Our calling and the expression of our calling
There’s our “calling”, and then there’s the “expression of our calling”. They sound similar, but they are two very different things.
A calling is your answer to the question, “Why am I here?”
This sounds like a big question, and it is, but the answer is simple.
Talk to people you look up to, read the accounts of people you admire and you’ll see a pattern. The underlying theme that drives them, their calling, isn’t some long, drawn out purpose statement. It’s often a simple sentence or two.
The other thing you’ll notice is that their calling is not a definition of what they do for a living. Their calling might be related to what they do, but a it isn’t the title on their business card.
How we put our calling to use is what I call “the expression of our calling.” The expression is where things get sophisticated. The expression is where our skill meets our passion. The expression is the outward execution of our internal calling.
Oprah’s calling is to teach, and use her passion for teaching to uplift others. The Oprah Winfrey show, her magazines, speeches, movies and overall empire are an expression of that calling. Her calling, from what I’ve read, was always there, even from a young age. The mission in her life was to get better and better at expressing and executing that calling.
When I hear smart people say “I haven’t found my calling yet” I question their statement. Is it really that they haven’t found their calling? Or is it that they’re still working on how to express their calling? It could be both, to me it more often feels like the latter.
Sometimes people think their calling is too simple. They think it needs to sound fancier or more complicated than it is. I know I used to feel this way.
Growing up my dad placed a lot of importance on family and community. He taught me the same thing his dad taught him: at the end of the day it’s the relationships around us that make life rich. From a young age the thing I looked forward to the most was spending time with my family, especially my twenty-plus cousins. It didn’t matter if we were just sitting around the house, washing dishes, or doing homework, when I was with my cousins I felt like life was full. They got me and I got them. We had our our parents and grandparents to thank for creating that culture of support.
As I grew up and realized how lucky I was to have the family I do, I also realized that I could bring the same lessons of support that I learned from my family to my larger community. I started building websites and hosting events for different groups that I was involved with. Groups like meditation clubs, people interested in wellness, and cultural groups too. The hope was that the skill of caring I learned from my family would bring these communities closer together. And it worked fantastically! When I brought groups closer together, in my unique way, people felt more supported and all sorts of deep friendships formed.
One day, at an event I was hosting, someone asked me what my calling was. Without really thinking about it I just quickly replied back, “I think it has something to do with bringing community together.” Whoa! The speed of my answer kind of shocked me. It seemed so obvious and yet, after thinking about it a little more, it also seemed way too simple. I mean… bringing people together… is that even a calling?
Bringing community together, that’s my calling. Who gives a shit if it sounds too simple. A calling isn’t something someone else picks for you. It’s something you pick for yourself. It’s your answer to the question, “Why am I here?” My answer to that question is simple, I’m here to build community.
One day a friend asked me if being the co-founder and ceo of a wellness company is my calling. I told him it wasn’t. He looked a little confused and followed up with, “When do you think you’ll start living your calling?” I told him he was confused, I was living my calling.
Being founder of a company isn’t my calling, but it does allow my calling to express itself. I love building community and through Clean I’ve had the opportunity to connect a lot of people. My business partners and I have brought a team together that really cares about each other. And that same team has helped build a world wide community of thousands of people who have similar values. Best of all, we’re having a blast doing it.
I like talking about wellness, I like helping people get healthy, I’m good at business, but these things aren’t my calling. They’re all just part of the expression. I had to get good at them to allow my calling to unfold.
Today when I talk about my love for building community it can seem obvious to others. But it’s only obvious in their minds because they think I’m successful. Translation, they see me making good money doing what I’m doing and they think I must have it figured out.
If I can claim that I have anything figured out it’s this: don’t doubt your calling.
I’ve known that building community was my calling for at least 10 years now. When I was younger, I felt it, but as I grew older I found the words to express it.
Even when I was making hardly any money and felt totally confused about what to do in life, I always knew what my calling was. I just didn’t know how it was going to express itself.
And who knows how it will express itself in the years to come. Anytime I feel anxious about the future I remind myself that it’s not my job to worry about what may or may not happen. No, that’s a waste of time.
My job, the number one most important thing for me to focus on is this: remember the answer to the question “Why am I here”, and let go of anything that doesn’t serve that higher purpose, especially my own limiting beliefs.