Po Bronson was quoted as saying, “A calling is not something you just know the moment you see it. It’s something you grow into.” I believe it was from his book “What Should I Do With My Life?” I first read this in March of this year and even wrote it down in my journal. I have been thinking about it ever since and have come to the conclusion that I am not sure if I agree. I can tell you that my belief (before I read this statement) was quite different. I believed that your calling would be something that you would know instantaneously when you first experienced it. The challenge is trying to reconcile my thought with the fact that, sometimes, there are people who begin doing something with no intention of it being their life’s work only to have it come to be so.
I added a level of complexity to the issue the other night when I discussing strategy with a group of new MBA students. I was asking them why they had selected to pursue an MBA and many of them could not provide me with a specific detailed plan other than they believed it would be good for their career. I asked them because I wanted them to see that the same tools you use for developing business strategy could also be used at the micro-level for developing strategies for your life. I told them to be sure to have a plan. Not one that could not be altered to take advantage of opportunities but they at least needed a rough idea of where they wanted to go. The class went well and I was on my way home when I had an epiphany. It takes me about 40 minutes to drive home from the university and it provides me with time to reflect on the discussions and determine what worked and what did not. This night I was struck by how my statement was, sub-consciously, a directive that would assist them in avoiding a mistake I had made.
From the time I was in junior high school, I wanted to be a lawyer. I can remember from the moment college became a serious thought, the direction was pre-law. Never a doubt or deviation from the goal. Looking back, I am not even sure why but can tell you that my die had been cast and that was what I wanted to do. Fast forward to August 1990 and my goal was about to be realized. I was accepted to and attending Law School @ Ohio State. Within 6 weeks, I was horribly disillusioned and decided that, in fact, I did not want to be a lawyer. I think the reasons for this decision were many. The main driver was that I had spent my undergrad years studying English Literature & Philosophy and very much enjoyed the discourse it required. I found law school to be confining and mind numbingly boring. That was it & I quit.
Since that day (19 years ago), I have done a multitude of things that I will not take the time to list here. Suffice to say it has been an interesting path. The part that struck me that evening on my drive home was that my decision to attend law school was the last decision I made with an end goal in mind. Every decision since then has been a “decision of opportunity” that led to another and yet another. I was quite shocked by this revelation and have been thinking about it since that evening.
So here are a few questions for those energetic & interested enough to share:
- Is our calling something we just know or something we grow into?
- Should we pursue things we enjoy doing or do we take the opportunity in front of us?