Last week, I posted a meme on my business Facebook page:
"When a thing doesn't work out, it wasn't meant for you. Instead, your path is cleared for what IS meant for you."
This is a well-intentioned, coachy, mindset-shifting thought. However. I posted that meme, and then a little later, I listened to the latest episode of the 1619 Project podcast.
An awakening in a podcast
In this episode, two black farmers named June and Angie chronicle their story of biased farm loan practices in Louisiana.
As I listened to June and Angie's story unfold, I could feel June's love for and intimacy with the land as a sugar cane farmer. His family had farmed for generations, and his father was successful enough as a share-cropper to own a good-sized parcel of land toward the end of his life, which he passed onto his son June.
When you already know how to do the work you love
In this account, it was clear that June knew farming. He verbally detailed best practices, basic growing season calendars and ideal fertilization, planting, and harvesting timelines for the podcast team.
June was such a farm nerd that he precisely measured the amount of dirt cover he placed on his cane plants to determine the optimal amount for best crop yield, out-performing his father's practices in several seasons.
Yet, when June's father fell ill and June had to take over the family operation, the bank got wishy-washy (to say the least) with awarding him the seasonal loan that all farmers need to get their crops in the ground and growing each year.
These loan delays and shortages occurred despite June proving his track record as a farmer was second-to-none. June could prove he was a "good risk" as they say in the financial world.
Grieving the loss, finding yourself again
In the end, June ends up losing his land and farming operation after several seasons of spiraling run-arounds with the bank.
And, you can hear June's pain as he describes his loss. I mean, this guy described the sugar cane plants as his babies, for crying out loud.
The podcast goes on to detail the history of these loan practices with black farmers dating back hundreds of years, of course. At this point, I'll let you go listen to the podcast. It's alarming and informative, and necessary.
My point in recounting this experience is to expand the way I help people find and do the work you love. I've always maintained that it's possible for everyone to achieve professional fulfillment and relevance. I still believe this truth and have witnessed it in many of my clients.
How do we change a broken system?
But, what if there are other factors at play here? What if, despite your best efforts, education, and work ethic, someone tells you "no?" What then?
As a coach, this podcast made me think deeply about how I support and encourage my clients to reach for what they want, professionally.
As I move forward, I still subscribe to the idea that yes, we CAN all find and do the work we love. However, some people have more of a leg up on others in achieving their end-game.
In addition to encouraging my clients to think about, dream about, be curious about the work that lights them up, I'll also ask some new and different questions. I'll leave them here for you to ponder as you move closer to work that fulfills you and allows you to fully shine your light in the world.
I'm still so sad for June and that right now, he has to (drastically) re-tool how he shows up as a farmer in his current situation. If I were his coach, here's what I might say:
1. Have you had any experience so far where you've felt the world telling you not to do the work you love? What has that been like?
2. Let's take a look at what your options are within the current system. How can we think and act creatively to get you where you want to go?
3. What are the biggest changes you'd like to see in the current system surrounding your circumstances? What's one step we can take together to enact change?
4. How can I support and understand you better?
Clear the way for #work4joy for everyone
So, dear readers, I stand by my original meme. I still believe that when a thing doesn't work out, it is often a message that something better is waiting beyond that.
However, the "something better" may be a message to us all: Sometimes our professional systems are broken and we have to figure out how to evolve them from the inside, collectively.
Evolution begins with awareness. My awareness deepened this week. I hope yours does too.
Are you struggling because you feel like the world is telling you not to do the work you love? Schedule a Pay What You Want Coaching Session this week. I would love hear your story, support your process, and assist your success.
I KNOW that #working4joy is out there for you. Let's reach for it together.
Much love to you all.