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Conquer the world or change the world?

I just did something that I never thought I would do; I turned down about a pay raise.  I guess when I say “never” I think I am speaking to the Greg from 5 years ago.  The Greg that was out to conqur the world.  I’ve grown up a lot since then and now I’m beginning to see what life is really about…..changing the world.

I turned the big 3-0 this year, I know it isn’t that I’m that old.  I hope I am about 1/3 of the way through my long life which means I still have a lot of time to contribute to civilization.  Steven Covey suggest we begin with the end in mind.  Asking what do you want the end, quite literally, to look like.  I’m not concerned so much with the end as I am two weeks, even two years or twenty years after the end.  That to me is when it really matters.  With population of the planet closing in on 6.7 billon who will notice that you ever existed once you have left the earth?

Over the last five years I have finished a MBA, married a wonderful wife, bought a house, and I was blessed with a beautiful daughter.   Many would say I have been living the American Dream.   I agree, life is good.  Hence would $20K make it better?  Maybe.  I’m not a fool, money is always nice and it certainly makes things easier but I know it will not make you happy.

John J. Chapman told the graduating class of 1900 at Hobart College “if you wish to be useful, never take the course that will silence you”.   (see page 45 of the ClueTrain Manifesto on Google Books for the full address)  The job offer was a very good one, at a very good company.  I would have been working with people I already know, like and respect.  It also would have been the “clerkship” Mr. Chapman warns against.  I would have to tell myself, “in a few years” which also too would risk not coming.

Having come to this realization I still cannot choose to maintain the status quo.  If I do then I was foolish in turning down the raise.  Certainly I did not have an epiphany two days ago and realize I’m not changing the world.   The job offer merely forced me to make a choice about what I want to become.  To be clear I am not advocating a presidential run or bringing world peace.  I am asking, what are you and I doing that is making the world a better place for our posterity?  I can continue the current path and everything will be okay, but I have decided to do something.  Now I merely need to find what that something is.

Please let me know what you think.