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Chapter 1
Take This Job and Love It

Keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any condition. This is not an affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition. Try as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question. Does this path have heart? … One [path] makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse life. One makes you strong; the other weak.

—— Carlos Castaneda

A middle-aged “a ju shi,” as shoeshine operators are commonly called in Korea, was stooped over a pair of black, worn loafers for what seemed like an unusually long stretch. The man’s much younger customer grew more and more captivated by what could only be described as a remarkable attention to detail.Never in the customer’s experience had anyone put so much effort into a simple shoeshine.

Turning to the a ju shi, the client asked curiously what motivated this man to painstakingly visit each seam and crevice on what must have been a sea of shoes that ebbed by his stained bench each day. Barely adjusting his gaze from the loafers, the man offered this explanation: “Every time I shine a pair of shoes, my kid gets to go to college.”

Whether or not he recognized it as such, the man had extraordinary Noble Purpose — something today’s most successful corporations prize as the quintessential building stone for establishing a strong sense of corporate social responsibility. This simple man, who probably never traveled more than 50 miles from his birthplace, knew that his legacy would be measured not by the sum of all the loafers he shined in a lifetime but by the opportunity his daily toil brought to his family.

Each time the man dipped his rag into a bucket of shoe wax, his son was closer to becoming a professional — perhaps even a doctor who might one day return sick children to good health. By virtue of his selflessness, the man was rewarded with absolute passion for what some small-minded individuals might see as an undignified living.

What motivates you to show up for work? Is there more waiting for you at the end of a 40-hour workweek than a paycheck? Are you capable of a potentially big contribution that you can’t seem to get off the ground? Do you embrace your work life with the a ju shi’s passion, or are you merely laying low until retirement?

As children, we often dream about growing up to become astronauts, professional athletes or famous actors, yet very few of us ever reach such lofty heights. Somewhere along our professional and personal life’s journey, we accept a much more pragmatic existence, often based on the opportunities at hand.What we do with these opportunities speaks to the very core of who we are and our humaneness to others.

Indeed, Noble Purpose lies within each of us regardless of our social standing or chosen career. Our smallest deeds and words may make a difference not only to our family, friends and coworkers, but quite possibly the entire world.

If you have not yet discovered your Noble Purpose or if you are in touch with your Noble Purpose but you have not been able to satisfactorily bring it to the world, then this book will assist you in manifesting the discovery of your purpose and the means to realize your purpose. The wherewithal to bring your Noble Purpose to fruition lives within, waiting to be revealed and released. This book is essentially about you, returning to your essential self, discovering the perfect wisdom you can contribute to others, fulfilling that which is seeking expression within you.

Many of the great men and women who have gone before you were profoundly in touch with their Noble Purpose — scientists like Jonas Salk, poets like Emily Dickinson, authors like Shakespeare, composers, philosophers, statesmen and dedicated shoeshiners. There is only one absolute: True Noble Purpose must offer the potential of great benefit for someone other than yourself. This doesn’t mean that you must always act in a selfless way to have Noble Purpose. However, working with a Noble Purpose that benefits someone other than yourself will allow you to be powerfully rooted to society as a whole. Imagine that today is your last.How would you be remembered? Would your purpose be as selfless as the a ju shi’s?

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