What You Do Matters

Speaking of Purpose

photo of Staff Sergeant Salvatore GiuntaLast week while attending a conference in Orange County, California, my husband and I had the opportunity to hear a profound and inspiring message delivered by Sal Giunta, the first living person since the Vietnam War to be awarded the Medal of Honor¹. It seemed both cathartic and painful for Giunta to recount the events that transpired, including the loss of one of his best friends, Sergeant Joshua Brennan. Though uncomfortable with being singled out to receive the honor, Giunta has accepted the responsibility that comes with being a Medal of Honor recipient.

Now 27 years old and with a wife and daughter as well as plans to pursue his education, Giunta said that speaking to groups about his experience is “what I’m doing now.” As you might imagine, he talked about valuing our freedom and how the military taught him to look out for the person “to your left and to your right,” knowing they are doing the same for you. Giunta was compelling in the delivery of his core message: that it is up to us to make a positive difference, a change large or small. “I want to let people know that what they do matters. We have it in us to choose direction in life.”

We Have It In Us

It was striking to hear these words from someone who has had a traumatic brush with death. For most of us who do not have such close encounters, it is easy to forget that we have it in us to choose our direction. When we do remember, we can become more afraid of choosing incorrectly than of missing out on a potential opportunity. The reality is that we are choosing all the time. We choose and choose again throughout our entire lives.

At the conference where Giunta spoke, as well as at other recent social events, several people shared with me that they have certain inklings about new directions to pursue. I find it interesting that whether the person was college age or in their 50s, the feelings described were similar: curiosity about a particular direction and excitement about what could be possible, combined with anxiety about making the right choice.

One woman told me it had been two years since her boys had graduated college and moved out of the house. After enthusiastically describing several interests, she admitted that fear keeps her from genuinely pursuing any one activity in depth. She wondered if having so many ideas meant that none of them were strong enough to have potential or to hold her interest in the long run. After learning that I’m a coach, she asked me a familiar question: As a coach, what do you tell people?

Choose Your Direction

There are no magic answers. What I’ve learned personally and in witnessing my clients’ lives continue to unfold is that it’s important to pay attention to the ideas that cross your mind, especially the ones that keep coming back to you. The value is not always in that specific, literal idea but in where that idea takes you. While some courage, compromise, and patience may be necessary, it’s often not as complicated as it appears. As you explore and look into your ideas, the choice becomes clearer.

This Week’s Call to Action:

  • Tell the truth to yourself by acknowledging what would bring more fullness to your life. Realize that your ideas are gifts to be opened and exchanged.

  • Have the courage to explore an idea. Don’t worry about having to know the answer just yet.

Sal Giunta, thank you for your service, and for sharing your inspiring message:

What you do matters.
You have it in you to choose your direction in life.

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz's signature

¹Salvatore Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of members of his squad during the war in Afghanistan in 2007. More about Giunta here: Army.Mil Features; 60 Minutes Interview Excerpt (Nov 2010); Wikipedia Article

© 2012, Virginia M. Kravitz and In the Current®. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided it is without any alteration, includes the copyright above, and if distributing electronically includes a link to www.inthecurrent.com.

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