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Terry Malloy, a former middle-weight boxer, (played by Marlon Brando), speaks to his brother, Charlie, in the back of their car in the 1950s movie, On the Water Front, it is clear that his reflections express regret for not taking more risks during the first half of life.

Terry now works at the docks of Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb), the corrupt boss who exploits the desperation of day laborers. What Terry sees at the docks repulses him.

In an economically-depressed environment, much like our own climate, many are out of work, more gather by the docks each morning hoping to secure work for that day than can be hired, placing Johnny Friendly and his forces in a position to capitalize on their hungry situation. Those who complain of the working conditions or wages one day don’t work the next day, or are placed in harm’s way. Consequently, most tolerate being abused.

Still, Terry doesn’t see how he might make a bigger contribution in this situation than he ever could as a famous boxer—one who sought his own fame and profit over a meaningful life. When our value depends on making an impression rather than contributing great things in our community, we can grow dispirited, without heart and hope.

Here’s an example of the conversation of egoic-regret, rancor, blame and his current feelings of ordinariness.

Charlie: “Look, kid, I – how much you weigh, son? When you weighed 168 pounds you were beautiful. You coulda been another Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a manager, he brought you along too fast.”

Terry: “It wasn’t him, Charlie, it was you! Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, ‘Kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the price on Wilson.’ You remember that? ‘This ain’t your night!’ My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charlie, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money.”

Charlie: “Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.”

Terry: “You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charlie.”

Though this is a work of fiction, it has great resonance with many of us. Sometimes we blame others for our despair or resign ourselves to the smallest version of ourselves to avoid embarrassment, failure, discomfort or ridicule.

Clients in search of life direction (especially after age forty) often wonder what they might have been had they only applied themselves in school or after college. Instead, they chose the easier, softer, safer way; the way of their peers or the “familiar” way—the choices their family-of-origin thought was more impressive or worse, practical.

Famous dancer Martha Graham reminds us that we must listen to our deepest calling, the truth of who we are and bring this authenticity (our being) into the world of doing. She writes,

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique…. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” ~ Martha Graham

Before we can affirm, even authorize the next stage in our lives, we need to affirm the first half, no matter what choices we have made or have not made when we were younger.

So many of us find ourselves moving as fast as bumble bees in search of honey–seeking that golden ring of “better than the present.” Pausing and reflecting, as Socrates reminds us to do for a “life worth living,” can be a way to turn around unrewarding habits of regret and despair for creating a more enlivening future.

It’s especially heart-warming—especially on Labor Day—to know that Terry, eventually wakes up to his true potential. He comes to see that his struggle for fame could morph into something more useful not only for himself but for those around him. He uses his heart to give him the guts to organize his peers to stand up to their corrupt bosses thus enabling them all to receive better working conditions and more-adequate pay.

How might we turn our lives, and our sites for income, toward a more worthy and rewarding focus? Don’t we all have “bigger fish to fry” than our own personal profit/ego?

It can be a challenge to think of the good of the whole when we’re feeling financially desperate or personally despairing about a less-than-ideal past. My motto is much like the book by Martha Sinetar, Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow. I say, Do What You Love to do for others, the Money Will Follow.

What you love to do for others needn’t be a form of martyrdom. As Harold Thurman Whitman says: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!”

What do you love to do for others that brings you the most joy? Do that and I promise you a rich and enlivening future beyond your wildest dreams.

Keep your mind open, experiment, and let me know how it goes. If you need my support to hang in there in this experiment, please contact me and we’ll see what we can create together.

Life Design Unlimited

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It never hurts to dream big!

It never hurts to dream big!

“Getting stuck in the wrong career is like a horror movie where I’ve been buried and no one can hear my screams!” ~ Barbara Sher

I’m not sure which is worse hating the job you’re in, (perhaps sneaking time at work to find another job), or looking for a job, any job, just as long as it pay the bills.

Even though many people are feeling the pinch of living in an economic recession, including the thousands who’ve been laid off, there are more people than you would think actually deciding to make career changes. Women, three-to-one, are starting their own business and both men and women are choosing careers that feel more rewarding, more meaningful or at least more in sync with who they really are.

Few people these days are hankering to break into the corporate sector for happiness or job security. More often they feel “happiness” promises are marketing ploys and “job security” is an oxymoron. When we meet they often ask, “Can you help people who don’t know what it is they want to be when they grow up?” or they say, “I’ve been working so hard at keeping this lousy job – even my coworkers constantly complain – I can’t think straight about what I would do if I were to be laid off.”

One of my favorite questions to ask my career-coaching clients who feel lost but dying to do something different is this: “If you received 40 million dollars (tax free) every 12 months, from now until your death, what would you do with your days? What would you do with your time just for fun?”

Another question I ask is this: “If you were told you have 12 hours to live and it was midnight, what would you regret never having done?”

