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Want to Make a Difference? Here is How

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Photo by Blake Robinson Photography

Looking for a career that matters? Let me introduce you to Nicole.

Nicole is the daughter of a dear friend and former client of mine. As you can see from her photo, she is a true beauty with crystal clear blue eyes and a megawatt smile. What you can’t see is that Nicole is being treated for a life-threatening illness. Last fall, this tri-varsity athlete and honors student started her junior year of high school anticipating a year filled with AP courses, SAT prep and college visits.

What she got instead was a diagnosis of leukemia. And that’s not all.

Sixteen days after starting intensive chemotherapy, she developed sepsis and nearly lost her life. While in a medically induced coma, she suffered two strokes on the right and left hemispheres of her brain, affecting her motor skills and speech. She was left extremely weak, unable to move any of her extremities and required a tube for feeding.

What happened next was nothing short of miraculous. After being transferred to Blythedale Children’s Hospital,  and working tirelessly with her medical support team, Nicole gained enough strength to sit up, stand, and ultimately begin walking again. What was initially projected to be a five or six-month inpatient stay turned to discharge at the two-month mark. Blythedale termed her recovery, “unprecedented.”

Today Nicole is back living at home while continuing to receive chemotherapy treatments. She attends class whenever possible, works-out and is continuously surrounded by a wide group of loving friends and family. All expect that at this time next year, Nicole’s biggest worry will be having to decide which college to attend from the many sure to be vying for her attention.

This young woman inspires everyone around her  –  in more ways than she will ever know. But as incredible as she is, her progress would never have been possible without the support of hundreds of others.

And that brings me  back to you and your desire to have a career that matters.

To make a difference.

To give back.

To leave the world a better place than you found it.

All too often, people think the only way to do work that matters is to work for a nonprofit or become a teacher or be a nurse. All of those are indeed noble pursuits. But you know what?

The best way to do work that matters is to figure out what you do best and then go share your unique gifts with the world.

As I am fond of saying to my clients: “You don’t need to be Mother Teresa to make a difference in the world. Mother Theresa needed to be Mother Teresa. You need to make a difference by honoring your unique gifts.”  

There is no question that Nicole ‘s progress is due in large part to her outstanding medical  team. But it wasn’t the medical folks alone that pulled her through. You know who else made a difference?

  • Blake Robinson, the photographer, who took the stunning photo of Nicole posted above. Following the photo shoot, he received a note from Nicole’s mom that read in part, ” It was the best medicine to spend 2 hours at Nicole’s photo shoot.  I could tell Nicole felt really at ease with you. The pictures are so beautiful. Thank you so much for taking time to create a beautiful keepsake for her.  I have lots of photos from this time — of Nic goofing around, of her getting chemo, with groups of friends — but none that truly capture her inner glow and spirit, which you have so artfully done.”
  • Deb Gorman, the jewelry designer, who created the B+, Be Positive necklace that Nicole wears each day as a reminder to stay positive and upbeat as she continues this battle. Deb was inspired to create her jewelry line after her husband with diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) and given a 25% chance of survival. After receiving a stem cell transplant that saved his life, her husband’s blood type changed from A+ to B+.
  • Michele Graham, the writer, who keeps friends, family and fans informed about Nicole’s recovery on Nicole’s CaringBridge site. Even during Nicole’s darkest hours, Michele (who also happens to be Nicole’s mom) educates, inspires and even entertains us with her skillfully crafted writing. She has a magical way with words and I hope that someday she will compile her entries into a book that will help other families navigate this journey.

The list of people who made a profound difference in Nicole’s journey is almost endless. Very few of them work in careers considered to be helping professions, but their work matters. The cooks who prepare the food that nourishes her, the janitors who scrub her hospital room free of germs and the NY Giant’s linebacker, Mark Herzlich, himself a cancer survivor, who inspired Nicole with a visit – all make a difference by doing what they do best.

Take the time to figure out what you do best and then start sharing your gifts with the world. At a time when there are so many problems to be solved in the world, so many people in need and so much good waiting to be done, there has never been a better moment to start.

Get my Free Downloadable Workbook:

25 Questions To Help YOU Identify Your Ideal Second Act. You'll also receive my free newsletter filled with second-act ideas, tools and inspiration.

Get it Now!