What is a calling?
Jun 30, 2020
Get to the Point...
Most people want to find more purpose and meaning in their work. Most people would love to have a calling. But very few people pursue their calling because they (1) don’t think they have one, or (2) they worry about having to give up everything they already have to look for their calling.
Neither of these are true.
If you’re interested in finding a bit more “calling” in the work that you’re already doing, I’m hosting a 5-day Challenge starting on July 6th. Even though the title is “Consultant Calling” you don’t need to be a consultant to get massive value from this training. Check out the details at www.consultantcalling.com
The Full Article
Do you have a calling? Most people would say they don’t. I think most people would say they have a job. A lucky few would say they have a career. But almost nobody would say they have a calling. At least not one they’re living.
For me, this a devastating reality. I’m one of those people who believe that work should be about more than just a paycheck. Most of us spend a third of our life working. It just doesn’t make sense to me that a third of our life is simply a means to an end. (BTW…The other two thirds? We spend half of that sleeping.)
I believe that every person’s work should be a fundamental part of their being. Every person’s work should be an authentic expression of their soul. Every person’s work should be their calling.
That sounds idealistic, right? You may think it sounds downright irrational. I understand. But you have to admit, it would be amazing, right? I mean, that’s got to be a 30% increase in happiness right off the bat.
So let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Most people, probably yourself included, don’t feel like they have a calling. Why is that?
I think it’s because most people have a very narrow, and therefore flawed, definition of what it means to have a calling. In the next few minutes I’m going to offer you a different definition and I hope you find it useful.
The definition of a calling hinges on two important questions: (1) Where does your calling come from? (2) What does it look like in the world?
Where Does Your Calling Come From?
Sadly, this question is a show-stopper for most people, because the easiest, simplest answer winds up excluding 99% of humanity. The easy answer is that you calling comes from God.
Okay, let’s go with this.
Let’s assume you believe in God. Let’s assume you even have a pretty good relationship with God. What, exactly, does it look / sound like when God tells you about your calling? Is there a voice in your head? Is there a note on the fridge? Does God’s message come in an email? If so, will it be WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS? Let’s face it, most people are not going to receive an explicit message from God.
Okay, then maybe it will be more subtle. Maybe it will be a feeling in your heart or in your gut. Maybe it will be a recurring dream or a whisper of longing that’s been in the back of your mind forever.
Maybe. But I’m guessing it’s going to be hard to distinguish those subtle callings from the less subtle demands that each and every one of us faces on a daily basis. Car payments. A demanding boss. A dissatisfied spouse.
How can we be expected to differentiate a “true calling” from everything else going on in our life? We can’t.
Of course, all this presumes that you believe in a God that takes a personal interest in your life. What if you don’t? Does that mean you’re excluded from the calling-club? If you’re still eligible, where is your calling going to come from? And how the heck are you supposed to recognize it?
We all have the exact same problem. We don’t know where our calling comes from and/or we don’t know how to recognize it when we see it.
What Does Your Calling Look Like?
Why does it even matter where your calling comes from, as long as you can recognize it when you see it? Herein lies the next big problem.
What does a calling look like?
We’ve all seen them. Martin Luther King. Mother Teresa. Gandhi.
There’s just one problem. Aside from the fact they are all dead. These people were changing the world. Saving lives. Saving the world from itself. Who among us is doing THAT?
What about these people. Michael Jordan. Elon Musk. Oprah. Do they have a calling? I’d say yes and I think I’m not alone. But once again, we have a problem. Each of these people is a force of nature. They are supremely gifted and talented. Raise your hand if you feel like a force of nature? I don’t.
When we hold such elite people as the standard for having a calling, it’s very tough to measure up. It’s impossible to measure up. By this standard, none of us has a calling.
What if this isn’t the standard?
The New Standard
I would like to offer a new standard for what it takes to have a calling. It’s a standard that is much more accessible without sacrificing the benefits that come from finding one’s calling.
To have a calling, it requires three basic things: Meaning, Mastery, and Mindfulness.
I’ll run through each briefly…
Meaning - Why do I do what I do? Who is benefitting from the work that I do? What are the connections that I am making with others? What legacy am I leaving through my actions?
These are some of the questions that come up when we talk about meaning. Sadly, many people lose sight of these important things. When we have a calling, we maintain an incredibly strong connection to the meaning in what we do. This includes not only the big and obvious sources of meaning, but it also includes the small and subtle ones.
Mastery - Am I good at doing this? More importantly, am I constantly working to do it more skillfully? Am I constantly growing, not only in terms of my skills, but in terms of being a complete person? Am I reaching my fullest potential?
Every calling has an element of mastery. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking about mastery as merely perfecting your ability in any given area. Mastery is journey, not a destination. Mastery is about the process of living up to your potential.
Mindfulness - I would argue that all of us achieve a degree of meaning and mastery throughout our lives, but we lack is an appreciation for these achievements. In order for something to be our calling, we must be mindful and intentional so that we can recognize that we are, in fact, answering our call. Mindfulness means that we are acutely aware of ourselves and our environment. This includes our talents as well as our capacities.
A calling without mindfulness is not really a calling. In fact, I suspect this is the element that most people are missing when they say … I don’t have a calling. The good news is that mindfulness is a skill and it is learnable.
Are you ready to discover the hidden purpose and meaning in your work? Are you ready to claim your calling?
Starting on July 6th, I’m going to be hosting a 5-Day Challenge to help you do exactly that. The Challenge is targeted toward consultants, but you don’t need to be a consultant to get the full benefits of the program. If you are receiving this email, you are more than welcome!