“No one can build a great dream until they have a solid foundation.” I heard John Maxwell share this wisdom a while back in a” Maxwell in a Minute” talk I received via email. At first, I thought it was ironic that “foundation” was the word he expanded upon since, at the time, I had just started my 4th ELDP rotation with the Aetna Foundation. But pondering over those words led to a deeper meaning.
For some reason, my mind went straight to the story of the Three Little Pigs. Everyone knows the story and, most importantly, we know how it ends. Three pigs built homes using very distinct materials. Yet only one pig emerged safe from danger while the other two weren’t as fortunate. Why? Because the materials they chose to build their homes with weren’t sturdy enough to withstand external danger. In their haste, they didn’t choose good solid foundational materials to build their homes. They were more concerned about the immediate promise of shelter and not their long term safety and well-being. Sadly, many people make the same mistakes professionally when growing their career.
To be successful, it is important to know what your foundation is and work in harmony with it. Whereas once I thought my foundation was title, prominence and a high salary, I have grown to realize my foundation is helping people achieve, grow, learn and lead healthier lives. Realizing this enabled me to make wise career decisions and to take advantage of opportunities that compliment my foundation, not work against it. While I realize my “foundation” may not be the material of choice for some, it is what works for me. Knowing my foundation gives me an opportunity to build a solid career for the long haul and not one that provides immediate prominence and monetary gain with little promise of long term satisfaction.