My Career Does Not Define Me – The Giving Keys

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June 30, 2017

My Career Does Not Define Me

I was given this little black key with the word COURAGE engraved on it Christmas 2016. It was a gift from my partner of 17 years, Paul. Paul, knowing me so well, knew it was the word that I needed.

Recently, I had taken on a new role in my company I had worked for years. I was not sure that this role I was going into it was in my lane. This new undertaking was feeling not right before it ever started. This COURAGE key was a visual reminder that I had this, and could achieve this new position at work. I wanted to believe in this word and let it seep into my daily thoughts.

I wore this key around my neck most days. On those rare days that I did not wear it, it was placed on the ironing board so that, as I did that daily mundane task of ironing my dress clothes, I focused on the words and pressed out what seemed like all of my doubts about myself and my ability.


When I was deep in worry about my new role and the pressure that came with it, this word COURAGE would present itself daily. There were many ways that COURAGE had to be addressed. I let this word COURAGE live with me for months.

What Paul and I did not know was that the word COURAGE would take on a different meaning. What started out as COURAGE to challenge myself led me to what I have always know about myself: My career does not define me. My life defines me. I have the COURAGE to walk away from a position, the title, and the worry if I am doing enough. All that does not mean anything to me if I am not feeling like I am not living my life. My relationship, friendships, and sense of purpose is not driven from a 60+ work week.

Gail, as your dad enters the arena to do battle with cancer, I want to give this COURAGE key to him. I believe COURAGE is just one of the many words he will need on this journey. This little black key gave me such clarity about my life. I hope it will do the same for him.

-Doug

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