I was recently reading a book by Dan Millman, entitled “The Four Purposes of Life.” In this book Dan is discussing the difference between a career and a calling.
On page 57 day Dan says, “Many high achievers have been pushed to the top of their professional ladders by social pressures or parental expectations, only to discover that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.”
The Merriam Webster on-line dictionary defines a “career” as “a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life.”
When you pursue a career, you energetically lean your career ladder against a career wall for that career. Each rung on the career ladder represents a higher level position in that career. Each rung on the ladder usually represents more money, more prestige, more recognition and more responsibility. You start at the lowest rung, which is typically the entry-level position for that career. As you gain additional experience or complete additional education such as a graduate degree, you move to the next rung on your career ladder.
If you are promoted to a new position at the same company, such as a manager, supervisor, department head, you move up to the next rung. If you move to a new company and accept another new position, you may move to the next rung or even skip a couple of rungs.
You continue climbing the career ladder of your choice until you reach a rung you are satisfied to have reached, or your reach the top of the ladder for your career (e.g., you become the CEO of the company you are working for, etc.).
Stephen R. Convey who wrote the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, is quoted as saying “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”
What wall is your career ladder leaning against?
Your career ladders is a virtual energetic ladder comprising your education and experience up to this point.
Step back for a moment and answer these questions about your own career.
- What career wall is your career ladder leaning against? – Is it the right wall? If it is not the right career wall, what wall would you move it to?
- Is your career ladder leaning against a career wall because of pressure and expectations from your family, significant other, community, religion, etc.? If you could move your career ladder to a new career wall without such pressures and expectations what career wall would that be?
- What are the actions you need to complete to get to the very top rung on your career ladder? Is it possible for you to reach the top rung during your professional career? What will it cost you? Are you willing to pay the price to get there?
The Merriam Webster on-line dictionary defines a “calling” as “a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.”
So what is the difference between a career and a calling? Can they be the same thing? Do they ever overlap?
A “calling” is something that you know at a soul level that you were meant to accomplish and only you can accomplish in your own unique way.
There was a TV series in the 1960’s called Mission Impossible. It was on television long before the Mission Impossible movies Tom Cruise did. At the beginning of each episode an agent was directed to find a hidden tape recorder and an envelope of photographs that explains his/her current mission. The agent listens to the tape that briefly describes the mission. The tape then ended with the words, “should you decide to accept it…” The tape then self-destructed after it was played so it cannot be replayed.
Your calling is very similar to the missions given to the agents in the Mission Impossible series. It is something you know you were given and is part of you, but need to decide accept it and embrace it your lifetime.
A calling typically involves collaborating with others and be of services others. A calling is something you just feel in your heart you need to do.
The primary difference between a career and calling is a career is something we do to earn a living while a calling is something we do to find inner peace and personal satisfaction. For many people their calling is nothing more than a hobby they are passionate about. For others, their calling becomes their career and they merge into the same thing.
What wall is your calling ladder leaning against?
You calling ladder is also a virtual energetic ladder, but of a very different kind. It comprises how consciously evolved you are that that point.
Step back for a moment and answer these questions about your own calling.
- What is your calling? – What is it you are most passionate about? What can you talk about or think about for hours on end and being 100% absorbed in?
- Could you turn your calling into your career? – What would it take for you to earn income pursuing your calling? Is it possible to do so?
- Could your calling ladder and your career ladder be one ladder leaning on same wall? – What would you ladder look like? What wall would be leaning against?
Can you make your calling into a successful career and lean your career ladder against that wall?
Out There on the Edge of Everything®…
Stephen Lesavich, PhD
Copyright © 2019, by Stephen Lesavich, PhD. All rights reserved.
Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.
If you would like to receive personal coaching by Dr. Lesavich, please visit his life coaching web-site for additional information.
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