There’s this assumption that we collectively seem to have that a career is automatically good. Even more, there’s this idea floating around that if you help yourself and do what you want, then it automatically helps other people too. People who like this idea share a story about honey bees. They explain that bees go out and pollinate flowers not because they care about flowers, but because they want to make honey. The bees are “selfish”, and the flower pollination is just a positive side effect. So, they say, if you go pursue what you want, it automatically helps other people.
While I agree that hiding out, taking the path of least resistance, and living small doesn’t serve anyone, I don’t agree that a positive impact is automatic, just by engaging. To use another insect parable, fire ants just do their thing too, but when fire ants swarm, it’s not great.
A Human Example
I saw an article recently titled Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built. The link to it is here if you’re interested. It turns out that some folks worked hard creating new technology, only to find out later that they really didn’t like the effects their technology created. There are downsides to technology that affect people and social interactions. These folks decided that their carreer wasn’t having an automatic positive impact.
It’s not just about technology either. People can pour their life into a job producing something that has detrimental side effects for individuals or for society. Even if it is mostly good, it might not be the good that you care about and would want to be personally making.
Your Career and Your Calling
Many folks believe that their calling and their career are the same. Your job or your career might be pretty cool. It might be great fun and you might be really, really good at it. Maybe you can even make great money at it. This sounds perfect, and for years I thought this was the golden formula. However, your job might not automatically be making the positive impact in the world that you want to be making.
I believe your job and your calling can be and are often different from each other. A calling isn’t what you do. A calling is what you are a stand for. (I know, it’s not even proper English) Your career might be awesome, but if it’s not helping what you want your life to stand for, then it’s not your calling. This doesn’t mean your career is bad. It just means that it doesn’t fullfill everything you would want or need in life.
Be A Stand
To know your calling, you must know what you stand for.
What is in you that wants to be expressed as a life-long stand for something?
That’s the question.
Until you have an answer to that question, a lot of your life won’t make sense. The big “why?” for your life will be missing.
Without a clear “why” for your life, it will be filled with just stuff – stuff that came up, stuff that your friends are doing, stuff that is convenient, stuff that is fun and feels good, stuff that other people have for you, stuff that makes money, and more. Your life will be “stuffed”, and there will be little rhyme or reason to it all.
To tie it all back together, what you are involved in right now might not be making a positive impact. It might be having unintended consequences. And what you are doing might not be lined up with the stand you want to be with your life. But when your life lines up behind your “why”, watch out! That’s when amazing things will happen.