Have you figured out your calling? Do you even know what that means? I remember growing up listening to people try to help define my calling. Unfortunately, the guidance was usually defined as a singular purpose and as I look back was not all helpful. In Jeff Goins book, The Art of Work, you will begin to hear calling, vocation, and life’s work used interchangeably. But quite simply it’s figuring out what you were born to do.
Reading Goin’s book couldn’t happen at a better time in my life as I continue to work towards understanding my journey and what I was destined to do. Over the past year, I have opened up my life and put myself in situations that are not typical. This is what Jeff calls AWARENESS and is part of the seven characteristics to discovering your calling. Before you can tell your life what you want to do with it, you must listen to what it wants to do with you.
Often times I look back on my career journey and wonder how various different vocations in different industries led me to do what I am doing today. In the midst of frustrations at times I wonder how did I go from being in hi-tech to the construction industry. What does all that mean anyways? Jeff likes to define this as APPRENTICESHIP. It’s so true, that we can’t figure out what we are good at until we are willing to learn and try new things. I like this quote from the book; “You cannot find your calling on your own. It’s a process that involves a team of mentors. And everywhere your look, help is available.” That’s so awesome! This is so dead on to my life’s work for Mentor+ and guiding individuals to a path of success both in business and life. It’s all about community, engaging with the right mentors and constantly training yourself towards your calling. Jeff tells the story from the Middle Ages where an “apprentice” would work for free in exchange for experience, room, and board. This process was a minimum of seven years before venturing off on his own as journeymen for a few years before becoming a master – if they were worthy. The whole process would take ten years.
Learning to become a master at anything takes PRACTICE. I find growing my email list and trying different ways to bring users onto my Hitch+ app painful. But it takes time and studying different methods of social media and online marketing. Some things come naturally and some require effort to create sparks of inspiration. The most important thing is the willingness to just begin.
One of my weaknesses is I can be, at times, an impatient person. Things don’t happen fast enough me. Sometimes my decision process requires help from others and when there is no immediate action or decision I can become easily frustrated. Jeff discusses in this step that discovering your calling is a series of intentional decisions. I LOVE THAT! DISCOVERY goes along with another with another principle by Jeff Olson in his book called The Slight Edge. If you want to know more read this blog post, 7 Principles Of The Slight Edge That Changed My Life. “Discovering your calling is not an epiphany but a series of intentional decisions. It looks less like a giant leap and more life building a bridge“. This part of the book made a light bulb go off in my head. I really began to visually understand my life’s work as a process and not a beginning to an end. Sometimes it’s difficult to manage as you look around and see others finding success and you’re not. But if you look at what you are doing as building a bridge and that discovery happens in stages. Don’t take a leap but build a bridge.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” –W.C. Fields. If you have read my blog posts I have openly discussed my failures. You can read about some of my personal failure in this post, How to succeed… take the shots!. Jeff outlines the PROFESSION of failure can be your best friend. Failure hurts. It’s a humbling process but also can be so powerful. So many successful people have stories coming out of failure and pivoting to discover a new way that eventually find their life’s calling. Giving up is so hard but if you find yourself up against obstacles too often then the best way may be just to pivot around them. Consider your failure as a season as often times after comes success.
I have an educational background in business administration, but my career journey has taken me into many different directions to learning video production, auto sales, project management, product marketing, product management, management positions, entrepreneurial and startup experiences from industries in hi-tech, healthcare and construction. You can say my portfolio life is diverse, but it’s what I enjoy doing. Jeff outlines this portfolio life as a new kind of MASTERY. I like to learn but in most cases my career has led me to become a master of a few good things. This life portfolio is made up of four areas: work, home, play, and purpose. Mastery is a calling not to just one thing. It’s a few things, a portfolio that isn’t your job but the life you live.
As I get older and look at all the things that have happened in my life, it becomes more important what is it that I am called to do? What LEGACY do I want to leave to my family, friends, and even the world? I like how Jeff helped me understand this. A few generations ago, men went to work or war and rarely got to see life beyond their careers. A generation ago, our parents had to answer the question of what they would do with the last third of their lives. How would they spend their retirement? Would it be squandered on silly things or invested in significance? Now it’s a matter of what are you doing with your life right now. Jeff brings up the story of Steven King from his memoir on how he perceived his craft as wasted, treating his vocation as competition with the rest of his life. At the highlight of his career and his addiction he bought a new desk he always dreamed of having. It would dominate his study where he went to work every day and night. After realizing his addiction with the help of his family, he got rid of that desk and replaced it with a smaller one in the corner. His children would regularly retreat to his office to watch sports, movies and eat pizza. He never complained. His lesson learned and his struggle from addiction that nearly cost him his family was “life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” Your calling is not just what you do; it’s the person you become–and the legacy you leave.
I am so happy I spent the time reading this book. It made me realize that life never unfolds the way you want it to. It’s full of twists, turns, failures, surprises and leaving it, at times, with no option but to play it safe. Do I just go to work every day for eight hours, look after my family, pay my bills and do what’s expected of me? But for me there is always a burning desire in my heart that there must be more. I can do better. That unknown is what gets me up every day to lead a life that reaches my highest potential.
I hope you will take the time dig deeper and get a chance read the book. Here’s a summary of the steps:
1. Awareness: Before you can tell your life what you want to do with it, you must listen to what it wants to do with you.
2. Apprenticeship: Every story of success is a story of community. Accidental apprenticeships are everywhere. Your life is preparing you for what’s to come.
3. Practice: Real practice hurts. It takes not only time but intentional effort. Be open to learning new skills, and watch for sparks of inspiration to guide you.
4. Discovery: Don’t take the leap; build a bridge. you never “just know” what you’re supposed to do with your life. Discovery happens in stages.
5. Profession: Failure is your best friend. Don’t push through obstacles; pivot around them. Let every mistake and rejection teach you something. Before a season of success, there often comes a season of failure.
6. Mastery: A calling is not just one thing. It’s a few things, a portfolio that isn’t just your job but the life you live.
7. Legacy: Your calling is not just what you do; it’s the person you become–and the legacy you leave.
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“A star wants to see himself rise to the top. A leader wants to see those around him rise to the top.” – Simon Sinek