DESIGN YOUR LIFE: kevin of “being who i want 2 be”

Today I have a great DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview to share. Kevin “Mr. Peace” Szawala is a motivational speaker and friend of mine from the University of Michigan. He is also one of the most engaging, positive, and inspirational people I know. I am thrilled to present his intentions for his life and to share his story of leaving his cushy 9 to 5 job for his purpose: Being Who I Want 2 Be.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Kevin “Mr. Peace” Szawala

The greatest human tragedy is to die with the music still left in you.” – Jim Tuman

A college counselor once gave me this example about money.  Countless students walk into his office and tell him they want to make $100,000, a six figure income.  They don’t care how they do it or if they’re going to hate it, they just want him to tell them what it will take to make this amount of money.  The truth is, though (and what he ends up telling them), if you despise what you’re doing, chances are you’ll either end up getting fired (by someone who is passionate about what they do and so outperforms you), end up quitting altogether, or what so many people fall victim to: continue working only for the weekend, miserable day in day out, compromising your entire life for the ‘green stuff’ and ultimately feeling unfulfilled.

I was one of those people working solely for the paycheck and did so for close to five years.  However, I finally came to realize that while yes, we do need money and yes, it is important and what makes the world go round, if it is your only motivation (as it was mine), you will not find happiness. You may find temporary satisfaction and gratification, but that’s all it is: temporary.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Rather, ask yourself what makes you come alive.  Because what the world needs are more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Quitting my 9-5, stable, comfortable job with endless perks and benefits is something I will never forget nor regret.  Choosing to leave a guaranteed source of income I had at my previous employer (a global automotive supplier) this past July for another uncertain, risky, go-against-the-grain type path was not only a giant leap of faith, but one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life.  I have always felt that I am someone who has always been extremely driven, just not necessarily in the direction of my calling.

When I finally left Corporate America to fully pursue my passion for motivational speaking and working with the youth, I realized why the decision was such a difficult one and had been burning in me for over a year leading up to the separation: it was because I knew now what my purpose was and could clearly see it.  Up until that point I just was not living it yet 100% of the time, and until I was completely aligned with it, I would not be truly happy or fulfilled.  Now that all of my energies and efforts are going toward things that make me come alive, all the ‘work’ I do really isn’t work, rather, ‘fun’ and something I love to do each and every day.

The time is NOW to step into, to breathe into our greatness and become the blossoming genius inherent in us all!” – Kevin ‘Mr. Peace’ Szawala

I remember being asked this question on countless occasions by friends and family prior to my transition.  My response was, “Because I have everything to gain.”  Then, I was posed with whether the economic scare would encourage me to rethink pursuing some of my goals?  The answer to that one was, “Not at all.”  I willingly detached myself from my position because despite the present and ongoing financial woes, I was (and still am) so centered and grounded in my faith that I just trust the process and know that everything will work out.

I am a firm believer that America remains a beacon of entrepreneurialism.  Regardless of the risks that come along with the entrepreneurship challenge, it’s apparent that many are still seeking a niche to secure their own developing business.  I was one of them.  Now, it is not to say I have not had some economic challenges.  I have.  These dire straits make it a little more difficult as to how to market the impactful message I wish to share to the degree that many potential school or organization speaking bookings do not have as much money to offer speakers, or any outside companies for that matter.

On the other hand, with such a tough economic hold on everyone, basically worldwide, we as a nation, as a planet, need inspiration and hope now more than ever.  An entrepreneur needs to be positive, self-motivated, and driven to succeed despite all circumstances.  I am confident in taking the risk because I look at it more as an ‘opportunity’ and something that has been burning inside of me for years now, and unless I take a chance and go after my dreams 110%, I will not be truly free.

At the end of our lives people will only remember our hearts.” – Jim Tuman

It was not until I became intentional about asking myself who I wanted to be for my community, rather than what I wanted to be, that I knew what it was I wanted to do with my life and where my true passions laid.  Once you can answer the ‘who’, you start looking for career paths that will both foster and nurture who it is you want to be.  Many of the issues I see with at-risk teens are merely the symptoms of bigger problems like a lack of connection among their peers and not having that sense of purpose which gives them identity and self-worth.

Further, when you begin with the end in mind and think about how you want people to remember you by, all of a sudden your actions and decisions become based on who you want to be (which is hopefully a positive person for this world).  For me, I knew speaking was my greatest joy and connecting with others through my heart, humor and musical talents is how I wanted to share my time.  I knew in the core of my being that empowering individuals and helping them step into their full potential was my true calling.

Still, I see many people who think that by going to another personal growth workshop, reading the next self-help book, exercising until they reach the ‘perfect’ body figure, buying another boat, car, a bigger house; that something external is going to bring them permanent, internal happiness and give them some meaning in their life.  They have the mentality that if I can only change the outside factors in my life: my surroundings, my appearance, the things, then I will find my purpose.  That is never the case, however, and never will be.  The transformation must be inner to outer, and not the other way around.  All of us have a purpose and it is just a matter of looking within to find out that true happiness, true peace, and a true purpose comes from knowing that we all have been given unique gifts from our creator.  What is your motivation for wearing a seat belt?  Yes, you don’t want to die, but what makes you not want to die?  There has to be a reason for living.  And the deeper your faith and spiritual connection to what your divine purpose is, the more clear your heart will be led to what you should be doing and why it is you are on this earth.  When you are where you’re supposed to be, you can just feel it with every part, with every fiber, of your being.

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” – Unknown

Whether it is solving global warming, curing a disease, or combating world hunger, the solution to so many of the world’s problems today lies within people being who they want to be.  If we have people truly into what they’re doing filling the various societal roles, then the issues we are faced with everyday would be solved more quickly. If it is only for the money or because someone told you this is what you should be doing, though, these matters would not be addressed with the same level of intensity, attention, purpose or desire, and so would take longer to get resolved.  The bottom line: Passionate people want to keep progressing and succeeding in whichever field they choose.  As long as you love it, the career you do choose will not matter.  What will matter is finding out how that thing that makes you come alive will contribute to making this world a better place through being, once again, who you want to be.  And on top of that, as the title of the New York Times bestseller reads, “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow!”  It’s true.  If you’re that passionate about what you do, you will excel that much more in that field and advance to reach a comfortable lifestyle.

Unfortunately, many people never realize this.  Some individuals do not discover who they really are their entire lives.  Sometimes to find ourselves, though, we must first lose ourselves or make some drastic change in our lives and thinking pattern.  Sometimes we need to challenge the ideas presented to us and really take an extensive look inside ourselves to see if our values and morals are in line with them.  Until you find yourself and are the person you want to be, you cannot fulfill your dreams.  Be fulfilled to fulfill.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

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  1. I love his response to doubters >> “Because I have everything to gain.” I feel the same way – I can’t wait to make the jump myself!

  2. I am proud to call Kevin Szawala one of my dearest friends in the world. He is an awesome human being, who totally inspires and lifts my heart. I’m thrilled to know this young man. Go, Mr. Peace!!!

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