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Working 9 to 5, I was raised on it. My father worked at IBM for thirty-five years and then retired. I grew up, raised to pursue this type of work-life experience – one company, one job, one pension. But just about the time I entered the work force out of college the tides began to turn in the American workplace. No longer were large corporations or small businesses remaining loyal to their employees, or at least that’s the way the story was spun. The necessity for increased profitability was the mother of this new invention of industrial non-commitment, for better or for worse.

Eventually the media began reporting that those of us entering the workplace in the nineties would have multiple employers in our lifetimes. Some twenty-five years later this has absolutely come to pass for me and so many of my contemporaries. We’ve worked not only for multiple companies but worked multiple careers as well. I was a waiter, and a restaurant manager. I was a casting assistant, a youth advocate for homeless LGBTQ teens, an admissions counselor, student advisor, life coach and television producer. One might think I had a bad case of paranoid schizophrenia, but really, I’m just an average Joe, or Barry as it may be, living in our current times.

For a moment, let’s turn the whole concept of 9 to 5 on its proverbial ear, a phrase I’ve never quite understood, but use none the less, and think it means taking an idea and turning it upside down or inside out if you prefer. We all like to go a certain way, know what I mean?!?!

So did my father actually work for one company and then retire? Well, not really. Upon closer examination my father actually worked three distinct jobs, not counting son, father to two families, and husband twice. First and foremost he was a professional musician, a member of the Professional Musicians Union his whole life. My Dad made a nice chunk of change over the years playing at super clubs, weddings, and corporate functions. It helped him raise two families – first my step sister and two step brothers, and once they were out of the house I came along, attached to a pretty blonde lady he fell in love with – my mom. In addition to playing, a term used by musicians for working a gig, weekends for upwards of forty years, my dad worked ten years at a paper making company called Western Printing, and then thirty-five years at IBM. So he had, at any one time, two distinctly different jobs, as well as being a husband and father. My Dad also took financial care of his own mother and father, and his brother and sister starting at age sixteen.

I don’t think any of us were built to do just one thing. Oh, all right, there’s always the exception to the rule, some folks, yes. But most of us, we’re gifted with different ways to express our internal creativity and we’ll need to do so in any number of ways throughout the course of our lives.

A term used in the past for this type of person, someone who possesses a variety of professional abilities, has been Renaissance man, and of course woman are included in this. I think it’s funny that there had to be a special word devised for a person who does a variety of things that could include but not be limited to building houses, painting landscapes, and raising orchids. We couldn’t just call this man or woman a “worker” because being able to do more than one thing falls outside the inherent meaning of the word “worker”, while it’s built into Renaissance man or woman.

My Dad was a Renaissance man – musician, factory worker, main frame key punch operator, and security guard.  He also created two families, had four distinctly different careers, and like my father, I am a Renaissance man. I’ve performed, written, danced, sang, served, assisted and coached. I’ve written a book, I blog, and I’ve been a life partner, term used for some time in the gay world before gay marriage was legalized, and which, by the way, never came with a tax advantage which I’d like to talk to our next President about, as well as friend, and son.

We’re all multi-facetted human beings. In a way, we’ve all played victim to the 9 to 5 story long enough in the role of the tireless, often under-appreciated worker, where the corporation is some big bad wolf. No, we’re better than that, and bigger than that, and so much more talented and creative. We will all have multiple jobs and careers over our ever expanding life spans. This is in large part because our multifaceted selves must express in all our colors.

Our souls are on a journey, a journey that allows and gifts our human selves with so many wonderful learning opportunities that grow us. We rise, we fall, and we rise again, and over time we get better and better with age as we gain the often hard earned wisdom which gives us the ability to extract the sweetness of life out of it all should we choose. I definitely have a sweet tooth.

I’ve written my whole life.  It was a rocky start because I had difficulty reading left to right. I had a mild form of dyslexia. It took special training, classes that taught me how to read and write properly. Grade school, junior high, high school, community college, university, grad school, and doctoral program – I wrote through every stage of my life as a student, as a professional, and as an artist, and I am still writing.

During these various stages of my life I’ve done a number of different jobs, but what I did not do, ever, was fit into some neat little box titled “worker.” It’s limiting to say the least, and almost suffocating when I try to breath into it.  My firm belief, as opposed to a limp one, is that we can and often do hold more than one job at a time. We have to really, not because, and here’s the victim story, corporations don’t honor or keep their employees anymore, it’s because we’re multi-facetted individuals who must express our internal creative life force. Our survival counts on it.

We’re so in the process of redefining our 9 to 5 existence these days because we’re just not that anymore, and frankly, I don’t think most of us ever were. We’re Renaissance people. We’re game changers. We’re paradigm shifters, blazing the trail to this new, next, now paradigm of what it means to be a “worker” today, and more specifically and holistically, what it means to be a professional and a person living in today’s world.

We’re multi-facetted, multi-talented.

We absolutely have to express in all our colors. @barryaldenclark (Click to Tweet!)

You can’t tell Mother Nature to tone down her bright yellow and burnt orange leaves any more than you can ask a human being to tone down their light – their talent – their reason for being – their innate expression.

So, if by chance you’re one of those people dimming their light, I’d say there’s no time like the present to shine. The present is a gift, as are you. Playing small is so last century. Be you today in all your brilliance and all your sparkle. You’re unique. You shine bright like a diamond. You’re multi-dimensional. Allow yourself to express. We have to or we’ll literally rot inside. Let’s blooms instead, shall we?


Barry Alden Clark has coached hundreds of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who the truly are. He & his creative partner Eliza Swords are currently delivering uplifting content on social media every Wednesday via “Best Day Ever with Barry and Eliza”, a Facebook and You-Tube phenomenon reaching thousands of people around the world. We are also inspiring love and joy through creating heartfelt and entertaining content via our production company Pure Honey Ink. Currently we have projects in development for social media, film, television and publishing. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.

Image courtesy of Startup Stock Photos.

July 3, 2016