Consolations of the Week

It’s been quite a week. Besides the joy of seeing a new Pope emerge, my week has been blessed with many gifts where different people offered me much to be grateful for.

The first are a bunch of new students and a new colleague. Instead of our usual spring break plan of organizing and taking students on an alternative spring break experience we decided to concentrate on what we do well on those trips which is helping people focus on the reflective elements of these trips. The University was already planning to do a fee alternative break experiences of their own and they invited me to be part of one of them. It was a “give where you live experience” in Buffalo. Each day the students went to a different service organization in Buffalo that served the needs of children and teens in the area. They even asked me to set up a day of service at our parish school which had our students being teacher’s aides for the day and another group painting sets for the kids’ upcoming performance of “Annie.”

The highlight of the week was working with a bright young woman named Baylee. Fresh out of undergrad, Baylee is working on a graduate degree at UB in higher Ed administration and she planned and organized the trip and trained the two student leaders, Kate and Erica who were also amazing. Each night I’d gather with them to help deepen the experience through reflection. The students had some amazing insights and the full day I spent with them at St Joe’s was a heartfelt reminder of how much they have to offer to people who are in need of their gifts. Baylee really did a wonderful job and was gracious enough to invite me into their space and gave me an opportunity to witness to all the good work that had been done. I had great conversations with the students over meals and evening hang outs, hearing about their relationship struggles, their homelike and their college experience alongside the service experience.

I was also able to offer them a brief tour of our church building. And nearly all of them signed up to do service projects with our campus ministry in April. One student even said she was inspired to go back to mass after the tour of the church and many others were certainly thinking about it. In our “highs and lows” of our days one student said, “Without a doubt, my high was the church, cause I haven’t been in a church in sometime and it was so peaceful and beautiful. I’m glad I know it’s there.”

Yesterday, I traveled to New York City and spoke at my old stomping grounds at St. Paul the Apostle to a group of about 60 young adults at their group called Apostolist. It was a networking event where lots of business cards were exchanged between people. I got to talk about my book, Loving Work and sign a bunch of copies. Lots of inspiration was flowing and I could see the wheels turning for people. It was interesting to see so many people who were looking to deepen their experience of work and many who are hoping to change tracks in their career. Fr. Steven Bell, CSP invited me and it is always great to spend time with him and his dynamic personality. He introduced ,e and it was the first time I’ve ever been referred to as a “Titan”.

So all in all, much to be grateful for. I also get the opportunity to see my parents, my best friend, my college roommate, celebrate a dear friend’s birthday and spend time with friends who soon will be married. A fun-filled two days in my hometown that has already renewed my spirit.

Today, let us pray for the gift of inspiration and renewal in our lives. Come Holy Spirit and renew our lives with hope and energy to be able to be men and women for others. May St. Ignatius intercede for us in helping us to find God in all things today.

And it is St Patrick’s Day in NYC….a great day for a parade!

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Remembering Marty

My friend Phil Giubileo, over at the Play by Play blog took some time for some memories of Marty Glickman, the famed New York radio sportscaster who I came to know well during our undergraduate days at Fordham. He was invited by the acclaimed Bob Papa, now the voice of the NY Giants amongst other things, to become our broadcast coach at Fordham during our activity period. It was a rare chance for a bunch of young broadcasters to be tutored by the man known as the “Dean of Broadcasters.” Marty had invented much of sports radio play by play broadcasting and was one of the first “jock sportscasters” after being a track and football star at Syracuse and being named to the 1936 Olympic team only to be snubbed by anti-semitism.

Marty was a great guy and was a great mentor. You’d look forward to his praise but you’d invite his criticism as well. It only made you better and he was quick to make your mistakes obvious. If you fell behind a play he’d point it out. “I heard that whistle 3 whole seconds before you called that guy down!” When on the radio sometimes it’s easy to get lazy because you know nobody else is watching the action that you are–especially obscure teams that aren’t televised. You don’t have to “call the play” as closely on TV because the action is right there. But on radio, description is key and Marty gave you no slack in giving descriptions of ballgames.

Someone would say “That was a great play!” And Marty would scream, “That word doesn’t mean anything! It was a GREAT play–well, WHY THE HELL WAS IT GREAT?” You’d then sheepishly tell Marty that the player made a leaping one handed grab. And he’d say “NOW THAT’S a description. Have those words ready.”

