My wife Kathleen and I were at Village Books in 2007, a wonderful independent bookstore in Bellingham, Washington, listening to Greg Mortenson talk about his experiences that inspired the writing of Three Cups of Tea with journalist David Oliver Relin. Mortenson was slogging his way through a book tour, engaging with small groups and trying to build momentum. His book at that point was unremarkable, having achieved only modest sales and little critical acclaim.
Today Mortenson, 52, who once lived in his car outside of Berkeley, California and began this remarkable story after losing his way on a mountaineering exhibition, is advising the U.S. military in Afghanistan. The book has now sold over 4 million copies after the paperback went viral.
One of the last things (according to the July 18 NYT front page article) that General Stanley McChrystal did prior to getting fired by President Obama, was to reach out to Mortenson, encouraging his ongoing help in building support on the ground with the local Afghans.
So Mortenson was once sleeping in his car. And sometimes many of us feel the same; we are sleeping in that metaphorical car at work. The way out is to look for purpose in what we’re doing; however trivial the “job” may be. When we give and add value, somewhere along the way it brings results for us and others. Every Mortenson story is a reference point for being abundant in our actions. It is part belief and part action; both in our control.