The Foreword to Finding Right Work

John Racanelli - National AquariumBy John Racanelli

Most of us rationalize our work despair with the old saw that “if it were fun, it wouldn’t be called work.” Encumbered by mortgages, tuitions, and plain old fear, we write off this drudgery as the cost of doing business. Then, of course, if we’re out of work completely, we “need to find a job.”

With vague apprehension and a twinge of regret, we settle for this disquieting and—for many of us—chronically dysfunctional relationship to our work life. All too often, that infects the rest of our life as well: our physical and mental health, our capacity to love, and our ability to enjoy the limited time given to us.

Even our success conspires against us. We’re led to believe that if we really pursue the deep yearning we have for more meaningful work, or if we pass up the job being offered to us, we might lose what we have right now. We shudder at the thought of giving up these little baubles of pleasure. Believe me, I know. I was there not so very long ago.

Meeting Leni Miller

Then I met Leni Miller. Over the course of several conversations, she opened my eyes to the concept of Right Work, patiently leading me through the five steps described in this book. Quite frankly, my life will never be the same. It has changed in a radical and incredibly positive way.

I agreed to write the Foreword to this book because I’ve often wished other people could reap the benefits that Leni’s extraordinary insights gave me, insights based on her forty-year career helping people find their right work. As surely as you hold this book right now, I hope you will someday look back on the moment you found Leni Miller, as I did, and know that you found a gem. All you have to do is look.

My love of the ocean

It was a long road to finding my own right work. I grew up in Northern California with an early and lifelong passion for the ocean. My love of the sea runs deep. I have been a surfer and scuba diver since my teenage years. I’m an avid open-water swimmer and have made the infamous Alcatraz crossing 12 times. I’ve also been an ocean sailor, navigator for a 6,000-mile voyage aboard a tall ship, professional diver and king crab fisherman in Alaska’s forbidding Bering Sea. I‘ve led adventure travel expeditions to Peru’s Machu Picchu, Canada’s San Juan Islands, and the Caribbean. It’s no secret to those who know me that love of the ocean runs in my veins.

In recent years, I’ve keenly felt the pain of seeing firsthand the dramatic degradation of that life-giving ocean. Our human impact on the world’s aquatic treasures has viscerally affected me, to the core of my being. Over time, I tried to give voice to this as best I could, volunteering my time and talent for conservation organizations focused on the ocean and San Francisco Bay. Important though they were, I knew all my efforts were a mere drop in the bucket. I was only barely serving my life’s greatest passion, and I knew it.

Finding Right Work: Five Steps to a Life You Love

Enter Leni Miller. She taught me how to apply the steps she outlines in her book, Finding Right Work: Five Steps to a Life You Love.  She helped me with powerful exercises in self-discovery, unlocking the key to who I really am in terms of my work. And she helped me develop a plan to identify and actually find that work, providing a course in self-discipline and understanding that gave me the courage and determination to see it through to completion. She and the content of this extraordinary book helped me make it happen.

John Racanelli - SCUBA and CEO, the National AquariumToday, as CEO of the National Aquarium, I live and work in service of the ocean I’ve always loved. I get to spend my days working with a community of progressive people who share an intense and deep commitment to our blue planet’s life support system. I love my work and am able to leverage my passion, experience and skills in ways I might never have dreamt possible before I met Leni. Thanks to the course she put me through—that of finding right work—my strongest talents and values are reflected in the work I now do. In fact, I often catch myself thinking, “Do I really get paid to do this?”

For me, it all came down to letting go of the need to know exactly what my work would be and how I was going to find it. Once I learned to be crystal clear about my gifts, priorities, talents and values, the work I was meant to do actually found me! I can tell you: the steps outlined in this book are easy to understand and pay off quickly. They work. If you commit to the process described in Finding Right Work, stay on-point, and have faith in the outcome, you can find your own right work and live the life you love.

Leni has recorded her lifetime of wisdom, along with dozens of stories about real people like you and me, that will take your understanding of what is your right work to a more psychologically and spiritually sophisticated level. Perhaps more importantly, it can turn the dreaded concept of work into a joyous part of your life. The process and stories Leni tells here are a gift—one that I can truly say has changed my life for the better. I am thankful for the wonderful changes her message has made in my life, and I believe you will be, too.

April 2012

Baltimore, Maryland

John Racanelli