I tried pretty hard to be a broadcaster and fell short of “the dream” of doing it full-time as a career with a major league team. The truth is that I just didn’t love it as much as some of my classmates and colleagues. I was always being pulled away by ministry. When I started to consider leaving broadcasting someone asked me why I got into the business in the first place and I was able to summon two reasons.

The first was that I wasn’t a great athlete in high school but loved playing and being around the team. I knew a lot about sports and we’d all sit on the sidelines and talk until we got into the game. So I had some natural talent that other guys would encourage in me. I kept score and knew the nuances of the game and I had a good speaking voice. I did PA announcing for the football and basketball games and would often call it play by play back then–not really understanding the difference between play by play and public address announcing, but it got me sharp. So I pursued that as a career in college.

The second came from Marty. And I tell this story in my book Loving Work. Marty was a master of description and so I asked him how I can improve this skill for myself. He said to me, “You know what challenges me? Each year I do a circus on the “radio for the blind”. Man that’s tough. I mean how do you describe an Elephant to someone who can’t see what it is?” Marty had invited us college guys weeks later to a dinner held in his honor for a Syracuse University Scholarship named for him. It was at Windows on the World in the World Trade Center and I was seated next to a man who was blind. Marty developed a friendship with him for many years and it was that night that I asked him how he knew Marty and he simply said, “Well, Marty’s been my eyes for over 50 years.”

I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. Everything else didn’t matter. I vowed to keep people like this guy in mind every time I was on the air. Description was paramount. Beth Kelly was no longer just a Sophomore forward, she was an apple cheeked Irish colleen that stood 5’8″ tall. Damon Lopez was a barrel-chested 6’8″, 240. Even names were described well. Mark Blazejewski was pronounced BLAH-JA-EFF-SKI. All stuff that Marty taught us. Uniforms–what were the colors. Michael Kay on Yankeee games talks about the interlocking “NY” on Yankee hats–where do you think he learned that? Of course, at Fordham, from Marty.

But it was my altruism that was exciting me, not the thrill of being on the air, or in sports. And I could feel Marty whispering in my ear that it was OK to leave and to follow what you were clearly more called to do.

Often Marty’s best advice was stuff that he taught us outside of broadcasting: Stay fit, eat well, always wear a hat, but never indoors to stay warm in the winter and to take care of one another. When asked what his greatest achievement was, Marty never hesitated: “Marrying my wife.” Marge Glickman was a wonderful woman and Marty had married well. He recalled that when he got his first sponsor, he took that money and Marge and him “got married on that money.” Then the sponsor dumped them. “But we stayed married!” he quipped. “For better, or for worse, for richer, for poorer. And all that stuff. We learned that early.”

Marty was a champion of seeking out higher values. Besides his experience in the 1936 Olympics, Marty was decisively anti-gambling. If you mentioned a point spread, Marty would get all over you. “You don’t need to contribute to gamblers!” he’d yell. He once told us that his father lost the family business gambling and so he had made a decision that he was not going to support gambling in any way. He hated the environment around boxing and told us to be careful around that element if we got involved with broadcasting boxing.

I wonder what he’d think of broadcasters today. He hated Dick Vitale’s style on College Basketball and the entertainment value of broadcasting is now much more paramount than the journalistic value at times. I often think he’d understand that, but hate it at the same time. I do think he’d love the internet and would encourage us to develop our own shows without the bureaucrats running the airwaves. Something about the democracy of the internet would appeal to his sensibilities I think.

A final story: I had a deja vu experience of Marty when I had graduated from Graduate School at Fordham. As many of you know, my father is an Irish immigrant. He never went to high school, never mind college. He worked hard to send me to school and I was able to make it to the next level with some help from Fordham and from the Paulist Fathers. He was very proud of me that day.

After the ceremony the Dean came over and met my mom and dad and sister and he already knew Marion, my wife. He said to my father, “Michael is one of our best students, we’re very proud to say that he’s a graduate of our school today and to have your family with us today.”

My father beamed. And then I remembered Marty telling nearly the same story about his mother and a Syracuse professor who came and said “I must meet the mother of one of my favorite students.” His mother could only afford to come to graduation from the city and Marty welled up…”My immigrant mother could never imagine that such a learned man would say anything like that to her! That’s why Syracuse is so special to me.”

