The New Career Series: Your Light

As a child, I remember singing “This Little Light of Mine” in Vacation Bible School.  My favorite part was when we got to sing, “Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine!”  I think I, in part, loved this section of the song because we got to yell the word, “NO!”  when yelling was hardly ever allowed in church or at any other place for that matter.


            Now as a career and leadership coach, I find that I love this part of the song because shouting a resounding “NO!” to hiding your “light” under a bushel is really what clients are seeking to do.    Equipping them with the self-discovery and exploration tools to find just what their light is and find a stand in which to put in on for all the world to see and benefit from is what we do.


            Unfortunately, there are lots of bushels in our way.   Some of the most common ones seen are the pursuit of career solely for the sake of money without a thought to what will bring about joy and fulfillment in one’s life.  Sometimes it is listening to all the voices around us, however well intentioned, telling us that this is the right path to pursue.   We don’t take the time to think about what we would enjoy, where we could make a difference, so we let our parents or a teacher or a coach make that decision for us.  We don’t self-reflect, so others decide for us or we end up in a place where we didn’t want to be because no thought was put into which place is best.  Or we choose a college because all our friends are going there or its our parents’ alma mater and we end up not thinking about how that particular institution is going to lead to a degree that helps us set about doing the work we want to do or if a college degree is even needed to do what we endeavor to pursue.


            This series is written to help you as a student walk down the self-discovery path to find a career, college and major that is right for you so you can let your light shine.   It frames your discovery off the talents, passions, and values you have on your horizon in order to make well-informed career and college decisions.   The purpose is of this is not to point you to just one right path, but show you how to focus the overlap of your talents, passions, and values into the place that allows them to come together to where your brightest light can shine.


            However, this series’ purpose is not to just make you have the warm and fuzzy feeling and false security of pursuing something solely for the purpose of happiness.  I’ll explain how everyone’s horizon is a marketplace for skills and talents and how to discern if the sun is rising or setting on some of the options that your horizon points toward.   After all, 80% of 2009 college graduates return home to live with mom and dad because they did not have a job or job that paid enough for them to live on their own.   We don’t want this to be you (and neither do your parents!).  College is too expensive today not have a game plan for maximizing its benefits before entering.


            Finally, this series will outline tools to help you reach the optimal point on your horizon. From how to set goals, develop a career portfolio, find internships, job shadowing opportunities and or mentors, and practice to make perfect, you’ll be left with a leg up for college and career.

            Why is this important?

            In the movie Coach Carter, Samuel L. Jackson plays a basketball coach attempting to turn a misfit bunch of players into a winning team.  Some players are not making their grades, which is a cardinal rule not be broken by the coach that puts first things first and focuses on accountability.  The coach chains the gym closed until the players commit to making their grades.

There are parents and teachers who disagree with this form of discipline and their disapproval all comes to a head in a school board meeting.  Coach Carter declares he will quit if his method of discipline is not supported.   By a vote of the school board, his methods aren’t supported and Coach Carter walks away from his job.

When he goes to get the chains from the gym doors, he realizes the players are there, not with balls in hand but sitting at desks in the gym studying.  When he walks in, one player stands up and says,


            “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous- Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.  There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We were born to manifest God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”


            We all have a light of greatness.  Sometimes it takes a disciplinarian coach, a loving parent, or a diligent teacher to point us towards our horizon and pinpoint our light. But, ultimately, it is each individuals’’ responsibility to understand themselves, understand the job market, and cultivate tools for success in order to shine.  We hope this series can be part of the equation that helps you sketch your horizon and unlock that light within yourself.


Because unlocking your light doesn’t just matter to you, it matters to us all.

Mary Ila Ward

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