Do you ever wonder about your purpose?
Some refer to this concept as one’s calling or mission.
In my own heart, and in conversations with my clients, this subject often comes to the forefront, especially as it pertains to career pursuits and living out our dreams.
Artists, authors, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit leaders want to align their passions with their work.
Could there be clues from our lives with answers to this question? And if so, how can we trust them?
What if your calling is always connected to your life story? It is. Always.
Scary, right? Because our stories contain both success and mess. And it’s really the mess that holds the keys to our calling.
Isn’t it interesting how certain topics energize you? I’m a firm believer in paying attention to your energizing passions, because many of these areas are also connected to past hurts, failures, and quirks.
Here’s a personal example
As a teenager, I was overly concerned about what other people thought of me. (And I still deal with this distraction more often than I like.) In high school I found myself shape-shifting my way into an exhausting matrix of social circles.
When I started my first business, I succeeded at selling due to my ability to listen to people, and “read” them. Some of this hyper-awareness was born from insecurity and my exaggerated need for acceptance.
I became dialed into to “perceptions” and how they related to success in the marketplace.
After facing this messy part of my story, and making peace with it, I was able to see the big picture, embrace my ability, and work on developing it in a constructive way. Now I help people with their branding and marketing. Focusing on the positive side of perceptions!
The positive side of my story related to my God-given wiring to help people, and the messy side of my story was tied to low self-esteem. But both are a part of my story.
How we interpret our story – and mis-interpret
Here’s another example. Growing up, life tried to tell me this story: It’s all up to you, Mike – you have to make it happen on your own.
But as I began to question that message, I realized that teaming up with others was what energized me. I thrived on it (when I allowed myself to really connect). Now my business mantra is “We’re not designed to go it alone.”
Coincidence or key?
Once you embrace the possibility that your dysfunction holds a clue to your purpose, even skeptically, you’ll see more doors in your story open up.
This concept even seems to run through many familiar Bible stories. Moses was so ticked off about slavery he killed a bullying Egyptian soldier, and ran away in fear and shame. Pretty messy on many levels. But years later Moses, and his messy anger, led those slaves out of Egypt.
Saul, who as an apostle was renamed Paul, made a nice living killing Christians. He passionately believed in his work, and was a road-warrior for the cause. After his blinding encounter with God, he re-focused his passion. But can you imagine the haunting questions he faced about his past life?
Though he battled memories of those misguided times, the connection to his calling was clear, forgiven, and redeemed.
He was both an unlikely candidate, and the perfect candidate, for his life’s work. (Sounds like you and me, huh?)
Your best foot forward… is still smelly
We often look to our successes and shiny attributes for clues to our purpose. And we usually bury the parts of our story we’d rather not think about – or have others see.
How are your failures connected to your dreams?
They are… Always.
What if the hurts you suffered from others were aimed at your calling?
They are… Always.
Take time to dig for the gold in your past. Search for the true you in your story. It may be difficult at first, but you’ll gain perspective, unlock some courage, and be more energized to live out your calling.
Introspection can be scary and challenging. But as you gain confidence in your calling you’ll connect with people grateful for your courage.
Look to past clues for your future calling
I didn’t start writing professionally until fairly “late” in life. Once I discovered this calling to communicate (and help others communicate) I remembered some clues from my childhood.
I won a writing award in the 11th Grade, but never gave it a second thought. In 6th Grade I didn’t feel like reading a book, so concocted an imaginary book, wrote a book report on it, and received an A! (This was before the internet, thankfully.) A few years ago, I discovered a book of poems I made in elementary school.
Coincidence or clue?
I enjoyed creating logos for the rock bands I was part of in high school. Now I help organizations and individuals “brand” themselves.
If your brand is the public expression of your calling (and it is) your job is to dig deep and look for clues. (My book will help.)
Lemme know your thoughts!