And Fordham to me. Not only because of that one story.

But also, because it was there that I met Marty Glickman.

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Albany Loves Loving Work

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn blogged about my book at There Will Be Bread her amazing spirituality blog at the Times Union in Albany. She talks about her own struggle with career change.

Let me be clear – I did not hate my old job, in fact, I loved many things about it, especially the people the people that I worked with. However, in my new job, despite the lack of prestige, pay and privacy, I could not be happier. I am loving work. And loving work is also what I do, because the work of the church is to love. This makes me one very lucky person!

Spiritual director, campus minister, and author Mike Hayes explores this kind of transformation – and how others might set about doing the same thing, in his latest book, Loving Work. (Orbis, $16.00, 120 pp.) For Hayes, it is not just about loving what you do, but it is about being who you are – and that includes bringing loving into the work that you choose to do.

In full disclosure, Mike is a friend, and I was asked to provide a cover blurb, which I will restate here. After reading the book I said, “Some books are kept for a long time, because they nourish the soul or they are practical guides… Mike Hayes offers us both things with great wisdom in a book that you will want to keep.”

Infused with sound Ignatian spirituality, warmth, wisdom, humor and a tremendous amount of insight, this book offers a way forward to better work – and a much better life. Whether pointing to practical details and planning, or focusing on our relationship with God, we are shown the value of the importance of seeking work that feeds the soul, as well as work that creates our living. What struck me most is the no-nonsense approach that Hayes’ employs, which is direct, yet incredibly human at the same time. His experiences in business, spiritual direction, and campus ministry are all pressed into excellent use in this book.

One of my favorite chapters is called, “If You Could Be Anything.” Sparing no details, Hayes discusses his own crisis of the heart with clarity. Despite his successful (and longed for) career in radio broadcasting, something is just missing. No stranger to the world of faith, his two worlds begin to align as he explores his own “anything.” The results have led him to where he is today.

These are tough times, and getting a new job is not all that easy. And perhaps that is what makes this book more important than ever. If we can’t really achieve what we thought was our dream, perhaps that should truly compel us to discern and claim what our true work might be. Risky? Sure. But if we don’t try, how do we ever know the greatness that we are called to?

Amen! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Ignatius reminds us that we are not merely to “follow our heart”. Rather, our hearts inform our heads and that helps us to make a more informed decision in finding out what will best suit our personality in terms of finding work that we love.

I loved writing this book and reflecting on it this semester has renewed my own love of my work. This has been a great semester that will soon come to close and it reminds me how exciting ministry can be.

So thanks for the plug, Fran and for the morning reflection. Fran’s giving away a copy of my book, so if you don’t have your copy yet—head on over to her blog and try to win one or just head to Amazon and buy one for everyone in your family for Christmas so they can make great New Year’s Resolutions.

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Should You Follow Your Passion or Will It Follow You?

Today’s article from Cal Newport in the New York Times gives all of us a great opportunity to reflect on our own career choices.

The author comments on not subscribing to the “follow your passion” means of career discernment, but rather a more Puritan-like work ethic of working hard at whatever you do and then get better at whatever that might be.

Had I subscribed to the “follow our passion” orthodoxy, I probably would have left during those first years, worried that I didn’t feel love for my work every day. But I knew that my sense of fulfillment would grow over time, as I became better at my job. So I worked hard, and, as my competence grew, so did my engagement.

Today, I’m a computer science professor at Georgetown University, and I love my job. The most important lesson I can draw from my experience is that this love has nothing to do with figuring out at an early age that I was meant to be a professor. There’s nothing special about my choosing this particular path. What mattered is what I did once I made my choice.

To other young people who constantly wonder if the grass might be greener on the other side of the occupational fence, I offer this advice: Passion is not something you follow. It’s something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world.

I wonder if he’d feel the same way if he were say, a cashier in a fast food joint instead of a computer scientist?

Some work out of necessity, not deriving joy from it, but rather a paycheck. The question I’d have for those people is what’s beneath the drive for working at their job. Couldn’t they collect welfare or unemployment and avoid the stress of a low paying, sometime demanding job? Perhaps pride gets in the way here, but I believe there’s another driving force that keeps those people from quitting.

It’s called passion.

