After a troubled childhood, Wes Moore graduated from Johns Hopkins University, served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, served as a special assistant to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, worked on Wall Street and wrote a book about a man with the same first and last name, but without Moore’s successes.
After writing that book, Moore set out to find purpose in “The Work: My Search for a Life that Matters.”
On Tuesday, Moore told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh the short answer to that purpose: “When your greatest joys and your greatest gifts begin to start overlapping with the world’s greatest needs, and then you choose to do something about it.”
“In my own mind, success is never going to be about awards or accomplishments, but success means how do you actually translate that into human impact,” Moore said.
Moore’s first book, “The Other Wes Moore,” ended as he prepared to leave for Oxford. Moore said he wrote “The Work” in response to queries about what happened next. The book is divided into seven sections, each based on a specific time in his life, often related to his work at the time.
As he was preparing to change jobs in 2008, Moore said a former boss told him not to be afraid to leave a position that was not challenging him. “If you’re not doing something where you feel that your greatest gifts are being applied and where your greatest passions are being envisioned, then the day you feel like you can leave, leave,” Moore said his boss told him. “Because every day after that that you stay, you become extraordinarily ordinary.”
It can be scary to leave the ordinary, but Moore said that should never be an excuse to stop.
“Fear can never be that component that’s just keeping you somewhere,” he said. “Fear is the thing that keeps you on your toes. Fear is going to be a constant companion, but it can’t be something that paralyzes you.
“As I was growing up, I think I suffered from this thing called the imposter syndrome. It’s where you feel like no matter what room that you’re in that you don’t belong, that you’re almost always waiting for someone to tap you on the shoulder and tell you, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’ I’ve now come to the point where I realize … you’re never in a room that you don’t belong in. You’re there because you belong there.”
“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.