For Miya Wallace, a young African-American woman in her mid-thirties, three years spent in the accounting department of a retail department store chain were some of the longest in her life. She had always had an aptitude for detail, and accounting was easy for her. Her father, a disabled Detroit steelworker, had been adamant that she and her two sisters would receive college educations and have professions, and Miya had promised him she would.
Yet as she worked long hours at her job in a virtually windowless office, she wondered how she would ever fulfill the different and more emotionally compelling promise she had made to a pastor she had met while working in an inner-city soup kitchen: to help those who needed help.
The time Miya spent volunteering at the soup kitchen made her heart sing in a way her accounting job did not. She took great satisfaction in seeing the looks of happiness on the faces of people who had been hungry and felt unloved before being fed. Developing the weekly list of department store accounts that were 90 days past due seemed insignificant to Miya compared to alleviating the suffering of her fellow human beings.
Another thing that bothered Miya about her job was that, although she thought of herself as a “people person,” she actually interacted with relatively few people. But she didn’t dare give up her job. Her $30,000-a-year salary paid the rent on her apartment and was more than her mother made cleaning houses and waitressing at a nearby diner.
Then Miya’s life took a new direction. Hours spent on the computer led Miya to become Internet savvy. Over time, she developed online friends, and one suggested she take a course in electronic marketing. Afterward, she designed her own website, and six months later redesigned it incorporating a more sophisticated flash program. Another friend told her about an opening at a not-for-profit organization serving impoverished people in several Caribbean countries. Miya contacted the organization right away.
Taking a cut in salary, Miya began serving as the Web designer and Webmaster for the charitable foundation. When the charity sought to increase its funds, she suggested designing a new website for the annual campaign. Five years and more than $3 million dollars in revenues generated later, Miya is the Director of Online Marketing for the organization and is regarded as an industry expert on online fundraising. She has received three raises and now is one of the charity’s highest-paid executives.
Miya still puts in a lot of hours attending to her career, but the hours don’t seem so long to her today as they once did — for there is a sense of purpose and satisfaction in the work that is being done. Within her current job, she knows that each dollar raised may make the difference between a family going hungry or learning to become self-sufficient. Miya is a master of soul currency.
Excerpted from Soul Currency: Investing Your Inner Wealth for Fulfillment and Abundance by Ernest D. Chu. All rights reserved.