Over the past several weeks, Veronica and I have been evaluating the purchase of a cabin in Northwest Montana. Our intention was to use it for exclusive leadership retreats and an extension to my business model here at StartupCamp.com
I poured myself into this idea. Mountains, wilderness, adventure, business. They all fit at the center of who I am. So, we investigated. We flew up to view properties, we talked with locals, forged an extensive business plan, made spreadsheets and presentations, and even brought in several trusted friends to help us evaluate the opportunity.
There were days I was ready to make an offer. Then, there were days I was on the fence. But one night, exhausted from assessment, sitting quietly in our bedroom, I believe God gave me these words:
“Don’t let what you want to do prevent what you’re meant to do.”
Whoa… I sat up. I wrote them down, and finally… I felt at ease. “We’re not doing it,” I said to Veronica. “As incredible as it sounds, I feel it’s a distraction from what I’m meant to do.” She looked at me with a confident smirk and said, “Good.”
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, “Well, Dale, what are you meant to do?” While I know the answer to that question, I’m not ready to share it publicly quite yet. It’s been a five-year journey of unearthing one piece at a time–similar to a delicate excavation of a priceless relic. My time will come to step into this journey publicly, but not here and not today.
However, from this experience, I have a few valuable lessons to share. Lessons I believe will help those of you struggling to differentiate the fine line between passion and calling. For those who are seeking clarity or are in need of being rescued from “paralysis by analysis.” While my points below don’t specifically address the steps in finding your calling, I believe they do offer profitable instruction to support that journey.
1. All Things Should Support Your Greater Calling, Not Deter From It.
It’s my belief that each one of you has a purpose on this planet. Something with significance and meaning. Ultimately, this is specific work to be done by you and only by you. Work the stems from your natural giftings, aspirations, and story. Sadly, many people never find it. Their inability to focus and their addiction to busy prevents them from experiencing the consistency required to know one’s self.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” But saying no to opportunities, especially good ones when they are within arm’s reach, is difficult. Developing the restraint to question and evaluate if every move is bringing you closer to your calling or distracting you from it, is laborious.
As leaders, business owners, and responsible adults we must learn to operate from a place of vision. Remember, a journey without a destination is called lost. If we aim to be wise stewards of our navigation and our time, we must clearly know our port of call.
We must leverage and shape every opportunity and choice to drive us closer to the main arena, not the sideshow.
Possessing the level of directional confidence is often found in the skill of discernment. One’s intuition to take into consideration the implications (near and far) of their actions. But furthermore, it often requires a painful “falling out of love” with an idea–to almost uninvite it from our brain. It’s this level of discipline and self-control which leads people to their life’s work, instead of busy work.
2. Just Because It’s Smart Doesn’t Mean It’s Right.
I’ll be honest; there was nothing dumb about buying that cabin. I had the business model conservatively pushing out $250,000 of profit per year in addition to the mortgage being paid off by 2027. By all accounts, this was a “smart business decision”.”But having the ability to determine the difference between smart and right becomes another important skill for those looking to live out their life’s purpose.
To make this point even trickier, you must be capable of defining what “right” is. For example, in philosophy the word “ought” has an implied divinity. It lends itself to a universal right and wrong. In other words, phrases like “should, ought, and right” are much deeper than we might realize.
As many of you know, I’m a Christian. Which means I use the Bible as the foundation for my moral compass. Now, I’m not preaching at you as much as I’m making you aware of the need for a stable, unchanging place which you can make “right” and “wrong” judgment calls. As a great writer once said:
“When the storm has swept by, the unfounded are gone but the firm stand forever.”
3. Don’t Make Decisions From A Room Without Windows, Mirrors, And Doors
At some point, we must come to the conclusion that leading a private life is a liability. If Veronica and I chose to make our decision without seeking the counsel of safe friends, I have no doubt we would be in escrow at this very moment.
Maturity reminds us that solo judgment almost always causes backfire. Instead, we must open the doors for other’s opinions, look into the mirror and confront of our flaws, and peer out the windows of our past to make use of our history. Isolation will surely keep us confused, but people and perspective will always be the protectors of our callings.
Finding our purpose is not a private ordeal; it is a complex work assumed by a variety of people, places, and experiences.
Bottom line: open your heart and mind to community. If your mission is to have vision and find a firmness in your calling, if it is to escape the common bewilderment of life, and if it is to see what most miss, then fight for the openings in the room. They are not to hold you in, but to let you out.
Passion is defined as this, ‘the willingness to suffer for something you love.’ Calling is defined as ‘the ultimate realization of a unique work.’ They are so intimately woven together that most will never identify the difference. But for those of you searching for assuredness, those looking to live ferociously in the balance, and those looking to end this life with confirmation of a fulfilled call, join me in the beautiful discovery of differentiating the two.
What about you? Have you struggled with this? Was this article helpful or do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments below.
Go From Career To Calling
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