Saturday, November 01, 2008


A few weeks ago I attended a personal development seminar called Lifebook.

Never heard of it? Neither had I. You can check it out for yourself here if you'd like.

It was a work deal. Since I will soon be advising Lifebook on their marketing, and writing some kick-ass copy for their targeted direct campaigns, they decided it would be a good idea for me to experience their seminar in person. Who was I to argue with that logic? So I went.

What is Lifebook?

Lifebook was a concentrated, 4-day motivation/development seminar conducted in the comfort of a place called the "Lifebook Lounge." The lounge is a nicely renovated space in Chicago's warehouse district near the Lake Street El train, which you can hear rumble by about every 15 minutes - a sound I imagined was water rushing like a great waterfall. This delusion helped me keep the mood.

At around four grand, the Lifebook experience is not a middle class adventure. I considered myself privileged to experience it for free, and decided to make the most out of it. I put work aside and submerged myself in the experience.

I won't bore you with the details about the program here, but I will say it's markedly different from other personal development programs you may be familiar with. Instead of a Tony Robbins-like guru giving a pep talk, or some fancy new age way of thinking, it's a systematic process for evaluating your life across 12 different categories. A comprehensive life review, if you will.

At the end of the 4 day process, you come away with your Lifebook, which is a leather-bound guide to the person you smirk at in the mirror when you've had too much wine. That's right - it's the handbook to you. Your life. Your dreams. Your roadmap to success. Needless to say, everyone's Lifebook is different because it's written by you, for you. It's you giving yourself permission and instructions to do the things you were meant to do so you can achieve the things you want to achieve. Not earth-shattering stuff by any stretch, but an organized, helpful way to frame the life you have now so you can one day realize the life you WANT to have.


The biggest realization I made over that long weekend, and I did come to a number of realizations about my life, was that I lack vision. Always have. I don't plan for the future because I can't see it. I don't even try. I just go day to day reacting to whatever life throws my way. Sometimes life is good, and sometimes life sucks. But that's life, right?

I realized that I've managed success in large part because I'm a smart kid with a good work ethic. I catch on quick and I care what people think. I try. That made me the best cashier at the grocery store when I was 17. Made me the best bellhop at the Chancellor Hotel back in college. Made me the best, if only, copywriter in Champaign, Illinois after I graduated college. Made me a successful person at pretty much everything I've done, if an unfulfilled one.

It dawned on me that I wasn't working toward anything. I didn't have any goals. I just showed up for work every day and did my job. There was no game plan. No road map. Just the motions to go through. It was kind of depressing, actually.

So I began an exercise in self-reflection. I started thinking about who I am and what I bring to the world. What is my value? What do I enjoy more than anything? How would I spend my time contributing to the progress of society if salary weren't an issue? What's my talent? What's my gift?

I discovered that, by and large, my talents and gifts and contributions have been marginalized by the career I've chosen. Instead of doing what I enjoy - entertaining and enlightening with amusing essays, poignant observations, and insightful prose - I've been churning out marketing mumbo jumbo for corporate clients for over a decade! What a waste. And despite the successes I've enjoyed, I've been largely unsatisfied with what I do as a "professional."

So there I was stepping out of that 4-day seminar, which I'd only attended as a function of my job, realizing that I what I needed most in my life was a NEW one.

And so it begins, on page one of my Lifebook - the search for a better fit. And if I work as hard at that as I have the other jobs in my life - from grocery clerk to bellhop - I may just realize my true life potential.

One can hope, anyway.

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