Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Finding Your Calling: What Would You Do if You Were Brave?

I rarely wax philosophical, so this post must be a inadvertent clearing of the head as we draw near to December 31st.

I talk often with students, grads, and adults about the $64 question:

"What do you want to do with your life?"

I've heard everything from,

"I want to be the VP of Engineering!", to "I don't really know what I want to do....I only know what I don't want to do."

In my opinion, both answers are good. I've known engineers that knew they were going to be engineers from their mother's womb. I've known others who, like myself, enjoy doing so many different things that they graduate from college not having made specific plans for the day after graduation.

In making this decision, the mistake made by many of us is that we too often listen to the multitude of voices that are willing to offer up advice about what "we" should be doing with our lives. As my grandfather used to say, "That advice and a nickel will get you a cup of coffee."

What is it that matters most? What is it that you want to do more than anything? What makes you truly happy? What is it that makes you "alive?"

Curt Rosengren says,

"If there's one thing I've discovered over the years, it's that just about anything we set our minds to is possible. Moreover, one of the biggest - if not the biggest - obstacle we face lies smack dab between our ears. We're so often overcome with fear of what might go wrong that we don't dare to even take a step."

"But....what would you do if you were brave?"

In his work, "The Hungering Dark", Frederick Buechner reminds us that the voice we need to listen to most is our own. It's a little long, but hang in there with me...the 30 seconds it takes to read his quote is worth the investment of your time...maybe even your career:

"The voice we should listen to most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest, what can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north and of peace, which is much of what gladness is? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint on canvas? Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words? Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing and it is our thing and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.

And also, where we are most needed. In a world where there is so much drudgery, so much grief, so much emptiness and fear and pain, our gladness in our work is as much needed as we ourselves need to be glad. If we keep our eyes and ears open, our hearts open, we will find the place surely."

Here's to bravery and finding your calling in the coming year,

Dennis Smith
Sr. Manager, Recruiting
T-Mobile USA

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