On the unbundling of work and identity, and the search for purpose
beautiful article kevin, never knew about that particular brooks book though i have admired some of his other writings. two years ago I left home and a high profile position in my labor union to come to alaska and do our homestead thing ( a disaster ) and hopefully focus on my writing... which for me was always where I feel that beautiful quote about " deep hunger"...much pain but think i'm on my way up the second mountain ... keep up the good work
latest blog about raising seven kids
Late to this conversation, but glad to have found it. I resigned a tenured faculty position at a private college in December. In some ways, that career defied the first/second mountain binary because it was both. I chose it because it offered both success and contribution. But you can end up in the valley when a purpose-driven career loses its purpose. In that case, I didn't discover anything behind the curtain. The institutional culture changed over sixteen years, the workload increased, and I brought a lot of negativity home. My job was the only reason we lived thirteen hours from family, so when my wife's business grew to the point that we could move without me needing to work, I quit. Seeing my three kids with their grandparents and cousin is worth it, but I'm not yet sure where I belong in this new scheme. I suppose it's hard for me to say that my old work falls under "shit that no longer matters," because much of it did matter. I'm squarely in the valley now, hoping to discover a way to be useful.
I'm so glad I discovered this.
I had to sit with this one for a bit as it really nailed a number of things I’m feeling right now, especially as I look back at the last 18 years of my career and project forward what I want the next 18 to look like (read: not like the last 18). I stumbled into healthcare which in the US is a large (20% of the economy) but somewhat provincial industry and I’m glad I’m in it. But it’s not my sole purpose. I (finally) feel like I’m finding more of that with a passion project while at the same time being kinder to myself in other aspects of my life.
I’ve also hated the question “what do you do?” I always tell myself that the next time I’m asked that, I’ll say “I run” or something cheeky as work should not define us.
Oh, and I loved your Carpenters Easter egg in there. Well played, sir.
Would love to see the first/second mountain model applied to couples where both partners earn a living for their family. How does the dynamic change? In my case, my wife would certainly like the scale her “first mountain” once the kids are old enough and are spending most of their days in school and extracurriculars. Curious, is the first mountain inevitable? Do we build the first mountain for ourselves? Dang, love this post. I want to go deeper!
Absolutely loved this post and it captures so much of what I've been thinking about over the last few years.