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Thank you Microsoft for all of the amazing memories, friendships and a lifetime worth of learning about business, technology and perhaps most importantly, a lesson on how to work together with others to achieve a common vision. It’s funny how the skills I learned in grade-school about how to cooperate and work well with others ended up being the most important ones in my career.
I joined Microsoft over 13 years ago – as an intern. Towards the end of my internship, I was given the offer to join full-time. After exploring some other career options, I figured what the heck – Microsoft would be a great place to spend a couple years (at most!) before going to get my MBA. I never imagined that a 20 year old would be given so much responsibility anywhere else. I accepted! The MBA never happened. I was learning a ton on the job and fell in love with Seattle and the company. What I thought to be a short stint turned into much more.
During my career I worked on mergers and acquisitions, new business models, product naming and branding, pricing, market research, product planning and finally, business planning for our retail channel. I’ve traveled the world, met with Fortune 500 companies and CTOs, worked as an individual contributor and been a manager of several different teams. I worked on line of business software, productivity software, enterprise services, consumer services and operating systems. I couldn’t have asked for a more broad-based and educational experience.
I can say without question that happiness in the workplace is directly related to the person you work for. A boss means everything. I’ve been lucky to have many world-class managers. Thank you to my past managers: Paul, Marc, Jason, Jenna and Bernardo. You gave me the latitude and flexibility to do my work as I saw fit and apply my own creativity, with just enough guidance to stave off disaster. You looked out for the business and also for my own well-being. Thank you for that.
I am leaving Microsoft to travel the world, see the American country-side and witness my life through a different lens. I’m not leaving to join any other company – as most people would think. I don’t have a startup idea or some other business venture on the side. I am simply resigning to do something now that I thought I wouldn’t be doing until after I retired.
Most importantly, I am lucky to have the chance to go on this great adventure with the most special person in my life – my wife Alison – before kids or further obligations come into the picture. For my entire adult life my identity has been largely defined by Microsoft and the Seattle area. Aside from heights, the only thing that scares me is the idea of living a life wondering “what if…” I’m going to find the answer to that question.
So here I go. I’m going to spend the forseeable future (a year? maybe more?) living a different type of life that is free of daily work, and full of whatever else comes to mind. Some days will be great, others will be tough. This vagabond style of life is not going to be forever, but it is the right thing for now. As a 34 year old, I have many more years of my life left to work (and plan to!).
For now, it is time to get my but out on the road while I am healthy and able.
You can follow our exploits at www.raviandalison.com.
It’s also a time of year when gyms and health clubs are packed and hordes of people are crowding the organic produce sections at the local grocer in an attempt to clean up their diet, their bodies and their overall health. Yes, it’s that time of year – resolution time. Even though history shows that the vast majority of resolutions set at the beginning of the year go unfulfilled – people still go through the process of setting them and then charging out to achieve them with reckless abandon.
For every person you meet who has a clear goal and direction for some aspect of their life, there are another 9 who are going through life aimlessly.
This is not to say that they may not be successful, happy or fulfilled. It is just to point out that not everyone lives a purpose-driven life.
Life just happens, and people seem to make the best of it.
I see this often in my workplace, with very few having any sense of where they would like their careers to head, just taking it day by day and hoping for the best. I also see it in the gym and in the yoga studio, where people just go through the motions, making little progress.
If you were going on a grand voyage….the biggest and most massive adventure (as one might use as a metaphor for life which is the grandest adventure of all) would you not at least start with a purpose?
When I get in my car, no matter where I am going, I at least have some sense of why I am in the car and where I would like to end up. If I didn’t have any idea, I would not get in the car to begin with! On the occasion (rarely) when I just drive around aimlessly, even that is done on purpose.
Why then don’t people take the time to consider what the purpose for their own lives are? This could be a simple purpose for their job, their family-caring and home life, their fitness plan, yoga practice, etc.
If I ask a half dozen people on the street to clearly state at least 1 goal in their life right now, I doubt any would be able to do so.
A purpose can even change over time. It does not need to be “right.” The point is to just have one. Why? Well, here are five reasons why I feel it is critical to have a purpose driven life:
- If you are not growing you are dying. Without progress in some aspect of your life, you are not just staying still, but regressing. When you understand the reality of this world and that all living things are slowly evolving, you are either evolving yourself or falling behind.
- Harness the untapped potential of your brain. The brain is a deletion machine. Of the millions of pieces of information that your brain captures in each day, it doesn’t keep everything. As I wrote in my post about vision boards, having a goal helps you focus your brain to notice things that will serve you in the pursuit of your goals. There is massive power in this, and takes no conscious effort on your part.
- Inspire the people you care about most. Achievement isn’t just about you. As you focus and work towards a goal, you’ll see that your efforts will in turn inspire others to look inward and cultivate their own character and ambitions. They say actions speak louder than works and your own purpose-driven actions will indeed speak volumes and influence those you care about in a positive manner.
- It keeps negativity at bay. The more you work to towards a positive end, the more you will notice that you have far less negativity entering your life. It is simple accounting. If you are consuming your thoughts, feeling and actions with energy directed towards a positive intent, you will have fewer mental, physical and emotional cycles to spend on things that drain your body, mind and soul.
- It is incredibly fun. Yes, making progress is fun. With a clear goal and purpose that is a stretch yet achievable, you’ll notice that each day will become more fun. It’s a pleasant byproduct of a purpose-driven life.
I could go on for days writing about how important it is to have a purpose-driven life. Remember, it is not so critical to figure out your overall and grand purpose for being on this planet! What matter most is to just focus on one thing (or a few things) that you feel is a positive and motivating ambition. It can be related to your family, body, finances, career, etc.
Just pick something, focus on it daily, work towards it sincerely, and watch what happens.
Don’t worry so much about the end, that is to say, don’t worry about the outcome. Just keep working towards the goal with confidence and see what manifests in your life. You’ll be amazed at the results, even if they end being something that you didn’t quite expect.