By Kay Caldwell
A few years ago when I was still with Southwest Airlines I hired Jim Whitt to speak at a meeting for my reservation managers. At the time I didn’t realize what an impact this connection would have on my life. A couple of years later I left Southwest after spending 22 years of my life there and was asking the question of, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” I was sharing my dilemma with Jim and he told me I needed a copy of his book, The Transformational Power of Purpose: Finding & Fulfilling Your Purpose in Life. I had no idea what this would do for me.
I began the journey of finding my purpose using Jim’s book as my guide. I hate to admit it but I got stuck on the very first exercise in the book which requires you to write your autobiography (a condensed version, of course). So, I picked up the phone and gave Jim a call to see if he could offer some advice on how to get unstuck. He told me to think about the people and events in my life that helped mold my character. Well, that would narrow my autobiography down to only about a million pages! It was emotional but as I wrote I thought about the many people I have known — some I needed to thank (some I needed to forgive!) and several to remember always.
One major thing that stood out to me in Jim’s book was a quote from author Po Bronson about people who found their true calling were the ones who “broke away from the chorus to learn the sound of their own voice.” I realized that was really the reason I left Southwest Airlines — a company and a group of individuals that I truly loved and had grown up with — I had to leave the choir to find the sound of my own voice. My voice had gotten lost in the chorus and I no longer felt control over my own destiny. Think of it this way, when your voice becomes too enmeshed with others, your individuality is squelched. You’re singing from someone else’s songbook. It’s their song not yours. If you are not in agreement (harmony), you have to compromise your voice to fit in. Compromise only works when your belief system is on the same scale — musically speaking.
When your belief system is challenged awakenings begin. As I worked through the book I discovered my purpose is “to help others learn to stand in their personal power.” That unleashed my power, my voice, and my inner spirit. I started to feel like me again. Reality set in for me as I began to determine how I would fulfill my purpose. Finding the sound of my own voice has given me a new beginning allowing me to pursue my passions. I’m not winding down — I am just getting started with the rest of my life. It reminds me of the words of that great Frank Sinatra (or Elvis if you prefer) song: “Regrets, I have had a few, but then again, too few to mention, but more, much more than this, I did it my way.”
What is your way? Do you know? Only you can determine what you believe. In your current role, review the goals, thoughts, ideas and processes, and then decide if you are experiencing your purpose through your personal power. If not, choose to change your circumstances. When you break away from the chorus to learn the sound of your own voice don’t be surprised where it might take you. The fact that you’re reading this is a testament to where it’s taken me. I’m now a writer, speaker and consultant who is helping others learn to stand in their own personal power.
Have you learned the sound of your own voice? Ask yourself, what is your purpose in life? Do you feel the power within? Your power within is a gift meant just for you. Your personal power is your spirit, boldness, genius and magic designed just for you. Exercise It!