunity to learn, increase your responsibilities, help others to learn and grow, and receive some recognition for your work? Are you recognizing others for the contributions and work that they are doing? In most after-school programs, the answer is a resounding “yes”. After-school is a learning organization on every front—staff, students, school day, parents, and community.
Although you may not always stay in the after-school arena, your thinking can be broadened to inquire if your “wheelhouse” is working with youth, making a difference in the community, or education in general. Thinking about this will help you to answer the second question which really pertains to your purpose—what is it that you should do with the gifts and talents, time and energy that you have been given? I know that for me my purpose revolves around educating myself and others. I am a learner in search of a classroom and I have been blessed with a series of wonderful classrooms throughout my life. The reciprocity of teaching and learning is ongoing—while I am doing one, I am simultaneously doing the other. What is your purpose? What is it that you were born to do? What is it that makes you feel content and fulfilled?
Answering the final question is critical if at the end of the day you would like for people to say, “The world is a better place” because you were here. “How can you live your life with integrity?” Actually, integrity is directly tied to your word and your actions. Integrity means that you understand that life is not about looking right it is rather about being right. It is about doing all of the internal work on yourself so that you can send your energy and talents out into the world to help others be more successful. In the world of after-school, you have an endless number of opportunities to do exactly this. Consider this as you work in your program in 2011. (If you are interested in reading the full text of this article you can order on line at www.hbr.org or by calling, 800.988.0886.)