Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J., talks about the importance of finding one’s highest calling …
CORY BOOKER: Thank you, Kelly.
KELLY HAYES: We have a program here at genconnect.com called Finding Your Gift. And basically, we believe that every young person has a gift, something that is a part of them. And we try and match them with mentors. I’m wondering if that might be the kind of program that would be valuable in Newark, New Jersey.
CORY BOOKER: I think it would be valuable anywhere, in New Jersey, in Newark, and the globe, frankly.
KELLY HAYES: Tell me why you think that every kid has a gift and can they find it?
CORY BOOKER: Well, it was part of my growing up. My parents told me that you have a unique genius, you have a calling, you have a destiny that is unique and it is special, and that this world is yearning for. And my parents didn’t want me to become a reflection of the world. They wanted me to become a reflection of my highest calling. And I was taught that the world has a powerful leveling effect that we’re taught, that often we fall into the habit of looking to the left or the right to find our own definitions as opposed to looking within.
And so my parents called me. They said live your life as if you couldn’t fail. Live your life as if you could have your greatest dreams. And even if you don’t get there, the very pursuit will expand your world beyond what you think is imaginable. What I found– and again, this sounds maybe very spiritual– but universe often conspires to answer your greatest yearning, your greatest calling if you’re willing to pursue that. And so Lincoln said– it may be more profound than I could– he said everyone is born an original, but sadly, most die copies. And that’s something we should all resist, ever being a carbon copy of anything.
So this idea that you all have, to me, is tremendous. It first and foremost recognizes that we are all geniuses, that we all do have unique and special gifts. And ultimately, our responsibility in the universe is to cultivate them because we’re the only ones that can offer up the fruit of our spirits and our souls. And if we deny the universe that, then we all suffer.
KELLY HAYES: Is there someone, say, other than your parents, who had mentored you at some point in time to help you find your gift, Cory?
CORY BOOKER: Well, there are a lot of people that give you the right words at the right time that often reaffirm what your parents told you. And there’s a lot of turning points in my life. And I remember the one where I was really struggling with whether I should run for office. And it wasn’t what I felt called to do. But as a friend of mine reminded me, life is not about a position, it’s about a purpose. Focus more on your purpose and stop having so much anxiety over what the position is.
And well what if I lose? Well you have a responsibility to take risks. And what’s the worst thing that could happen? You call flat on your face. And then your next challenge is just getting up. But at the end of the day, you will be a better man for having risked it all. And even if you lose, you’ll gain more than you can ever imagine. So I’ll never forget that. Actually, it was a men’s bathroom. I remember exactly where I was having that conversation. And I said, you know what, I’m going to stay true to my purpose and let the positions come and go. But I will stay focused like a laser beam on making sure that I’m in complete resident for what I’m called to do. And it happened to take me into elected office.
It’s amazing, when you cast out negativity, you draw often that very thing to you. And I had a lot of negative feelings about elected officials and politics. And now here I am, an elected official or a politician trying to do my best as possible to live my authenticity in this job and to mold the job more to me than the molding towards the job and its normal expectations.
KELLY HAYES: Well, we really appreciate you defining your purpose. You can see more with Mayor Cory Booker at genconnect.com and also find out more about finding your gift. Thank you so much.
CORY BOOKER: Thank you. Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker thinks everyone has a unique gift. His own parents, while he was growing up, told him that he had such a gift and that one of his missions in life should be to find that gift.
“My parents didn’t want me to become a reflection of the world. They wanted me to become a reflection of my highest calling,” Booker told genConnect in an interview. We often fall into a habit of looking to the left and right to figure out who we should be, instead of looking within, he added. Even “if you don’t get there, the very pursuit will expand your world.”
Former President Abraham Lincoln once said “everyone is born original but sadly most die copies. And that’s something we should all resist – ever being a carbon copy of everyone,” Booker noted.
Booker said there were many turning points in his life, including the one in which he was trying to decide whether to run for public office. A friend told him to focus on his purpose, instead of the position, and to not dwell on what would happen if he loses. “You have a responsibility to take risks … at the end of the day you will be a better man for risking it all,” Booker said.
For more Giving Back on genConnect:
- Center for Living Peace: ‘Good Happens’
- Children’s Health Foundation: Good Food, Safe Schools for Kids
- New York Gauchos Takes Kids From the Street to the Court
- Gina Murdock: Her Favorite Environmental, Children’s Causes
- Lisa Kolodny: Movember Supports Prostate Cancer Awareness
Want more genConnect?
- For more daily expert updates, follow genConnect on Twitter and Facebook.
- To stay on top of Cory Booker’s latest contributions: Sign Up for genConnect.
Share with us your thoughts in the comments box below.