Tuesday, January 26, 2010


“I'm starting with the man in the mirror; I'm asking him to change his ways.”
– Michael Jackson

2009 will be a year I remember for a long time. The year began with a dear friend of mine’s father passing away-- unexpectedly. He was in his late 50’s. Two months later, my mentor of twenty years passed away-- unexpectedly. He was sixty. And, in June, Michael Jackson passed away-- unexpectedly. He was fifty.

I almost feel silly to say this aloud, but it was Michael Jackson’s death that finally woke me up. He was only four years older than me and I remember watching him grow up on TV while I was growing up in Iowa. I love to dance and Michael Jackson’s music and dance style were an inspiring influence to me throughout my youth and early thirties. But, like many people, I had lost track of Michael Jackson in his later years.

The news of Michael Jackson’s death made me curious about what had become of him during the last decade. To learn more, I watched countless videos and interviews of him on the internet and started to piece together the story of his life. For years, I had assumed that he was a great entertainer who had fallen into the typical traps of fame and materialism.

I was wrong.

Sure, he was an entertainer and yes, he had his eccentricities, but more than anything, Michael Jackson was a humanitarian with a mission to make the world a better place. Entertaining people through song and dance had simply become the vehicle that served his mission.

Michael Jackson was ahead of his time. He wrote and sang songs about our planet and loving others long before it was fashionable. Off the stage, he was generous with his time and money. No one knows exactly how much money Michael Jackson has donated to charitable causes over the years, but one thing is certain: most everyone agrees he’s done more than his fair share. Michael Jackson has touched the lives of millions, perhaps even billions, of people through his words and actions; he accomplished his mission.

As I have examined my own mission during the summer of 2009, one thing has become clear to me: It is just not enough to be a good person walking around on the planet. I can do more. I can be more. And, my job where I work each day can become the vehicle for living out a bigger, more meaningful mission.

This past year has been a turning point for me. I like this picture of Michael Jackson because it was before Man in the Mirror and, possibly even before he realized his own mission. This picture reflects a time when he was still just doing his job as an entertainer and perhaps on the verge of his own turning point to a grander mission.

We can each decide to be on the verge of a turning point to a grander mission, too. I know that many people are challenged by the difficulties we’ve been through in the past year. Many people have experienced hardships and continue to face uncertainty. Our planet and the world economy continue to experience uncertainty and disruptive change. While it’s cliché, it’s true: Change is hard. But, if we are collectively focused on a singular mission, the work we do in our jobs day-to-day can become the vehicle by which we each contribute to making our world a better place.

© 2010 Lisa Ann Edwards

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