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How meaningful work saved my life

Thinking out loud, channeling my inner Brené Brown, TED speaker and the NY Times best-selling author of four books including the one I’m currently in mid-read, “Daring Greatly – How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead.”

On Dec 27th, 2009, my son Hudson was born. It was the perfect pregnancy, and the perfect delivery (as observed by me, a father by his wife’s side). We could not be happier – we now have two children, a daughter and now a son.

January 5hth, 2010, after being home with us for 9 perfect days, everything changed. Hudson had turned to a light shade of blue and was rushed to the Children’s hospital. Within just 4 hours of arrival, he was now pale, bloated by fluids from multiple IV lines, cold to the touch, and in cardiac arrest.

What we did not know at that moment in time but would very quickly find out was that Hudson had a critical heart defect which was preventing his heart from distributing oxygenated blood to his body.

The medical term for his condition is called a critical Coarctation of the Aorta.

As I watched our son lay there lifeless, on the table in the pediatric intensive care unit, flatlining… as the medical team calmly and skillfully performed CPR… I prayed…

“God, please save my son. Save him and you can take me. My life for his. I have lived a full life. I’m perfectly at peace with this trade. Save Hudson. Take me. Please.”

I prayed… “God, please save my son. Save him, and you can take me. My life for his. I have lived a full life. I’m perfectly at peace with this trade. Save Hudson. Take me. Please.”

That was 7 years, 3 months, and 30 days ago.

Today, Hudson is alive and well, and so am I.

I have to tell you, on the day I prayed – save him, take me – I honestly thought my days were numbered. I assumed that I was literally trading my life for my son’s. Surely it was only going to be a matter of (short) time before God would come collecting payment.

In fact, I would wake up some days and actually think to myself, “I wonder if today’s the day I pay up?” I would get dressed, prepare myself for the day, and before walking out the door I would purposely kiss my wife and kids, and tell them I love them – after all, what if today was the day?

I did this solely so they would remember the last thing I said and did so that they would know, every day, that I loved them.

Nobody expects today to be their last day

Nobody expects today to be their last day… but I did. Morbid, maybe, but that’s how I felt. I made a deal with God – he spared my son – and I was prepared to make good on our agreement.

Nobody expects today to be their last day… but I did. Morbid, maybe, but that’s how I felt. I made a deal with God – he spared my son – and I was prepared to make good on our agreement.

I still am, today.

For the next four years, I would continue to think, “Is today the day I die?”

Then one day I stopped thinking like that all together.

What I want to share with you is that before today I have not shared the following thoughts publicly. Privately, one and one, yes. But not publicly.

You see, a couple of years ago, sitting in church, listening to the Sunday message (that I can’t recall right now) it inspired a new found internal narrative. “I believe God did take me – not to die, not as a ‘this for that’ or ‘my life for his’ kind of thing… but ultimately to do ‘meaningful work’.

“Look, Vince, I put you on this earth to do more than take up space and suck air. Your work has value. Your work has meaning… now get at it already.” – God.

It begs the question in my mind, what if the whole time God was saying, “Look, Vince, I put you on this earth to do more than take up space and suck air. Your work has value. Your work has meaning… now get at it already.”

At the time of the trade (January 5th, 2010) I was really only ‘existing’ in life, not actually living life. For the reasons of how, what, and why that caused me to feel this way I will explain another day.

What I fee has happend is,

Ultimately, however, life took on a whole new meaning when I chose a path of meaningful work

My work has saved my life. Maybe not in the literal sense that God was about to strike me down if I didn’t pursue meanful work… but in the sense that what I do I truely value and cherish.

Today I am a professional business coach… even a TEDx Speaker – something I would never have guessed would happen five years ago. I do what I love and love what I do, and I do it with complete confidence, intention and believe that my work will make a positive and measurable difference in the businesses and lives of others.

My work has value. My work is meaningful work. My work – in fact, anyone’s work for that matter – has the ability to inspire and empower others to live life on their terms.

Sometimes I find that things (life) get hard. Really hard… and that’s okay. You will rarely if ever hear me complain. If you do, you have my permission to remind me of the trade I made.

My son is alive. I have my wife and two children and that’s all the fuel I need to get out of bed and do meaningful work.

I challenge you – do what’s meaningful to you. Who cares what others think, this is about you? Life is a whole lot easier when you do work that’s meaningful to you, even when it’s hard.

Question: What does meaningful work mean to you? Share your thoughts here on LinkedIn, or on Facebook and Twitter.