Written on the 1 April 2008 by world-leading inspirational speaker, best selling author and star of ‘The Secret’ Dr Joh
Work can be a drudge or a dream—or anything in between. Like everything else in your life, you determine exactly what it’s going to be.
If you’re waking up each morning on fire, feeling called to great service and devoted to an inspiring purpose, vision, and mission, no doubt you feel as if work isn’t work at all: It’s a kind of play with monetary benefits. On the other hand, if you turn back the covers each morning and groan, “Oh man, I wish I could just stay in bed,” and dread your 9-to-5 (or whatever hours you keep) work, then surely you feel as if your job is a “burden” and a “necessary evil.” On the continuum of “job satisfaction” that employers are always trying to measure and employees are always hoping to max out, there’s a level at which some people feel a mystical draw to serve in a particular way. They feel that this is what they were meant to do, and this particular profession is their raison d’être—their purpose here on Earth. These people still have all kinds of ups and downs in their work: They perceive “successes” and “failures,” feel “happy” and “sad,” experience “contentment” and “frustration,” and so on—just like everyone else. Having a job you love doesn’t exempt you from the human experience, of course. The difference is that those who are called to their work feel a kind of “fit” to their profession; it’s what Buddhists call “right livelihood”—making a living in such a way that benefits both oneself and others.
If you’re not having this kind of experience yet and would love to, it’s time to get in touch with your true vocation . . . your calling.
The 1996 book by James Hillman, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling, puts forth a theory that you simply need to pay attention to your young life in order to spot early rumblings of your calling, even if it wasn’t in full voice yet. He recounts how both famous people and average folk experience the call. For example, actress and singer Judy Garland received her first accolades for an impromptu performance at two years old. She had watched another young girl’s solo and had been transfixed by the sight of it. According to her sister’s account, Judy (born Frances Gumm) turned to her father then and pleaded, “Can I do that, Daddy?” He encouraged her, and the next chance she had, the toddler stepped onstage and belted out her version of “Jingle Bells,” to which the crowd roared in approval. She started singing again, louder this time, and the crowd responded in kind. Eventually, her father had to pull her off stage. Hillman observes: “Garland of the Hollywood Bowl and Carnegie Hall was already there in two-year-old Baby Gumm.”
That’s a pretty dramatic, clear-cut example. But a sense of calling isn’t limited to those who hear it strongly right from the start. Sometimes you have to look for subtler clues: The child who referred to pill bugs, lizards, and caterpillars she’d collected as “my little friends” might be called to veterinary medicine; the one who lost herself in books might find her vocation in writing, and so on.
Your calling can be amplified by applying some time and attention to it. If you’re not already feeling “called” to your profession, you can look at other areas of your life, both at the present time and in the past, when you’ve felt uplifted and inspired in some way by something.
But what if after looking back and looking around you, you don’t see a pattern yet? What if you can’t identify the times in your past when you felt as if you were in your element, doing what you were meant to do?
Show yourself the money.
You might start with the question: If I were to give you $5 million right now, what would you do with your life? Be honest. What makes your heart beat faster? What brings a tear to your eye?
Ultimately, this exercise is about being true to yourself. A business is like a body: It gives you signs and symptoms to help guide you to your truth. If your current position, profession, or line of business feels “dysfunctional” or “diseased,” take this as a clear signal that it’s time to reconnect with the truth of who you really are. What a treasure it is to be able to read those signs and symptoms and take action! Just as in your physical body, your business, your relationships, your social network—anywhere you engage with the world—gives you feedback to be true to yourself. The universe operates as a matrix, trying to lead every one of us back to authenticity and love.
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Time: 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM
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