Five Rules to Live & Die By to Find Work That Lights You on Fire / by Julie Schumacher

Molly Rudberg is quite the powerhouse. She's positively vibrating with energy and enthusiasm and passion and interest and likes nothing more than to help others vibrate too. She was an obvious person to bring to our Spring '13 salon, which was all about Starter Stories. We asked Molly to share some tips on how to start living and working with a fire in your belly. Molly Rudberg

As a Reinvention Coach and Organizational Catalyst, I travel around the working world discussing passion, purpose, and personal brand. I work with people looking to make the most of their work lives. And, I gotta say, I love my work.

Wherever I go, whether I’m talking to people new to the work force or veteran executives, people in creative industries or more buttoned up 9-to-5’ers, there are three questions that consistently come up. Since part of my job is seeing, identifying, and finding meaning in patterns, I figured that means it’s time to look at those questions a bit deeper.

Three Questions I Get Asked. A lot. *How do I connect to meaningful work? *What can I consistently do to produce work that lights me (and the world) on fire? *Where can I find tools or resources to make this happen for myself and/or employees?

Before I give you some answers, here’s why I keep getting asked the same questions. Executives, mid-level managers, employees, and entrepreneurs—all acting without intention every day. Instead of brimming with intention they are knee deep in work that brings, instead, disconnect, exhaustion, and unhappiness.

And let me tell ya – it’s killin’ lots of people’s fires. And that kills me.

The alternative isn’t just an easy walk in the park. It’s called work, right? Finding our purpose, passion, and ultimately, personal brand in our vocation, it takes work. It is a commitment we make with ourselves to pursue only the very best and brightest for ourselves. It requires getting out of our head and back in to our entire being—looking at the whole instead of what lies immediately in front of or within us. It’s a connection with a higher self that refuses the busy, chaotic, disconnected life we’re living at work and demands a deeper dialogue around what matters only to us.

So how do you go from an empty tank run on caffeine, nicotine, and crushed dreams to a tank bursting with enthusiasm and ideas at work?


There are Five Rules I live by every day that keep me on track and continually offer up a new perspective on working and living. Commit to even just one and you’ll find that organically the others show up, too.

1. The Grand Experiment.

View your career as one big experiment. Remember science class in junior high with beakers and Bunsen burners? Remember mixing and matching, lots of smoke and different color liquids, laughing and failing over and over and finally creating and experiencing success?

View your career in the same mindset. Place yourself in different professional roles, evaluate your experiences, ask a different set of questions, inject different people, places, and goals, dare to fail. Fail spectacularly and pick yourself back up. Analyze like a scientist what brings happiness, exhaustion, electricity. Drill down, dig, discover, and demand for yourself. Be the beaker. Be the liquid. Be the fire.  Remember, failing is just another avenue on a long road toward finding your true work calling.

What it looks like: Choose to inject something or someone new in to your work world today. For extra points, choose someone or something that scares you!20130530_FORTH-6619

2. Choose Risk. 

“Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.” – Denis Waitley

Everyone talks that game—but not everyone actually DOES it, actually actively selects risk.  I thought for a long time, to risk was to choose death. Yet I woke up feeling less and less alive as I stayed in my safe, warm bud. I was warm, but that was about it. I wanted to be on fire.

It wasn’t until I peeked out of that safe space that I saw the enormous world of opportunity and possibility that awaited me. From people to projects to learning new skills and tools—my work world has expanded beyond comprehension as I watched myself gain, fall short, gain again and grow. I now choose risk every day. It’s an active choice. I dare myself to grow.

What it looks like: Observe something that feels safe today. Imagine a new possibility for your work through risk. Choose to step toward it. Notice how it changes your work and world. Make this a daily ritual.

3. Redefine Success

Our entire lives we’ve been told by parents, society, teachers, religion, you name it to follow a certain map to follow a certain route to get to a certain place. A map that has straight lines, very few rest stops, no detours, and very little fun. The map reads something like this:

“Follow this rule/person/thing/job/money.” “Don’t step out of line.” “Don’t challenge or question.” “My way or the highway.” “Don’t be yourself.”

The working world has changed and a new set of rules is emerging. This new world has a new map. It requires us to question everything. To find our career calling, we must smash those old routes and beliefs. Re-define what a successful life and work means to YOU—and shitcan all other thoughts. Do not limit yourself to the traditional career path and preconceptions of success. Think broader, bolder. Live only in your own defined, hi-def version of success.

What it looks like: What is one belief or story you have about yourself related to work that requires challenge? Do that.  Challenge, re-imagine, change. Rinse, repeat.


20130530_FORTH-63664.Find your tribe

Your community will be a place of support, friendship and power. Feed it, nourish it, protect it, and support the hell out of it.

These will be the people who show up to your speeches and clap the loudest, tell you the truth when you fall short, hold your hand when you’re afraid, and challenge you to rise to your true calling, values ,and potential. These are the people who feed your fire—and stick around to feel (and celebrate) the flames.

Find your tribe of people. Nurture those relationships. Give more than you get. When you forget who or what you were meant to do in your work (which  happens to every single one of us), you turn toward your tribe.

What it looks like: Name one person in your working world you consider part of your tribe. Have you formally acknowledged and thanked them for their support? Gratitude for those who are there. Think about a personality or approach you need in your tribe. Seek them out, boldly.

5. Ready, Set, GO

You’ve done the hard work. All done, right?

Not quite. Now you need to take action. Stay in meaningful, intentional motion. If you wait for opportunity to plop in your lap, or your work purpose to appear before you in bright lights, you risk stagnation—or worse, a career that resembles a corpse.

Wild work success isn’t about going through the motions without intention. It’s about sharing your energy, enthusiasm, and authentic star power with the working world, right now and forever more.  Your true calling will only be able to withstand you for so long.

What it looks like: That project you’re scared to go after?  The person you’re afraid to approach?  That piece you can’t seem to write? Do it. Now. Like, RIGHT NOW. It won’t be perfect. But it will propel you forward in to a world that is waiting for you.


Like what you read? Check out Molly's site to learn more about her work. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter for major inspiration.