A Hankering in My Heart

From time to time, I experience a deep hankering in my heart. Sometimes it is a yearning for Africa, sometimes I long for a simpler life; most often it's an almost nameless desire to be living a life "on fire with purpose." As a physician business coach, I can only hope to create a ripple effect through my clients, as they increase their contributions to their communities, and sometimes the world.

From time to time, I experience a deep hankering in my heart. Sometimes it is a yearning for Africa, sometimes I long for a simpler life; most often it's an almost nameless desire to be living a life "on fire with purpose."

My most recent attack occurred last week on a plane between New York City and Los Angeles, shortly after putting down Richard Branson's autobiographical book “Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur." While I found his life story fascinating (you can read a quick book review article I wrote here), what really gripped me was the book’s last chapter.

Titled "Social Responsibility -- Just Business," Branson lays out his vision for leveraging the intellectual and financial resources, via creating interesting partnerships, amongst businesses, charities, governments, NGOs, and entrepreneurial people to change and improve the world.

He expresses his alarm at the state of the planet with its rapidly depleting resources, ever-growing consumption, potentially scary climate change, rampant diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS, and the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Branson expresses his thoughts about possible solutions, and issues a call to action to all business owners, asking us to work together to find solutions to these global problems … and here is where my angst kicks in.

I left a job as a doctor providing care to the underserved of rural Zimbabwe. I walked away from Africa to make a very comfortable life here in the U.S. I no longer provide medical care to patients.

How can I respond to this clarion call? What should my contribution look like?

As a physician business coach, I can only hope to create a ripple effect through my clients, as they increase their contributions to their communities, and sometimes the world.

As someone fascinated by “leadership” (having done some of that myself as a hospital administrator), I am acutely attuned to the difference strong visionary leadership will make in implementing a more desired future. I hope to lead some of you in our entrepreneurial “tribe” -- Seth Godin’s term for a group like ours -- to step up to playing your Bigger Game.

As a parent, I'm made even more aware of the responsibility we have of raising children, who care more about what others don't have than whether their household has an iPad or not (a small problem in our family, as we don't yet own one!). I am troubled by the intense materialism that I see around me -- and sometimes participate in (confession time)! I want to raise a socially aware and caring child.

As if to respond to my hankering, an email popped into my inbox the day after my arrival back in L.A. It was from Professor Srikumar Rao, author of “Are You Ready to Succeed?” and “Happiness at Work” and creator of the enormously popular business school program, “Creativity and Personal Mastery” (here is the syllabus). He was also a teleclass guest of mine a year or so ago. He’s offering his program in San Francisco in the late fall -- the first time it’s been offered on the West Coast for non-business school folks like you and me. His modest description (modest, from all that I have read) is, “The Creativity and Personal Mastery Program is designed to help you make a profound change in your life.” I’m planning on committing to this experience. Want to join me? (P.S.: I don’t gain anything by encouraging you, other than to get to spend lots of exciting time together!)

I'm deeply curious. What’s it your heart secretly or not so secretly yearns for? What does your "life on fire with purpose" really look like? And does it even matter?