Not everyone believes you can make a living doing what you love to do for others. For instance, the authors of Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard, beat to death their message of “following the cheese (money?)” – as a metaphor for being willing to go with the flow of your times, follow the trends of your current cultural moment if you want to make a living. They wrote, “You’ll be wondering who moved YOUR cheese if you don’t keep following the scent of potential profit. Mice know how to do this.”

Perhaps these Blanchard and Johnson were operating from a “rat race” mentality. If profit comes before people, you’re more likely to be awfully lonely, unsatisfied and stuck in a horror movie of sorts—what Buddhists call a karmic hell realm (born of the seeds you’ve sewn by greedy choices).

Today’s happier income generators seems to be more willing to create a livelihood based on what energizes them. As my stand-up comic friend says, “If it ain’t fun, I’m not going to be doing it for long.” This sentiment seems to be the case more often than not when people take or keep a job because it pays well or well-enough. Truth be told, they are slowly dying inside and their loved ones can feel it. Is the pay off worth it?

Can you imagine thinking of your work as fun? Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, Inc. claims: “If earning our living is what we spend most of our time doing, don’t you think it’s worth finding the kind of work that feeds your soul? Keep searching, it’s worth it.” I often share with my clients the discovery that I’ve made over and over: “Entrepreneurs are the true creators of security—especially if the measurement is satisfaction for work well done.”

Do not think you’ll be able to uncover your “calling” in no time – especially if your family members are freaking out about your depleted bank account(s). What’s required is a willingness to stay open and in action about gathering data and experience. Jumping right into the pool is not only a must, it’s a plus to keep you feeling the momentum that comes when you experiment with what works and what feels like work.

Making a transition doesn’t always move in smooth or linear ways. It can feel like e-Harmony or – there is rarely a “just right” feel right from the start. Just like Goldilocks, you might have to try a lot more porridge than you’d prefer in order to uncover what feeds you in a satisfying way.

For many of my clients, an exploration phase simply consists of gathering information, networking with Biznik events, looking at what successful entrepreneurs do to create their success, and seeing what you have to offer that continues to be interesting.

A good thing to remember is what my friend and mentor Barbara Winter says, “The business an entrepreneur starts with is rarely the one she or he finishes with.” As James, one of my clients in International Technological Sales, said,

“After working at Smith Barney in International accounts, I was afraid I’d never be able to keep up our family’s lifestyle if I shifted gears. When I started out, I wanted something less burdensome, I was tired of working from seven in the morning to eleven at night, being on call due to time differences, and worrying about getting woken up in the middle of the night and having to work the next day. I mean, I couldn’t even have breakfast with my family or walk the girls to the bus stop as my wife could do.

“I felt I was missing out on the very family I worked so hard to support; what was the point? So I started looking into exploring other possibilities. One of the places I had liked in the past was in Dubai.

Though I hated my work at the time, I loved the cultural diversity and how well my family was treated. I figure if I’m skillful in sales and international relations, there are hundreds of other ways I can put that to work in my own business. I’m just scared and I need someone to support and encourage me as I experiment.”

As James experience foreshadows, the experimental method of finding a better fit in work doesn’t necessarily entail guarantees or a nice orderly sequence of steps in which one side project leads logically to the next. Real work is involved when one wants to make a transition.

Calling up past acquaintances, interviewing happy entrepreneurs, attending events that interest you, putting yourself around people you admire and would love to work with, can be ways of supporting your experiments. But the trend is clear, small wins may be scattered, but what really matters is that they move in the same general direction—away from the stifling situation in which we find ourselves wanting to escape.

So much of the “right fit” is born of lots of little actions that can move you into more rewarding relationships (financially and emotionally). Just like finding a wonderful companion can happen out of the blue or by dating lots of toads — but certainly won’t be likely if you stay in your familiar comfort zone (rut).

As George Eliot tells us, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Why not start inventing where you might feel greater happiness. It can start with a guess. What helps me is to do that which brings me aliveness, because I believe that’s what the world needs, don’t you?

Jennifer Manlowe, founder of Life Design Unlimited<</b, is a life direction counselor and certified publishing coach helping people step out to authorize their lives. Her books can be found at,

Learn more about the author, Jennifer Manlowe, PhD, CPC.

Creating Your Own Destiny:  How to Get Exactly What You Want Out of Life, written by Patrick Snow, is my favorite self-improvement book this year.  Such praise proffered is saying a great deal because my blog, “Helpful Books,” reflects my very choosy appetite.  

As a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology and Religion, I think I’m able to separate the bogus self-schleppy, New Age fluff from the wisdom of the ages. I can tell when a person is pushing candy and when they’re sharing real life experiences that offer authentic encouragement to the reader. Creating Your Own Destiny is of the latter ilk. 

All 16 chapters of his book are chock-full of wisdom (both ancient and “kitchen-table”)—most of it drawn from Snow’s direct experience as an employee, husband, father, son, and entrepreneur.  He also mines his favorite inspiring quotes from those admirable people he’s tried to emulate (including his own parents).

