Calling Is Not as Mysterious as You Think

A letter to young women in leadership
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Dear Young Leader:

Have you found your calling?

If you’re like me, you’ve spent some time thinking about this question. And if you’re like I was a while back, you aren’t sure how to answer. You may find yourself in circumstances you’ve largely fallen into, not sure exactly how you came to be there, how you’ve been there for as long as you have, and whether you really belong. And if you’re like a lot of my coaching clients, you haven’t found a satisfactory answer to the question of what you are meant to do. You’d like to live with purpose, but you’re not sure what your specific and unique purpose is.

As someone who has worked through these questions, and as a professional who helps others discover their purpose and pursue it, let me encourage you with a little demystification. Purpose and calling are not as mysterious as we sometimes believe they are. They are with us from the beginning of our lives, and they unfold as we grow and change. The most important thing to understand about your calling is that who you are is always far more important than what you do. And what you do will never fulfill your calling by itself.

Your purpose is not specific to your professional work or any of the other roles you play. You were created with intentionality that transcends your circumstances. You were not put here simply to do anything—you were put here to be you. And you are a specialist at doing just that. In fact, you’re the only one with the necessary qualifications.

While you may be called to different roles or relationships at various points in your life, ultimately your calling is not something to do. It is someone to be. It is rooted in the person you are at your core. And here’s even better news: you don’t really have to find it. It’s already with you.

Now, even though you have been you since the day you were born, you may not be entirely sure who that person is. After all, our true selves can be easily buried under a mountain of expectations, a cloak of shame, a deluge of self-protection and second guessing and crushing self-doubt. You may have spent nearly every day of your life trying to be someone else. You may be so good at it, you actually think that person you’re trying to be really is you. You may be tremendously out of touch with your true self, and you may need some help to find her.

Let me point you in one potentially helpful direction. Chances are, you have already found your calling, and you have seen glimpses of your true self, whether you know it or not. You can find clues to it by looking back to moments in your life when you have felt fully alive.

July21, 2016 at 8:00 AM

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