Do you keep in touch with your friends from high school?

I didn’t until recently when I got back in touch with a few. That’s when I discovered that some have gone on to become highly successful.

I visited one of them last week – let’s call him Paul – who is an architect. He gave me a tour of his office, and it was amazing.

He and his partner have close to 100 people on the team, spread over an entire floor and a half of the building in the coolest part of town. On his desk was a drawing for a gorgeous 25,000 ft.² house he’s designing for a client. Hard to imagine living in a house that big, much less affording to pay for and heat it, right?

It turns out that Paul is an “architect to the stars”. His client list is filled with A-list movie stars, supermodels and seriously successful business moguls.

He has built a multimillion-dollar business and a reputation as one of the very best in the business at what he does. And for Paul, at the heart of it is the art – he is doing what he loves.

At the end of the visit, Paul walked me to the elevator. As we turned to look at the door to his offices, he said to me, “That’s my life’s work in there”.

Wow.  One’s life’s work.

These are three words I haven’t thought about – perhaps ever.

Paul’s words stopped me “dead in my tracks” and made me think: what’s my life’s work? What could I point to and say those words about with pride?

  • A family photo album of my three kids and husband?
  • The lucites and tombstones from a series of investment banking deals, including the telecom “clean sweep” when we won 100% market share?
  • My business card from back in the day with the title Managing Director in one of the most competitive businesses in the world?
  • My website and blog posts?
  • The clients I have coached and people who have heard me speak?

In the end, I’ve concluded that I’m still a work in progress. I’m still creating my life’s work. And it may not be just one thing.

What matters is that I keep asking, keep thinking, and keep going.

So, what is your life’s work? Have you been doing it all along? Are you getting ready to do it? Is it just one thing? Where does it live? And does it bring you joy?

(Photo credit: “Monument to Change as it Changes”, Peter Wegner)