While some might not have their passion fulfilled by their career, they may choose to follow an advocation or a similar side-occupation. But they find these passions not by apathetically and mindlessly falling into a job.

No, they find it by looking back on their lives.

What has driven you to passion? Can you gather all the moments that you’re proud of and see if they connect in some way? Maybe a pattern has formed and you NOTICE an underlying passion to all the things in your life that have been meaningful.

These are the things my latest book, Loving Work, discusses and I even give you a method to use to help discover your passion–which again might be a career and might not be.

But it is a passion nonetheless. And some of us make a living doing this and some of us work to be able to spend time on our passion.

But our passion isn’t something that we stumble upon. Instead we stumble when we fail to notice who we are….

And more importantly who we are becoming.

To order my book Loving Work…click here.

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Praise for Loving Work

The illustrious Fran Rossi Szpylczyn gave my book a nice pop on Amazon.com.

Not so many years ago, but in what seems to be another lifetime now, I was a successful corporate executive. Today I am not unsuccessful, but my life has taken a different path; I am a writer and I work for the Catholic Church. Am I still successful? Depends on your definition, I suppose! I’m going to say yes, because I am “loving work.”

As I began to chart another course in life, I pursued certification as a personal and career coach. Then came the pursuit of an advanced degree in ministry and the work to go with it.

So the idea of pursuing – happily – the work one loves and the work of love, is at the core of my being.

In full disclosure, I was privileged to read an early version of this book, and I was thrilled to do so. This slim volume is packed with power and wisdom from someone who has navigated his own passage from one type of work to another.

This book will be a treasured companion for those who read it. I can imagine giving it as a gift to those who are seeking their way in the world, particularly for those freshly out of college. At a time when jobs can be scare and hope in short supply, Mike Hayes’ insights will help them to discover that it is possible to find the work we love and to love the work we find.

If you’ve read the book consider leaving a comment or two on Amazon and if you haven’t read it yet—well, what are you waiting for? Order one today.

Honestly, I loved writing this book. It’s a short, quick read that’s filled with many stories from my radio days and from my ministry where I make the connection between living a life that you were born to live, that God gifted you with and merely going through the motions.

My favorite story in the book comes from my days at WFAN where I found myself working extra hard at the station’s radiothon for the CJ Foundation for SIDS–a wonderful charity founded by the then-station’s GM, Joel Hollander. Looking back on that experience led me to consider ministry more deeply. Read the whole story and then ask yourself where God might be calling you in your work.

Thanks for all the support with this effort. I got a nice note from Fr. Dave Dwyer inviting me to be on his show on Sirius-XM, so we’ll let you know when that happens.

Speaking of invitations, I am available for individual spiritual direction and retreats based on the book as well. Simply email me.

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Enjoying the Right to Be Free and Work

On this Labor Day, my friend Paula Kampf reminded me of the rights of workers to be free. And that kind of reminded us of this song:

My book Loving Work has been published and released on this fine day when we celebrate work. It makes a great gift for all those who have worked hard to give you life, like my Dad (who the book is dedicated to along with my mother and my Jesuit Spiritual Directors), or those in your life who are seeking work and discovering who they’d most like to become.

Labor is always difficult. That’s why they call it work. However, it need not be draining. A job well done requires a bit of blood and sweat and tears. But that too, can bring joy and happiness at seeing a job well done.

So today, reflect on your work. Do you love what you do? Is it time for a change on the job? Might you discover something new about yourself and your vocation by just a brief reflection on it this fall. My book is just what you need to do that.

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Loving Work Now Available on Kindle for Pre-Order

If you have a Kindle or the App then you can order my new book, Loving Work, on Amazon.

Here’s a little contest for you. Tell me why you need a copy of Loving Work and we’ll pick 3 of the best answers and send you a free copy when the book comes to print.

The book tells lots of stories of some of the roadblocks I encountered during my own discernment from leaving my career in broadcasting and entering the world of ministry. You’ll read a lot of backroom radio fodder (like the time I ran into Michael Jordan in the locker room and it literally changed my life, but not in the way you’d think).

You’ll learn how a Jewish man taught me how to do Ignatian Discernment and how people I see in spiritual direction often teach me something.

Mostly, you’ll learn a bit about the difference between deciding and discerning—where is God in our decision making process? I’ll help you figure that out.

