by David Ward
The word ‘calling’ is often cited as an attraction to a particular vocation, type of work, course of action, or life path. But more specifically and importantly, it concerns the exploitation of talents throughout your life. Indeed, your calling is about understanding why you are here on this earth and understanding your talents is fundamental in achieving this. So, when you answer your call, you understand (as a minimum) why your life matters and for who.
Now I know that is quite a tall statement especially at the start of this post, and for that matter any other monthly post, but it is true. Your calling and happiness walk hand-in-hand, so this month’s post is about answering your call. Let’s go.
You are probably not surprised by another statement, ‘many people fail to answer their calling’, running through life more or less with a hit-and-miss approach or a ‘best guess’ attitude.
Take note that that it is not for the lack of trying or desiring, rather a lack of direction, instruction and, in some cases, tools. Navigating in all of this can feel like a Herculean feat, hence your final judgement is that ‘I haven’t got it in me’, but the truth is quite the opposite.
We can all profit from what we have which means exploiting our talents, the very ones that God has given us. These are your gifts, unique to you and that only you can exploit. This awareness is crucial in igniting your happiness.
Many people are simply not aware of their talents hence they do not exercise them. Furthermore, exercising them especially, for the benefit of others, actionizes your happiness and, of course, that of others. More to the point, if you don’t exercise them then what is the point of having them in the first place? Remember your talents are gifts, just like sunrays at dawn, they are there for everyone to cherish, no one excluded. Your ‘sunrays’ need to shine, every single day, for whoever wants to appreciate them, you included.
So let me add some sense and provide a rationale to all of this.
It is a fact that everyone of us has talents, indeed in my Leadership lectures, I have a test that usually finds people being bewildered just by what they already possess, for many it is an awakening.
In this test I ask people to list the talents they think they have and explain them to the class: to do this I claim them to be the ‘magic words of leadership and leaders’ and I believe they are perfectly suited for my post and you the reader.
Often the list consists of one or two mentions, frequently vague and embarrassing to state, the list is rarely more than 5 items. Moreover, people provide achievements to justify their reasoning without realising that the ‘end-product’ is just well, a result. That is why achievements, like disappointments, never last forever unless we choose so. In actual fact your achievements can actually be a stumbling block as talents need to be exercised every day and the beauty is we have so many to choose from.
But my test doesn’t end here, indeed there is also a blind part of this test in which a course companion is asked to list the talents of his or her colleague. In this second assessment the companion usually lists 10 to 15 talents, that is 2 to 3 times as much mentioned for round 1 of his or her companion! That is some discrepancy and one worth investigating, in fact it is one of the intents of the test: to discover what you think and what others see. I can tell you it is a very stark contrast and I suggest everyone to have their sheet on their desk, in their bag, as a screensaver to remind them of this contrast. You can see an example of such a test sheet below and indeed you can personalise it further i.e., add more magic words. I urge you to try it on yourself, your partner, customers, friends etc. Try translating the words into another language and you will the magic appear in front of your eyes. These words are expressions of your talents, tangible and irrefutable.
When I tell people that it is likely that they have hundreds of these gifts, they either look at me in disbelieve or just simply can’t grasp this talent expanse. Many of these gifts or talents are seen as abilities that in turn split into further abilities or sit alongside each other. For example, if you have a musical ability this usually means that you can sing or play music or both, but it can also see you with the ability to write songs, orchestrate others, teach music, play more than instrument, being good at mathematics!! and so forth. Not surprisingly, it is quite possible to have 500 to 600 abilities with different orders of magnitude because of how much you exercise them. They might be expressed at different stages of your life as your maturity and awareness unfolds and develops. So never underestimate your abilities because they are truly gifts. But, remember, you need to discover them, exercise them and continue to do so throughout life.
The second part of your calling is about understanding which gifts give you the greatest joy and happiness. Hence the answer to this question is entirely in your hands and indeed here you could be in for some surprises. You need to force yourself which talents, when expressed, provide you with the greatest fulfilment and joy?
Before you crumble into self-doubt I’ll remind you that the web is literally littered with such transformational stories and if it is possible for them, it is for you as well. So how do we know when this part of our calling is missing?
When you exploit your gifts just for the benefit of others only there is always something missing, it might be tangible or maybe just a feeling. You probably can’t put your finger on it but you feel that the closure is not there. More often than not as time goes by it becomes really evident that something is missing.
When you do satisfy both sides of your calling you have true happiness, a sort of ring that closes and captures everything, i.e., the closure.
As an example, many celebrities recognise that at a certain point they would like to benefit from their talents that are loved by others e.g., public, but in a different way such as coaching, becoming a pundit, appearing on a talent show etc. Moreover, when such celebrities come from humble backgrounds (and the majority do by the way) they dedicate a lot of effort in helping others to develop their talents. In such cases money, although often a driver, is not the focus but the individual, providing facilities and getting people to believe in themselves i.e., exploit their abilities. More important though is that non-celebrities are equally motivated to achieve the same result, so it doesn’t really matter who you are, as your intention is to help others realise themselves (as well as yourself). So, I believe, that the bottom line for complete happiness is that you need to exploit your talents for others and yourself. If you favour one of the two there will never be complete happiness and your calling will be truncated.
One last thing, while it is true, we have a lifetime to exploit our gifts, we should start to exploit them the very same moment that we realise we possess such gifts. As we don’t know how long we have in this world it is about time we started! Bearing in mind that where the benefits of your gifts meet your desires is where your calling is.
Appropriately, remember also the Danish proverb that says What you are is God’s gift to you, what you do with yourself is your gift to God’ and that is why it is called the ‘present’.
The rest is up to you.
So, on a closing note, this month, or ‘Giving’ August, concentrates our attention on delivering and provides us the ideal footing to answer our call, for the benefit of others as well as ourselves.
Have a happy August, a refreshing rest and set-out to answer your calling. As always thanks for reading as far as here.