Saturday, February 2, 2008

Go On And Do It

“It was like a game of Twister being played on a global scale,” remarks John Wood of his demanding travel schedule as an international marketing specialist for powerhouse computer software company, Microsoft. “The job was financially rewarding but full of high pressure and stress,” he comments in his book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, one of my new favorites.

Consider this excerpt from Leaving Microsoft’s first chapter:

“Seven years in, though, that nagging question continually popped up: Is this all there is-longer hours and bigger payoffs? I had adopted the commando lifestyle of a corporate warrior. Vacation was for people who were soft. Real players worked weekends, racked up hundreds of thousands of air miles, and built mini empires within the expanding global colossus called Microsoft. Complainers simply did not care about the company’s future. I was, however, increasingly aware of the price I was paying. Relationships-starved of my time and attention- fell flat as a result…The company could rely on me, but friends and family could not.”

I first encountered John Wood on an episode of Oprah. (Yes, I love to watch Oprah…when I can stomach the show’s content.) There to talk about his radical lifestyle change from marketing Microsoft to promoting worldwide literacy, I was impressed with his humility. Here was a man who had everything…according to the world’s standards: a positive upbringing, an ivy-league education, a high-powered career with the ultimate in financial reward and infinite opportunities to travel the world. Yet, his lack of the word, “I” in the interview provoked a huge grin on my face. He credited nothing to himself…

-Not his education
-Not his rise in Microsoft
-Not his “get away from it all” trip to Nepal where he first met Pasupathi, a Nepalese man in charge of locating resources for rural schools in his region.
-Not his encounters with the children there, eager to learn, yet stuck in a place grossly absent of even the most basic school supplies
-Not his conviction to fulfill a promise to Pasupathi who asked, “Perhaps, sir, someday you come back with books.”
-Not his decision to leave Microsoft
-Not the use of his entrepreneurial skills to found Room to Read, a non-profit organization whose vision is to, “provide the lifelong gift of education to millions of children in the developing world.”
-Not the rapid growth of Room to Read, which has now provided over 4100 schools and libraries for those in need in Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia and India
-Not Room to Read's astounding success, a non-profit, “with the scalability of Starbucks and the compassion of Mother Theresa”
-Not even his book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, an Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children

No, the book jacket inscription reads, “This is dedicated to my parents for teaching me to love education, to take risks, to believe in myself and to serve others.”

Basically, John Wood’s entire experience can be summed up in his revelation, “I was put on this earth to do more than make myself better off,” and in his courage to act upon that premise.

When Oprah Winfrey asked Mr. Wood how he might encourage others, the absence of a canned formula for success made my smile widen even further.

“Whatever God gives you to do…go on and do it,” Wood responded emphatically.

Wood insists it’s that simple. Yet, I believe it is that profound.

“Whatever God gives you to do…” assures that there are many different tasks to be completed on this earth and that we are all gifted differently by God. Not all are called to be life-giving world entrepreneurs. Thank goodness. I’d be horrible at that! It seems that John Wood was made for such a task, however.

What task do you feel “made” for? What is it that you feel a passion to do? When do you feel most fulfilled? John Wood isn’t referring to something you feel “obligated” to do. Nor should we compare our gifts to others’ talents. Finally, Wood doesn’t suggest that your life’s passion comes responsibility-free. What Wood has discovered, instead, is that when one’s gifting meets purpose and service, magic happens. Motivation appears. Energy abounds. Excitement builds. Balance is achieved. Others are influenced. God is honored.

What are you waiting for? If you haven't already, take Wood’s advice and, “Go on and do it.”

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8

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