Earlier this year, I gave a presentation for the Medici Project’s Development Labs, geared toward students wanting to become entrepreneurs. I talked about finding your calling and moving ideas forward as an entrepreneur – two concepts which I’ve written about before and am studying as a part of my doctorate. However, these ideas are not solely relevant for entrepreneurs. Instead I find among my friends, the students that I coach, and even personally that we all are trying to identify Who am I? and then What do I with that? In other words, how do we act on who we are, moving forward in our ideas about our future?
Really it’s the premise of this blog: Life is a journey and a discovery process. We try new things and figure out who we are (or are not) in the process, which then fuels us to try new things out, and so the cycle continues.
Most of us don’t have an intuitive sense of our purpose in life. For instance, I grew up with a dad who was an entrepreneur, and I always told him that I’d never be one myself. Yet through putting my strengths and passions into action, I soon discovered that the entrepreneurial path actually was my calling. So, it requires work. You must take action to jumpstart the discovery process.
As I’ve written before, we can’t expect to understand who we are and what we’re meant to be doing by waiting for all of the pieces to fall into place before we put ourselves out there. Instead, pieces begin to fall into place as we take messy, complicated, beautiful steps forward. Every step of the journey reveals a bigger glimpse of our calling and how to keep moving forward.
Putting your calling into action and moving your ideas forward requires two things: adaptability and authenticity. In fact, these two topics of adaptability and authenticity emerge in the research on finding meaningful careers, and they relate to moving your ideas about the future forward too. A lot of us fall on one side of the spectrum or the other. We either want to jump straight to action and put all our ideas out there, being totally adaptable. Or we are afraid to act because we want everything to be totally authentic and true to who we are. Instead, we need to develop a balance between the two, allowing one to fuel the other and visa versa.
In my Medici Project presentation, I depicted this cycle in this slide:
As you can see, we need adaptability to be open to new opportunities and to be willing to put our ideas out there, even if we find out they’re not for us or if we fail. While we exercise this adaptability, we are shaping who we are and developing authenticity in return.
When we live from a place of authenticity, we can make decisions while staying open to change because we are confident in the core of who we are (ie. the why behind our actions). This then allows us to put our calling into action while being open to change and moving our ideas forward (adaptability). While taking action, we come to understand more of ourselves (ie what works, what doesn’t), and this further develops our authenticity.
My question for you is: Do you tend to get stuck on the authenticity or the adaptability side of the cycle?
- Do you stay on the authenticity side, not wanting to do anything that isn’t perfect or fully who you are? Are you hesitant to take take steps forward – whether toward a new career, a lifelong dream, etc. – before you are 100% sure it will work? If so, then try moving toward the adaptability side, taking action and seeing what happens.
- Or do you stay on the adaptability side, trying more and more and new and new things, without getting to the core of the why first? Do you jump from one exciting thing to another before fully understanding what you’re learning about yourself in the process? If so, then come back to your why. Why are you passionate? And from this place, put your ideas into action.
Our identities and our callings are not static; instead it’s a continual process of listening, asking, and acting… And that’s what makes this journey such an adventure.