I had a dream. I dreamt of a world where work was a vehicle for joy, not a place where we sat around waiting for the weekend or our next vacation. I dreamt of a world where people at work felt treasured, valued and seen to our core. What an opportunity for business leaders to create a better world, one employee at a time: by loving them.
I got clear right away that I'd have to publicly ask the elephant to leave the room. Just Google "love at work" and you'll find photos of fishnet stockings in black stilettos on a CEO's desk. No, I'm not talking about the adolescent definition of love, which centers around dating and romance and is reserved for only our primary intimate partner.
Love is the piercing adoration we feel for our children. Love is the swelling ocean inside our chest that pulses intensely when we stare into the eyes of our dying grandmother. Love is the fire inside our fingers when we are doing work that makes us feel alive. Love is the essence of who we are. Love is the greatest power on Earth. Love is the source of well being and the only real superpower.
And as I declared in elementary school, Love is my religion.
So I made business cards and a website. I networked and developed an assessment for companies to create a culture of love in the workplace. All the "right" people affirmed that this idea -- which doesn't belong to me, because ideas belong to no one -- was brilliant, highly innovative and cutting edge.
A year went by and there were no clients. I drove myself crazy wondering why. I surrendered twice. I looked within myself for every possible cause, shortcoming and solution. Nothing about it seemed to make sense. I couldn't figure it out.
Then I woke up. The dream I was having dissipated in the presence of my unrelenting willingness to own my true desire. And that is to love people through writing.
Yesterday three female venture capitalists and investors presented on a panel at the conference I was attending, Emerging Women Live. One of them said, "You don't need to look for money. Just create an awesome business and people will want to give you money." That's when it hit me. I don't have an awesome business. None of my businesses have been awesome. I have an awesome idea. Because that's what I'm good at: awesome ideas. Being a channel for ideas -- and essentially, Love -- to move through, and then sharing them with the world through writing.
ZA-BOOM. The whole world moved beneath me. One door closed. I saw my business card falling hundreds of feet off the Golden Gate Bridge, into the seaweed filled womb of the chilly Pacific, burying itself in the luscious layer of mud at the very bottom.
I am not an entrepreneur at heart, though I've started a few businesses before. I really couldn't care less about business. At its absolute best, it is simply a vehicle for human transformation. At its worst, it is an expression of enslavement to the dream of an economy that only hopes of benefiting life on this planet.
I am a channel. I am a thought leader. I am someone who genuinely loves all people -- and is learning day by day how to fully live that Love -- and I really like to do it in writing. That's what makes me feel alive. That is my art. That is how I'll go to my death bed with no regrets: living my art and my joy --> I am no different from anyone else, in this way.
However painful my own denial of this dream has been, however unnecessary the suffering, anxiety, and incessant attempts to f-i-g-u-r-e o-u-t w-h-y... It has all been worth it. Fuel for the dream, fuel for the pedaling up long hills on bike tours that will be required to enable this dream, muscle for the internal dance of strength necessary for living our own true desires.
I pretended long enough. How about you? What are you pretending not to know?
Our featured free recording for September is a 35-minute conversation with mailman Sean Lanham called Mailman Magic and the Power of Letters. You can listen here!
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a mother, coach, lifelong letter writer, and eternal fan of Mr. (Fred) Rogers. This deeply personal blog and our free recorded conversations are devoted to one of her greatest passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.