But first you have to enter the contest. You can do so by email (Mike.googlinggod@gmail.com), Twitter @GodGoogler, or Facebook.

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Your Pearl of Great Price

Warren Eckstein, the world famous pet expert, was once complaining to me about something that he didn’t like that was going on at the radio station we worked at together. He suddenly stopped himself mid-sentence…

“I should stop complaining. I could be digging ditches somewhere.”

This past weekend my colleague, Bonnie, who acts with me at the simulation center, made an astounding remark. We were both a bit sleepy on an early morning assignment and Bonnie said:

“You know, there are days I don’t want to go to dance class. But I then start to think how fortunate I am to be living in the United States and that I have the opportunity to go to dance class. Because if I were living somewhere else, I’d still be a dancer. I just wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Both Warren and Bonnie are people who make their living by engaging their passion. Warren’s been doing it for decades and Bonnie is just in the springtime of her career. But they both have made a decision to live for what keeps them passionate. Warren can’t imagine a life without animals and Bonnie couldn’t imagine not dancing or acting.

They found their pearl of great price and despite struggle they can’t imagine parting with it. To do so would negate an integral part of themselves, the way they have chosen to express their joy to the world.

I suppose I feel the same way about ministry. And it took me a long time to be able to say that.

Because you see many of us bury the pearl of great price that we find. For me, I was having all these rich experiences in retreat work and in parish life as a volunteer. I just never thought it was worth the risk to go into ministry full-time. Strangely enough, my media prowess didn’t come into full force until I made that switch to ministry.

My upcoming book, Loving Work, is about a month away from press. And we discuss this very topic, the subject of today’s Gospel parable from Jesus. I found this line interesting:

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

Well, sure! Of course the person does that. But what of the person who buried it to begin with? Why would he bury something so precious? Or perhaps it wasn’t so precious to him or her after all?

A lot of people thought that my great pearl was working in New York City radio. It was fun, to be sure. I was good at it, certainly. But I didn’t start setting the world on fire until I made a switch to ministry. Even later in my ministry career I had to realize that my passion is being a pastoral person and not a media guru. I use media now, for a pastoral means and not for media’s sake (or profit’s sake, for that matter).

What might your pearl of great price be? For many, it just might be right under their nose. We tend to complain about our jobs, our relationships, and a whole lot more. But deep down, haven’t some of us just forgotten how much we love the people and the careers that we have already? Where did we first stoke that passion? How might we recapture it now?

Or is something else beckoning, that treasure that we’ve hidden safely away and that we might be afraid to dig up again? For to do so would require risk on our part and perhaps a bit of painful change. I remember thinking that I wasted time by staying in my radio career so long. But I also think that radio prepared me for so much and I made so many great friends and colleagues and have some really rich stories and experiences now from those years. (Many in my new book, by the way).

What is your pearl? Where might God be calling you? Are you too frightened to follow that call? What else prevents you from doing so?

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, my favorite saint. I leave you today with his words:

“Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.”

Amen.

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1000 Twitter Followers@GodGoogler

I’m up to 994 followers on twitter. Be # 1000 and get a free copy of my next book Loving Work once it is released.

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Pre-Order Loving Work…my Second Book

In November, my second book, Loving Work will hit the presses and I couldn’t be more excited. The folks at Orbis Press, especially the famed Mike Leach, have been great to work alongside.

This is a book on career discernment. It is slightly auto-biographical where I tell my story of how I transitioned from radio into ministry and then a bit on the move from Busted Halo® to Campus Ministry. Mostly though it’s a self-help book on how to discern what you might like to do with your career as you move forward through life. It’s a great book for young adults discerning first careers but an even better book for those of you who have a career and are looking to move forward but can’t seem to know how to get there. Think of this book as the 2012 version of “What Color is My Parachute.”

How’d I decide to write this one you ask? Well…it’s the book I wanted to write for some time now and it sprang forth from a workshop I’ve been doing called “Does God have a plan for me?” you can check out that workshop out on you tube.

So some of the stories are repeated in the book and others are brand new. We all learn by story and much like my first book, the stories are at the heart of this book.

So pre-order this and drive up my Amazon rating and then rate the book when you get it in November.

Oh and if you’d like me to come and do a workshop on this or a retreat–or perhaps you’d like to start your own discernment group but aren’t sure how to do that, then email me and we’ll talk. Let’s make a deal.

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