I didn’t know it, but this time nine years ago, I was almost ready to leave my dream job. While full of adrenaline and ambition, it was no longer nourishing me, but I wasn’t ready to let go. Little did I know I was putting the psychological pieces in place to set out on my own. I simply started to point myself in the direction of the things that caught my interest. I didn’t ask why, or analyze if something was worth the investment of my personal energy, time or finances. I jumped into explorer mode. When I left the dream job a few months later, I continued to explore.
It started with reading and writing. I read everything that energized me, and took advantage of a lucrative contract to go places that taught me the things I was called to learn. I started a simple journal on a spiffy new laptop, to capture the meaning I was making out of life around me. The journal turned into a blog 7 years ago where I started to share what I was learning from life. Starting with What Does Soccer Have to do with Leadership?, That Old Chevy Won’t Last Forever and The Runaway Train, the Dinosaur, and the House of Cards. The journal and the blogs eventually formed the foundation for my book – Nest City: The Real City Planner is You.
Here’s what I learned along the way:
- Our work – when we follow our bliss – is the force that generates and regenerates our cities. That means that following our bliss is a survival skill.
- The purpose of cities – as the habitat we build for ourselves – is to grow and evolve the human species.
- The purpose of planning is to support a city’s efforts to notice, adjust and organize to ensure the city is able to integrate the needs of its citizens with its context. This purpose of planning is recalibrating.
- At every scale (self, family, neighbourhood, organization, city, nation, species), we have an impulse to thrive – in cities.
In order to deepen in to these understandings, we are called to approach our work differently. It doesn’t matter if you are a city planner or a teacher or a custodian or an artist. We are all called to notice the direction in which we are called to move (destination). We are called to embrace the learning journey that life brings, to discern the destination and notice if we are on track (10 practices for the uneasy city journey). We are called to step into emergence, the unknown at every threshold face (emerge to new destinations).
When we notice where we want to go, step into the learning journey along the way and embrace the unknown that emerges around us, we will create cities where all citizens thrive.
At the time, I wondered if in following what gave me bliss, I was not exposing myself to contrary opinions, closing myself off to alternate points of view. Ever so subtly, I choose to be open to everything that presented itself to me, noticing what resonated and what did not and then exploring what did not. I found simply that what did not resonate did not nourish me. I choose the path of nourishment. I chose what sparked my soul.
In two weeks, my colleague Katharine Weinmann and I are hosting a small group of people on a similar journey, to guide them through the trials and tribulations of finding work that sparks the soul.
You are invited.
Would love to have you 🙂