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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Unspoken Escape Clause

What do you think of when you hear the word "calling"? Has anyone ever told you they thought you missed your calling? How did that feel? Have you known anyone who you thought missed their calling?

It's tempting to offer guidance to people who seem adrift, especially when you sense they have a strength or skill that could be vocationally valuable. And if I know someone well enough and they persist in asking me for guidance even after I've dodged the issue several times, I will occasionally relent. But I'm careful about using the word calling. It's possible this is silly semantics on my part. But doesn't the word itself imply the person would hear something, even if just in a metaphorical sense?

The most challenging circumstance I've faced in this arena was when someone significantly younger than I recently asked me "What do you think I was called to do?"  Flattered as I was that this individual wanted my insight, my initial reaction was to ask a series of questions like "What are you passionate about?" "What have others told you are your strengths or skills?" "How can you combine your passion with those strengths?" Though I didn't, I also wanted to add a caveat about the whole calling thing. Something like "Being called to do something now doesn't preclude being called to something different in the future". After all, how many called people have you known who later had difficulty escaping that calling?  

1 comment:

  1. I just learned about hedonic adaptation from a great book by Sonja Lyubomirsky, the Myths of Happiness. Hedonic adaptation is the fact that human beings eventually begin to take for granted almost anything that happens to us, no matter how positive. So the "calling" may not be the be all, end all it is cracked up to be. We might be passionate about our work at the beginning, but unless we actively invest in growth and change, we will eventually tire of it and become less engaged.