You’re going to be a senator. I would vote for you!” I remember hearing those words when I was about fifteen years old. For whatever reason, those two brief statements came from an older lady of my community. She made those comments in passing, but they stayed with me for the next ten years.
During college, I majored in political science. I believed the best route to impact injustices could come from service as a government official. Experiences and education taught me more about US politics, and I decided to take a different path.
Last week, the United States mourned the life of Congressman Elijah Cummings. For twenty-three years, he served in Maryland’s seventh district as a member of the House of Representatives. During his time in office, he advocated for reforms in criminal justice, addiction programs, and gun legislation. He passed away on October 17, 2019, and thousands gathered together to remember his legacy.
I enjoyed reading about how others recalled his service. Multiple accounts confirmed that Cummings led with integrity. His staff members said he believed in democracy and took his role as a public servant serious.
As reported in a USA Today article, Cummings had a unique approach in identifying candidates to work in his office. He insisted on being present to interview every potential employee. Before the end of the interview, Cummings asked each person about their reasons for working in politics. After their response, he often followed up with, "But… what feeds your soul?"
Cummings asked people a central question that we should make time to answer. It's easy to choose professions or businesses because they meet financial needs. You should also ask yourself, does your current job or business give your life a deeper meaning? If it does, then you're on the right path to fulfillment.
If your work does not “feed your soul," but leaves you hungry for more, this is the time to make a strategic pivot.
In October, I listened to three books. I enjoyed T.D. Jakes’s books, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, Destiny: Step Into Your Purpose, and Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Each of these books provides compelling stories and insightful life advice that can empower you to reexamine your personal and professional roles.
Elijah Cummings fed his soul through the services he provided for Baltimore residents. He participated in protests for victims of police brutality, such as Freddie Gray. Cummings wrote a biweekly column for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. He left behind a favorable legacy in the eyes of many underserved communities.
What will others say about you when it is your time to leave this earth? I often ask myself that question. When I discover things I don’t like, I make adjustments. While I don’t live my life only for the approval of others, I hope my family and friends will remember that I lived with purpose and strived to be the best version of myself in every capacity.
Today, buy one of the valuable resources mentioned in this post. The books, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, Destiny: Step Into Your Purpose, or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change are great investments. They have the potential to help you gain clarity around many of your daily activities.
May Congressman Elijah Cummings (January 18, 1951 – October 17, 2019) rest in peace.