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Bruce Holland

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From a Job to a Calling

A story

"I've got just the job for you! Come and join us," she said as she pointed to the organisation chart filled with boxes and lines. "It has a great salary and benefits."

"But I'm a star!" he protested. "Stars don't fit into boxes - at least the pointy bits that shine brightest don't. For me, it's not so much 'what I get' as 'what I give' that matters. Also, my autonomy, ability to follow my passion and have total control over my destiny matters far more than money."

It's natural to follow your calling

Just as a seed for a plant, or a tree, somehow 'knows' what it will someday be, human beings have within them a sense of 'purpose' - a 'knowledge' of what they are intended to be. This knowledge is not necessarily clearly defined but it is there. This is why the best teacher is not the one who tells you something you didn't know before, but the one who helps you express the truth that you've been struggling to utter.

When people are angry, greedy or self-interested; it's usually because they are frustrated by the sense their seed is unable to grow. Yet this is what organisations do nearly all the time. They put people into jobs with very little thought about who the person is, what their purpose is, or what their 'calling' is. And they wonder why people become angry, disillusioned or disengaged.

Management usually tries to stop the misbehavior; but this is like trying to stop water coming out of a hose by putting your finger over the end. It just leads to even more pressure.

The problems come about, partly because we are not allowed to do something, but mostly because we are not allowed to be somebody. Let people be somebody by following their calling then behaviours like anger, violence, greed and self-interest are replaced by love, care, connection and teamwork.

The difference between a 'job' and a 'calling'

  • In a job 'we are defined by our boundaries.' These are described in our job description, and the rules we agree to follow; both of which were written by someone else. In a calling 'we are defined by our horizon.' These are described by our dreams, our hopes and our purpose in life; all of which were written by us and are integral to who we are.

  • In a job 'we play within boundaries.' Stay inside the fence. The best strategy for success is to stay put, to do our best, and to wait for our box to move up the chart. In a calling 'we play with boundaries.' Move outside the fence. The best strategy is to step out, challenge the system and hope others catch up.

  • In a job the aim is to satisfy as many people as possible. In a calling the aim is to delight the people who care. People with callings don't make everyone happy; otherwise they would be average.

  • In a job 'we compete with each other.' We play to win. Defend the box, defend the system, and mostly, make sure you keep your guard up. In a calling anyone who is working broadly towards the same ends is a friend so we play to bring as many people onboard as possible. If we compete with anyone, 'we compete with ourselves.'

  • In a job it's about 'follow the leader.' In a calling it's about 'be the leader.' In a job, 'fit in, even if it hurts.' In a calling, 'make waves, even if it hurts.'

Can you have callings inside a large organisation?

The answer is yes! But managers have to change the way they think:

  1. Many managers don't believe that each of the people they manage has a calling. My work with hundreds of people, helping them uncover their genius factor shows me that every one of them has a deeper purpose, a reason for being. It's just that we don't believe in ourselves enough to go looking for it and our managers don't believe enough in us to encourage us to. Can you imagine a world where everyone used their genius to work on their calling?

  2. The idea of a 'job' is so deeply ingrained that most managers don't give even a second to question it. Yet this is exactly what boxes people in, and stops them from stepping out, even if that's where their genius would be most useful. A few managers divide work into bigger pieces that are done by 'whole-brained project teams' working together with fewer boundaries and a bigger horizon than can ever be achieved using jobs.

  3. Most managers think they are managing a hierarchy (organisational tree) and act accordingly. This has been their experience and it's what they have been trained to do. They know about the formal structures of job descriptions, organisational charts, process flows, score cards, strategies and physical structures. Actually they are managing a network of relationships; and, the way they should manage each is completely different. They are far less comfortable and familiar with the fuzzier aspects like informal networks, cultural norms, shared values, emotional realities and peer pressure. These informal aspects aren't as easy to define, as the formal, because they don't have clear structural boundaries and they have been less studied, are less well-defined and less written about.

  4. Some managers feel uncomfortable about talking about 'spiritual' aspects of their people. Interestingly, they are more comfortable talking about 'inspiration' not realising that both words spring from the same root and mean much the same thing.

My prediction

I predict that jobs will eventually disappear because Stars will want answers that jobs don't provide, like:

  1. Will I experience joy in my work?
  2. Will others experience joy as a result of my work?
  3. How will my work connect to the great work of the universe?
  4. What will I learn at work?
  5. Will I grow younger each day?
  6. What is sacred about the work I will do?

Are you and your managers ready for the change?

´┐╝Regards Bruce.
Bruce Holland
Virtual Group Business Consultants
Phone +6421620456 or Skype Bruce.Holland
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Key words: Leadership, leadership development, leadership management, leadership training, leadership program, leadership skills.

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