The Desiderata's Timeless Wisdom
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
Momento Mori - Remember Death. I read this poem at my Granny's funeral. It always reminds me of the beauty in life and of the importance in staying interested in our humble careers.
At my Granny’s funeral a few years ago I stood up in church and read this poem to the gathered family and friends. Funerals can be beautiful moments. This was one of them. We celebrated the life of a brilliant woman who had bought so many of us present gifts of wonder, humility, service and patience into our lives.
This poem remains my favourite to this day. The quote on the front page of my site is taken from it where it refers to keeping interested in our careers ‘however humble’.
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. .”
I love the idea of keeping interested in our careers. As they are a lasting possession in the changing times we live in. It’s true. What else do we leave the earth with apart from the legacy we leave behind. Whether or not we like it the legacy that most of us leave will be our careers.
I’m using the term career broadly here. For me it encapsulates nicely ‘life’s work’. I’d even put in family, creative pursuits and friendships into what I’m calling ‘career’. For me it’s the sum total of you and your impact on the world.
It’s a massive honour to be working with individuals and organisations who are interested in their careers. Together we shift blockages, remove limiting beliefs and ensure there is a path forwards that feels good and fulfilling.
Last week I spoke with a London based entrepreneur. He’s working on some fantastic projects but as they grow he has a habit of loosing control and they veering off in a direction that he never thought would happen. We’ve coached around his resistance to speaking his truth and to standing up for what he believes in when push comes to shove.
For me it’s these kinds of inner emotional blocks that are the real cause of difficulty in our careers. Once we can seem them clearly, and have some support in moving beyond them, our behaviour shifts into a more natural, spontaneous and productive mode.
We shift gear our piece by piece our world transforms.
None of this happens overnight. Somebody leaving their job is not one single massive scary decision. It’s the outcome of 1000s of tiny decisions. One of them might be, at some point, to get in touch with a coach to talk things through.
If you’re interested in your own career and on where it’s taking you then let’s talk. I create two hours each week for new connecting conversations. Occasionally some o them turn into coaching clients but most don’t. Either way I love the opportunity to get under the skin with somebody new, to understand what drives and motivates them, and to see if there is a way I can help them move forwards.
Consider, for a moment, your funeral. The Stoics had a phrase ‘Memento Mori’ - Remember you will die. They used this as a tool to keep them focused on living a good life, on being grateful and on not taking anything for granted.
Are you taking your career for granted?
To be able to die in peace; what legacy will you leave the world?