Consumers are overwhelmed with the variety of product choices today and seek out brands and companies with authentic stories. Successful companies that honor their true, heritage, like Apple and Whole Foods, have the best stories. Business consultant Simon Sinek says, ‘People want to know why you do what you do before they will pay attention to what you do and how you do it.’
I believe the same is true in our personal life: The person who lives out his authentic story, who has a ‘why’ that goes beyond his vocation wins life’s real prize. However, many stumble into their stories amidst growing up, college, marriage, children and career. People often find themselves busy, stressed and overwhelmed, drifting with the strongest current.
A good friend, Howie Silverman, found his true story. After a fast track career to senior executive in his firm, he discovered his ‘why’ and made a dramatic career change. He’s writing a new story and winning in the game of life. Here’s his story and how you can find yours.
What am I doing?
Howie was on the career fast track, having rapidly worked his way up from entry-level to senior executive at a successful marketing research firm serving customers like Home Depot and Coca-Cola. He managed the firm’s Atlanta office, loved working with his staff and helping them succeed. The office flourished and enjoyed high satisfaction from clients and employees.
But Howie felt unsettled, wondering if this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life? Life Coach, Gary Barkalow asks his clients a similar question, ’Are salary, position and advancement the best markers for success?’
Finding My Story
Howie trusted that God is good and believed Jeremiah 29:11, ‘I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord … to give you a future and a hope.’ He joined a group of men who shared a desire to be better husbands and fathers, to understand what it means to walk with our Creator and to live life with passion and without regrets.
Finding his way forward required remembering where he had been. When Howie was twelve, his father was ill and in a fit of anger, blamed twelve-year-old Howie for his illness. A month later his father died and Howie believed he was responsible in some way for his father’s death. Howie carried that unwarranted guilt throughout his teenage years and beyond.
Howie later forgave his father but realized the guilt he carried had wounded his spirit and he wondered if any good could come from that difficult chapter in his life.
Listening to My Heart
Howie listened to his heart, God, family, friends and a new identity and desire began to emerge. He discovered his why: to help others along their journey drawing from his own life challenges. Lisa, his wife had said before, ‘You would make a great school counselor’ and this time it sounded right. Howie got excited about a new direction: Helping students find hope as they grow up and offering life and career advice as they launch into college or work.
Overcoming the Challenges
At 43 years old, Howie told his firm he was leaving. Howie said, “It was one of the hardest things I’ve done.” He went back to school while his wife Lisa went back to work. He became ‘ Mr. Mom’ to his two children. “Being a full-time Dad to my kids was a great blessing but there were times when school became overwhelming. I said ‘I can’t do this’ more than once,” said Howie.
Howie learned to trust God through his fear and doubts. “Lisa was a great partner and helped me handle the challenges one day at a time,” said Howie. God’s blessings provided hope along the way: Howie’s firm offered him a generous financial package. Friends stepped in at different times meeting unexpected needs. When Howie’s job plans fell through 6 months from graduation, another opportunity opened up.
Celebrating a New Chapter
Two years after leaving his firm he finished school and joined Fellowship Christian School as a Guidance Counselor in December 2013. Today Howie offers life and career guidance to students. He’s also coaching the 7th and 8th grade football team, another deep love he discovered along the journey. And best of all, he is spending more time with his family including taking off for summer break with Lisa and children, Cole, 11 and Kennedy, 9.
How to Find Your Story
Here are the steps you can take to find your ‘why’ and true story:
• Listen to your heart. Be aware of the defining voices and people that have entered your story; the moments when you felt most alive and felt lost can help you discover what’s true about you. Listening requires ‘unplugging’ from the day to day busyness. Proverbs 4:23 says, ‘Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.’
• Recognize you’re in a battle. After Howie left his firm and started school, he faced financial challenges, fears and doubts. Your true story will be opposed and clarity of purpose is only the beginning of the journey. All battles require a strategy and weapons to win. Ephesians 6:13-18 says, ‘Put on the full armor of God …”
• Take the journey with a few good friends. Find friends you can trust with your story and can encourage you along the way. John Eldridge, author of ‘Wild at Heart’ says, ‘Don’t even try to take the masculine journey without at least one man by your side.’ Battles require training and are usually lost when fought alone.
• Celebrate the adventure, share your story and repeat. Celebrate the beauty of the journey and rest along the way. Share your story with others and repeat the steps above.
Os Guinness wrote, ‘Instead of ‘You are what you do,’ calling says, ‘Do what you are.’ The best stories are told by people who know who they are and do that. Howie found his why and his true calling. And the ultimate beneficiaries are his family, friends and the students of Fellowship Christian School.