Last night, I attended the Beaufort International Film Festival’s Award Ceremony. My husband Landon, a retired Marine Colonel, presented the first-ever Patrick Conroy Lifetime Achievement Award, which was awarded to Dale Dye.

Actor. Writer. Icon. Hollywood Legend.

Mr. Dye is the man who single-handedly changed not only the way military movies are made in Hollywood, but as a result, the way the world sees and understands the military experience as presented on film.

How did he do that?

According to Mr. Dye, he came home from Vietnam (where he had been a Captain in the Marine Corps) with a vision. He wanted to change the way the military was depicted in Hollywood movies. He wanted them to show the “real deal” and not the cleaned up, antiseptic version of war. He wanted movies to depict the sacrifice, the suffering, and most of all, the inextricable bond that gets created when men and women learn to rely on each other in battle.

So he headed to Hollywood.

Hung out on Hollywood lots, until he was hauled off. Couldn’t get to the producers or directors. Did he give up? Did he go and get a job? No. He simply changed his tactics.

He decided to work through the writers, who he said were more accessible. According to Mr. Dye’s colorful story, one night he entertained a Hollywood writer over dinner (and drinks!) until he convinced that writer to share Oliver Stone’s telephone number with him and wrote it down on a napkin. (I love the fact that he didn’t try to reach a lesser known director. He went to the top.)

Then what? Did he wait until he had a position paper to present to Mr. Stone? A video? A presentation? Nope.

Mr. Dye called Oliver Stone a couple of hours later, early Sunday morning, and told him what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to help filmmakers create realistic military movies. He wanted to create a kind of boot camp for the actors to simulate the same kind of training that military men and women experience, both so that they could understand the hardships and sacrifices, but also the intimate bond that occurs when relying on each other in extreme circumstances. He wanted to create a “Band of Brothers.” (Yes, he was an advisor to that film.)

Oliver Stone agreed to his proposition. He sent young actors like Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Tom Hanks and others to Mr. Dye for this training. It worked. As a result, we got movies like Platoon, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan and countless others. He went on to work with some of the most talented directors of all time.

One man. One vision.

He changed Hollywood. And, he helped to shift the perceptions of millions of people around the world when it came to understanding war and the military experience.

He refused to stop.

He refused to give up. When he hit a dead end, he didn’t think “I failed.” He created a new strategy.

He always believed. And, he turned his vision into a reality.

Think of what he did. What does this mean to you? What lessons can you learn from his example? What can you do to bring your creative mission forward? How committed are you? How dogged are you? How convinced are you? Let Mr. Dye inspire you. He inspired me.

3 Keys to Meaningful Work

Over the years, I’ve heard my clients tell me that they want to do meaningful work. They say they are tired of just showing up in their cubicle (even if it is an office) doing the same thing, day after day.

Deep down, they know they are capable of more. Contributing more. Making a bigger impact.

There are 3 things that you must know if you want to be successful in creating work that’s meaningful. Keep reading...

3 Keys to Create Meaningful Work

1. Define meaningful work.
Lots of people talk about wanting to do meaningful work. It sounds cool, compelling. But what does that really mean? I have found that each of us defines “meaningful work” differently. Specifically:

What does meaningful work mean to you?
What are you looking for from your work?
What gives work meaning?

Take 5 minutes out of your day today and answer these. Keep writing. You might be surprised by what you write. I was.

2. Showcase your talents.
If you truly want to do meaningful work, you’ll want to use your talents. That means you’ll have to be able to define what your talents are, how you’ve used them before, and the impact you’ve made.

One of the most important things you can do is to discover your talents. (HINT: you’ll usually find them embedded in your accomplishments, those things you’ve done that have made you proud, no matter how small.)

3. Know your WHY.
The key to creating meaningful work is to align your work with your WHY. Your WHY is what matters to you, what you believe in, what moves you, what you care about deeply. Want an example?

While I care deeply about politics and even started my workpath in that world, it’s not where I want to make my mark.

I also care deeply about people’s happiness at work. I believe each one of us has the right to create work that satisfies us, whatever that means to you and to me individually. I also believe deeply that each one of us was born with a unique set of gifts, talents and abilities and it is our “job” to figure out what they are so that we can use these gifts to their fullest potential to make an impact in the world and be well-paid. The world of work is my arena, the place where I choose to apply my gifts and talents. What’s your arena?

So you see, just because you are passionate about old cars doesn’t mean you have to work as a mechanic fixing old cars. You can be multi-passionate: you probably have a list of things you care about. What you want to do is to find the place where you want to make an impact. And then…GO!

What's Getting in the Way?

You know you are not happy at work.

You want to use more of your potential.

You want to do something meaningful.

You want to make more of a contribution. You know you are capable of more.

You know you are not that type of person who is satisfied with doing repetitive work, performing the same tasks over and over again. It’s time to go. And, yet…

You just can’t move forward. No matter what you try, you are not making progress. You are not moving towards the work of your dreams. Frankly, you are stuck.

So, my question to you is: what’s getting in the way?

YOUR MINDSET: Maybe you were told as a child that work is not supposed to be fun, that work is “labor, drudgery and toil” and not to expect more from it. And, if you say you do want more from your work, you were told you were impractical or unrealistic, an idealist or a dreamer. You have been programmed to put up with unhappy situations at work.

Or, maybe you aren’t aware of the amazing changes taking place in today’s world of work. Do you know that now is the best time in history to create work you love? Because if you are not aware and don’t know what’s happening, you won’t be able to see the unique opportunities available today, opportunities that weren’t there for your parents’ generation. The marketplace is breaking down, jobs are disappearing into projects and work is becoming more fluid. There is more opportunity, if you know where to look.

NOT KNOWING THE NEXT STEP: What stops my clients the most is they do not know what they want to do next. They know they don’t like what they are currently doing, and they don’t know what they have of value to offer the marketplace. Most of my clients want to do something meaningful, make a bigger impact or a greater contribution, but they haven’t really defined what that means to them, or how to achieve it.

YOUR FEARS: There are two main fears that stop people: 1) fear of change and 2) fear of losing financial security. Let’s talk about the first one.

Fear of change: One of people’s biggest fears is that they will make a change to find something better, and the new opportunity might turn out to be worse than the work they currently perform. Kind of “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t” syndrome. Or, they are afraid of what people will say about them if they make a change and it doesn’t work out. They stay stuck.

Loss of financial security: Among the biggest deterrents to making a change is the fear of losing financial security. (Is a job really secure? Is your paycheck?) This doesn’t have to stop you. Remember that in today’s world of increasing flux and opportunity, there are more ways than ever before to secure your financial freedom, if you know how.

The great news is that resistance points are just hurdles to overcome. Sure, you will need the knowledge and tools to bust through them and keep moving forward towards your dream work. Stick with me. Keep reading these posts.

I would love to hear from you about the biggest obstacle you face…the ONE thing holding you back…from pursuing the work of your dreams. Would you share with me? Just comment below and tell me what you are experiencing. BTW, no judgment here. I’ve experienced every single one of these hurdles myself and I know what it’s like. You are definitely NOT alone.