Finding your purpose in life can seem like a never-ending search for the fountain of youth. When I was growing up I was under the impression that God gives everyone a purpose (which I believe he does) and eventually there is an epiphany moment when the clouds clear, the heavens open wide, and a deep voice from the sky boasts, “You there young man, go forth and become an HVAC Engineer like your father.” (Luckily that voice never beckoned me.)
When I was young I wanted to be a zoologist and teach gorillas sign language like my childhood hero, Jane Goodall. Around 6th grade, I figured out that I was terrible at biology (I even failed it twice in college!) and couldn’t pay attention long enough to learn sign language.
This obviously placed a few roadblocks in my path towards becoming the next star of “Gorillas in the Mist” and soon I became fascinated with entrepreneurship and helping businesses and people grow. It seems my fascination with gorillas, nature, and animals will remain just that – and will have nothing to do directly with my employment.
While in college the fear of missing my calling or not doing what I’m meant to be doing would echo in my brain. So much so that I would find myself taking risks that did not make sense financially, employment-wise, or in the sense of bringing me closer to my goals. I can remember asking mentors, pastors, and friends what is the meaning of all of this? How do I find what I’m meant to be doing?
Where can I sink my passion? Finding a simple solution to pinpoint your calling probably won’t be easy and I still find myself taking quarterly stock of my goals, “soul navigation”, and financial realities. I recently heard Bishop T.D. Jakes say something that resonated with me and whether you are a person of “faith” or not I think you can appreciate the sentiment:
“Just cause’ God gave you the skill to do it, does not mean he called you to it.”
I wish someone told me that when I was younger, especially as I grew and began to discover my various abilities. I often thought that every ability must be a “business.” And every business was a potential “calling.” For me, there’s no such thing as hobbies – it’s something I’m trying to overcome. Hobbies strike me as a waste of time…if you’re good a making fly fishing gear…why not sell fly fishing gear? And if you’re good – why not be the best? See where I’m going here?
Not everyone is wired the same way and I learned this the hard way about 5 years ago when my wife developed a love for photography. She took beautiful photos and people immediately complimented her and began asking her to take photos of their kids, pets, families, etc.
In the beginning, she did it for free – because she got joy from doing it for free. I saw an opportunity. With the grace and love of a black rhino, I gently lead my wife into creating, ” Erin Pride Photography.” Soon she was making it rain. I created a Facebook page, Website, and marketing materials. I told her how to sell and was so excited for her to do so. 4 months later – she hated her hobby. Her hobby was a passion, not a business, not a calling, and not a world-changing empire.
I’ve been alive for a little longer than 32 years and experienced a lot of different things for a man my age. Here are the three things I’ve learned so far while attempting to live the calling I have found in my life:
1. Be Honest. This one is the toughest for me. I love to embellish. I love to tell a good story and make people laugh and I love to share an uplifting story to make someone feel good. I’m also willing to tell myself that I don’t need to run today, make a sales call today, or write today. But, if I’m honest – I do. Being honest with myself and a select group of mentors in my inner circle helps me keep my “soul GPS” on track.
2. Understand the Difference Between a Skill and a Calling. Much like what Bishop Jakes shared from his pulpit I would like to reiterate in this blog. Just because you are really great at mowing lawns…doesn’t mean it is your calling. It is okay to walk away from it if your actual calling is something else.
3. Quitting is Ok. There is a terrible rumor that poor people listen to that quitters never win. I don’t believe that. Most of the wealthy people I know that are living a life of passion, purpose, and proof have given up on ideas and callings that clearly were not working out. Surround yourself with a group – create an inner circle of winners who aren’t afraid to tell you when an idea is bad.
How about you, are you pursuing your calling?
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon-instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” Dale Carnegie