Snow is a formidable optimist and a transparent truth-teller; he shares what works and the exact techniques he’s used (and still uses) to thrive as an author, speaker, book coach and business consultant.

Like those other “Honest Abe’s” in business—Stephen Covey, Martha Beck, Brian Tracey, Warren Bennis, Oprah and Laurence G. Boldt—Snow isn’t “selling” this idea of “creating your own destiny” as if it’s easy. He testifies to how hard won it is to be diligent in your aim to “follow your heart’s desires.” He humbly describes his own sense of failure and the lessons that came all along the way.

At one point Snow had a paper-route (as a second job!) to make ends meet and he often encourages readers to keep their current job while building up their own business and getting out of any debt. In no way does Snow promote a “wish-based” or “day-dreamer’s” reality. He invites people to dream big and to take action on their dreams or they will be living in a nightmare. 

It is clear to this reader that Snow is a person of integrity, fairness, service and faith. One cannot help but feel his passion for giving away his secrets of success—specific methods from his own past achievements and current dreams.

All of what Snow makes plain throughout this book reiterates these four winning elements:  Let yourself have a vision (dream); Put it down on paper within a realizable time frame (plan); Step up to the plate and live into the dream, (execute); and reap the benefits of your hard work and tenacity (soar)! 

Snow believes in his principled technology because he has been experiencing its benefits ever since he was a young man. His father encouraged him to write down what he wanted to see happen in his life (check back in on them and be grateful for the miracles that follow). This method has been working for Snow ever since.  

Snow clearly believes that his most profound learning has come from clarifying his aspirations, taking bigger risks, overcoming his greatest challenges–including what the naysayers may say–and getting clear on who it’s all for. His ultimate motivator is adding to the wealth of love embodied in all his relationships—especially his immediate family).

Many people gripped by financial fear and psychological insecurity do not think, “family first!” when it comes to creating wealth or insuring happiness. In fact, the pursuit of “abundance” can sometimes be a red herring for the rotting fish in one’s personal life and relationships. In fact, when one looks to Wall Street, popular culture, or even the outgoing administration (in 2008), we can see that principled solutions to most of our current crises are perceived to be a thing of the past. But, there is hope.

My favorite tenets of this book that are like no other, include the following:

1.  Unique questions about your inner-direction, priorities and past practices and plenty of room to fill in your own answers.

2.  A plethora of wonderful quotes to inspire the reader—I’m talking more than 321 of them.

3.  Humor and humility in equal measure.

4.  Honesty about the marketplace and the greed and ignorance that can rule when profit comes before people.

5.  Placing one’s priority on happiness within relationships, not just as a “successful” individual. So many “self-help” books begin and end with the “self” thus fueling the unhappy illusion that we are rocks, Islands, and legitimate narcissists.

6.  Though Snow is a “born again” Christian, he doesn’t push what guides him, in a religious sense. His advice seems to come from an open mind, one committed to leaving readers to find their own understanding to “destiny” and purposeful living.

7.  He urges those who want to make money to look at their spending, saving and investing habits and asks readers what they believe “more money” will do for them. I love the idea that people who make more money often spend more money and feel just as fearful about money-lack as the rest of the middle class. Money smarts doesn’t necessarily come along with a better income.

8.  Though Snow is an optimist, in no way is he naïve. He has clearly suffered many losses:  his childhood home was nearly burnt to the ground, his agility after a back injury at 18, his dream of becoming an NCAA football player for Michigan, his first few jobs after college,  a custom-designed dream home (in order to get out debt); and hearing initial reviewers of his CYOD manuscript tell him, “Don’t quit your day job, you’ll never make it as an author!” I’m sure he’s laughing all the way to the bank after selling more than 125,000 copies of his book (now in its 9th Edition).

9.  His nature as a person comes straight through his inspirational writing. He is clearly a person of great character –  true blue – not just red, white and blue (though he is that, too).

10.  He values loved ones and knows that he would not be here without those special mentors, teachers, leaders who’ve paved the way. Snow is clearly driven to make the world a better place by having more “enlivened-by-their-work” human beings truly living in it.

As you might have guessed, I strongly recommend this book and so do his readers–some from Nairobi, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico, Pakistan, India and Iraq. This book has been translated into many languages and appreciated by people of all ages.

It seems the perfect time to get inner direction, regardless of your context.

The sweeping changes in North American society would give any conscious person pause when considering positively affecting their future. Yet, the notion of counting on a secure marketplace or reliable employment is even more fanciful. 

Asking ourselves Snow’s important questions could not be more relevant for the 21st century. That his writing speaks to so many people outside the U.S. tells us that these principles are universal, timeless and enduring.

Snow did not invent his recommended methods nor does he take credit for them. He has simply identified, experimented, and organized them into a framework that nine to 109-year olds can test for themselves.

To order his book, go directly to his website.

If you like this book, you’ll like mine too: Check it out for yourself:  Manlowe’s Books!