Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion at University of Toronto entitled “Am I more than my resume?” The lecture hall was packed to overflowing with students from the undergraduate business and MBA programs. Perhaps my eyesight was blurry but they seemed a lot younger than when I did my MBA!
I don’t know the extent to which the prospects of free lunch or networking or pearls of wisdom contributed to the excitement. I would note, however, that not one crumb of pizza remained after we concluded. The panel discussion was lively and we re-convened with some students afterwards to continue exchanging ideas.
This event triggered a vivid memory. Early in my business career, I asked a similar question after being promoted to the executive ranks at Citibank. The year was 1978 and I had just put my young family through a rapid fire series of three moves in less than four years – from Toronto to Montreal to New York then back to Toronto. In those days, it was common to joke that, when your boss asked you to jump, the appropriate answer was, “How high?”
Like a body blow, the question hit me immediately following the announcement of my new appointment. “What was the meaning behind all that striving to advance to the top of my chosen profession?” Like many marketplace leaders I have known over the years, I had tended to define my identity in terms of what I did and how well I performed. Life’s purpose for me was all about setting goals, exceeding goals and being rewarded through more compensation and promotion. Put differently, I had defined myself as a resume.
Shortly after this promotion, we moved yet again to Montreal where I headed Citibank’s corporate banking operations for Eastern Canada. While the new challenge was stimulating, the question of life’s purpose continued to haunt. Continuing business success left me feeling unsatisfied and this dissatisfaction motivated me to search for meaning. Given the busyness of life including professional and family responsibilities, searching was easier said than done!
In 1980, my wife, Mary, gently persuaded me to attend a service at a little church around the corner in Montreal. During that service and in a way I cannot fully explain, I became very aware that Jesus Christ is alive today. In an instant, the deep questions of purpose and destiny were answered to my satisfaction. The truth of Christ’s existence meant that my life, including my role as a marketplace leader, had purpose.
Without my faith in God, I cannot imagine how I would have dealt with the many challenges encountered in my business and personal life over the years. And it all started when I realized that I am much more than my resume. I am a child of the God who created everything including (indirectly) me.
Where are you searching for meaning and purpose?
Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.