Mentors, lessons, and opportunities are all around us. Not just at the workplace, but also within our families.

If you start to shift your perspective about the value of personal growth, you can start to see how family members can help you develop the skills and values that shape your life…whether by a positive example, or by showing you the value of what is missing.

My Grandfather had a deep and lasting positive impact on me.

He was an admirable man who grew up as a fairly poor, motherless kid, but died a millionaire who had built a legacy of giving to others. I still have a pair of his shoes.

Grandpa thrived on doing business to create something important in the world – both for himself and those who worked with him. He lived in the Philadelphia area all his life. People lived and worked in community together.

While he tried many different careers, his greatest successes were the investments he made in others. My Grandpa had a talent and a passion for taking the time to understand people.

He offered advice and encouragement, as well as financial backing and clear expectations, and he helped launch careers and improve lives, including mine.

Sometimes it was hard to hear his advice. I didn’t always want to return every phone call promptly, or be bothered by thank you notes and donating my time, as he insisted. But there was something about him…

Grandpa always was a role model for me. My experiences with him shaped the way I think about business as a way to help people.

After he passed, I looked in his closet to see if there were some mementos – something I could carry with me that would remind me of the bond we shared. He had done so much to help me become who I am.

Looking at the sparse closet, I was struck at how little “stuff” there was. They didn’t buy and replace things…instead they bought something once, and it lasted almost a lifetime. If it wasn’t of good quality, they didn’t buy it.

This may have been a strong contributor to Grandpa’s financial success. His employment and business ventures never were that profitable, but he invested his money well, and he didn’t consume much.

In his closet, I tried on a blazer. I have always been the one in my family most like him in terms of business, relationships, outspoken honesty, and this was my way to feel close to him. With my Grandma’s permission, I packed it in my bag.

Later, I went back to look for more. I wanted secrets, or hidden somethings—I didn’t know exactly what. Finally, I slipped on a shoe, literally following in his footsteps. The bottoms are worn smooth. The heels have been replaced–not surprising. He would rather have maintained a few pairs of good shoes than bought new ones when there was still life in the old ones. So I snuck his shoes home in my bag. Perhaps it was odd, I don’t know, but I wanted them, I took them, and today I am wearing them.

There is a warmth and comfort from wearing his clothing—it is almost as if I can feel him near me, encouraging me, guiding me.

Who we are is intertwined with what we do for a living.
Why not bring your deeper self forward?
Why not build what matters to you, wherever you are starting from?
Why not invest in what you want to see last?

You have so much to gain.
The organization you work for benefits, your community benefits, your co-workers benefit, and you show up in a way that true to yourself and your values.
That’s a life worth living.

Visit the Conscious Professional Blog for ways to find meaning in the work you do.

Jessica Hartung

Jessica Hartung is a partner, coach, and guide for those leveling-up their personal professional leadership, their teams, and their communities to a better future.

Jessica has a passion for inspiring and preparing people to grow from their work to improve their lives. In 1998, she founded Integrated Work, a consulting firm that brings top-notch professional development to mission-driven leaders, while being a learning laboratory for innovative work practices.

Jessica provides self-directed professional development tools to leaders at all levels striving to create positive impact.

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