Behind All Great Work is a Memory

Behind all great work is a memory:

  • A memory of a pain you’ve suffered.
  • A memory of a success you’ve had.
  • A memory of a kindness you’ve received.
  • A memory of a moment you wish you could repeat.
  • A memory of a joy you’ve experienced.
  • A memory of a love you’ve witnessed.
  • A memory of a hope you’ve known.
  • A memory of a suffering in need of alleviation.
  • A memory of an injustice you can’t shake.
  • A memory of words that stay with you.
  • A memory of thirst that’s gone quenched.
  • A memory of harm left unattended.
  • A memory of healing that you’ll never forget.
  • A memory of a freedom unlike any other.
  • A memory of a delight that still brings a smile.
  • A memory of relief that you didn’t realize you needed.
  • A memory of a presence who filled a hole.
  • A memory of a conversation that changed everything.
  • A memory of an object that brought comfort or change.
  • A memory of hospitality unlike any other.
  • A memory of being welcomed and affirmed.
  • A memory of feeling important and valued.
  • A memory of having someone in your corner.
  • A memory of being supported unconditionally.
  • A memory of having the right thing right when you needed it.
  • A memory of having more than enough.
  • A memory of being carried, even if only for a moment.
  • A memory of learning something new that changes everything.
  • A memory of teaching that new thing to someone else.
  • A memory of being thanked for something you didn’t realize mattered.
  • A memory of being caught up in a moment and losing track of time.
  • A memory of a feeling of spaciousness in life or even in your physical space.
  • A memory of a problem that was finally solved (FINALLY!).


The memory of an experience.

Do you know what those memories are for you?

My wife, Stacia, will tell you a story about sitting at an old piano in her grandmother’s basement playing Elvis songs from sheet music and singing her heart out. She’ll speak of the feelings she had and the things she was able to express in and through that music.

Today she’s a piano teacher on the cusp of launching a tool to help music teachers around the world. Why?

Behind her work is the memory of a song and a feeling.

My friend Bryce* will tell you about the time he saw a sculpture of a giant spoon when he was just into the double digits. He’ll talk about how it made him feel as though anything were possible.

Today he’s a professional artist. Why?

Behind his work is a memory of a giant spoon and the experience it created.

My friend Kylie* will tell you stories about running around the house with the stereo on full blast, improvising movements to her favorite songs. She’ll tell you of the freedom and space she experienced in those moments.

Today Kylie is a dance instructor who just left the country to study dance internationally. Why?

Behind her work is the memory of a movement and goodness that it brought.

Today I will tell you stories about being lost as a 16 year old on a college campus with no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how to find my way. I’ll talk about the tension I felt with other students– wanting to be known but not wanting them to know how old I was.

I’ll tell you of the struggle in a job that didn’t fit, the words exchanged with a professor who didn’t believe in me, and the sense of relief when my friend Ryan said, “You want this for others. You keep trying to help us,” and affirmed that I, indeed, could offer the world a way forward.

Today I help you find your way through everything related to the Meaning Movement. Why?

Behind my work is the memory of some pain that I suffered and the relief that being seen and believed in brought.

The answer to the question of how to do more great work is to know the stories that give your work meaning.  These stories guide you into your places of deepest impact and meaning. These stories show you where to dig deeper. These stories guide you.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have those memories? Do you know them? If so, share a small vignette below.

If not, tell your stories. Come to know them deeply. And if you want help in that process, join us in the Calling Course. We’re digging deep into who you are to help you know what you should do. It will change you.


*These names have been changed to protect their identity. These are both clients in the Meaning Sessions.

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