Practicing Seeking

Handling Change and Stumbling Into Your Purpose

Change. The thought of it can either stir up excitement … or uncontrollable fear. Change can take place after careful planning — or it could pounce on you like a prowling leopard. COVID-19 pounced, and that pounce was merciless.

And just like that, life as we know it changed.

Life’s curveballs tend to knock us off our feet and push us into different directions. And yet, those new directions can often become deeply satisfying.

Historically, there’s usually a birthing of culture-changing ideas after a nation is hit by major crises. Obviously, the Civil War changed our country both during and after. Post-WWI, the Women’s Suffrage movement gained new energy. Seeds of the Civil Rights push were planted during and after WWII.

In business evolutions, American Express evolved from issuing the first traveler’s checks in 1891, to being a leader in luxury travel and moving further into the “prestige” card category. Netflix now is nothing like the original business model. Neither are Amazon, Nintendo, NatGeo, or many of the world’s leading brands. They’ve all reinvented against constant change.

Thus, whether as a company or an individual, the keywords around crisis and changing times are: “think outside of the box.”

Crises – big and small – push us into new (unexplored) territory, inspiring ideas and revealing our unique gifts. Gifts draw opportunities. These days, people who know how to sew are sewing much-needed masks. Distilleries have turned to making hand sanitizers. Those who have a heart to serve others are discovering entrepreneurship by providing concierge services, especially for the elderly. So what are YOUR gift(s)?

We found this interesting piece from Harvard Business Review on reinventing your career. Here’s an excerpt:

“You don’t need to limit your projects to the domain of your desired career change. Many people today are doing rewarding work and making surprising discoveries by engaging in crisis initiatives at their organizations or in community volunteer efforts. The point is to do new and different work with new and different people because that process represents an opportunity to learn about yourself, your preferences and dislikes, and the kinds of contexts and people that bring out the best in you.” (Emphasis, ours)

Another helpful article on when you know it might be time for a change in direction. An excerpt:

“While everyone’s job challenge was different, there was a common spine to the success stories I tracked. No one made a rash move. They made sure they had their financial lives in order. They did their homework and research. They asked why me, why now, why this product or service or job? What can I bring to it that will make a difference and bring meaning to my life? But the seed for the change began in a crisis.”  [Emphasis ours]

Back in the day at my church, whenever there was a testimony regarding a “silver lining,” my late mother would lean over to me and duly punctuate it with, “God always has a ram in the bush.” For the non-religious, this simply means that God (or whatever higher power you believe in) has something waiting in the wings to make the goal happen – an ace up the sleeve if you will. Sometimes, calamity forces us to rethink our assumed purposes. We face challenges and make tough decisions. Look around. See (or imagine) what’s next. At this crisis point, we can quite literally, “stumble into our purpose” for this new chapter.

The world is wide open for us right now. Let’s grab the possibilities – even if we stumble into them.

-Sharon Oliver

Photo: Jonathan Billinger via Wikimedia Commons






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2 comments on “Handling Change and Stumbling Into Your Purpose

  1. Great work, Sharon! Thanks for reminding us there is hope. Hope if we look beyond our now and search for uncommon solutions in a crisis. There is opportunity in a crisis to search within ourselves for more. There is more in us if we stop and take time to imagine; what if…


  2. Sharon Oliver

    Thank you so much, Vince. We’ve got to hold out for hope and yes, look for opportunities in a crises.

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