giftedness matters !

Monday, February 23, 2015

Is It a Calling Or a Whim?

“If you could do anything you want, what would it be?” That’s a favorite question of career guidance counselors. But it’s a terrible question! It’s as likely to elicit caprice as conviction.

So how can you tell whether your dream is an impulsive whim or an actual calling?

At The Giftedness Center, we never ask someone, “If money were no object, what would you like to do?” That’s because, in truth, most people don’t know the answer to that question. After all, that’s why they’ve come to us. They are looking for help to figure out what their calling is.

Let me admit from the outset that calling is a fairly deep subject with a lot of angles to it. So I won’t give you any three-point formula for figuring out what you are called to do with your life. I tend to agree with the wisdom of Ann Voskamp, who says that “a calling is not a road map. It’s an invitation to take a journey, with the destination described but not revealed.”

If you want a more in-depth presentation on navigating that journey, get a copy of my book, The Person Called YOU: Why You’re Here, Why You Matter & What You Should Do With Your Life.

But what is the subjective experience of determining your calling? How do you know in your gut whether you are “called” to a given path?

Again, there’s no simple formula. But here are some guidelines gleaned from the lived experience of countless people who have wrestled in their minds and souls to figure it all out.

A path you’re considering is most likely a calling if. . .

It fits your giftedness. This is a no-brainer. Nothing of consequence happens in the world apart from people gifted to the task.

You feel drawn to it again and again over time. Calling is intrinsically tied to motivation. You want to do the thing over and over. Indeed, you cannot not keep coming back to it. The naturalist John James Audubon (1785-1851) kept drawing pictures of birds. It didn’t matter where he lived or what his circumstances were (when he was dead broke he left his wife and boys and headed down the Mississippi River to sketch all the birds of North America). He consistently came back to that because he enjoyed it so much.

It meets with encouragement and confirmation from those who know you well and who have your best interests at heart (excepting parents; no time to explain that here, just trust me on it). Others see your giftedness whether you recognize it or not. Pay attention to their affirmation. They’re not just being “kind” or “polite” or “flattering.” If they truly care about you, they are trying to help you see what you were born to do.

You conclude you cannot do otherwise. Callings have a sense of inevitability about them. After the fact—after someone has gone off and done some amazing thing—people will tend to say, “Well, of course they were destined to do that.” But before the fact there is also a pull of what amounts to a requirement or assignment: “I must do this!” One way that expresses itself is through an anticipation of regret: “If I don’t pursue this path, I will always regret that I didn’t at least try it.”

You’ve made it a regular item in your prayers and you have received either (a) a strong indication from God that you should pursue it, and/or (b) no good indication that you should not pursue it. People have a lot of ideas about prayers and God’s will. I will just say that your gifts are from God, and they were given you for a purpose. If that’s true, then no one is more interested than God in seeing you get into the path that was intended for you. So pay attention and look/listen/seek for guidance from Above. And when you get it, do it!

A path you’re considering is most likely a whim if. . .

Your envisioned future keeps changing: one day you want to do this, the next day you want to do that. Callings have staying power. They drive relentlessly toward a particular outcome.

It’s a recent idea and you have not given it much serious thought over time. I probably have ten ideas a day for careers I’d love to pursue. But those notions aren’t callings, they’re fantasies. It’s fun to pretend for a moment what it would be like to be a cop, or to stand on a scaffold on the side of a building washing windows, or to be a performer in Cirque de Soleil. But true callings don’t come about from imagination alone. They are usually the product of serious thought, planning, and intentional action aimed in a given direction.

You have not explored what it really entails, what it would really cost, and what you would really have to do to to make it happen. The next time you think you’re onto a “calling,” ask yourself: “So what am I doing to be serious about this? Where’s the proof?”

It involves grandiosity. Do you feel called to be the President of the United States someday? Are you going to find the cure for cancer? Are you the savior that the public schools have been waiting for? Are you the one who’s going to finally crack the code on world peace? Any “calling” that places you on a throne from the outset is not a calling, but rather the height of arrogance (or at the least, naiveté). It’s fine to have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) that functions like a personal North Star to guide you. But hold off on the coronation ceremony. Callings are first and foremost about serving. Do that for a while, and maybe (just maybe) someone will eventually recognize your efforts as greatness.

It requires strengths and motivations you simply don’t have. This is just a restatement of the giftedness principle above. No one is called to something for which they are not gifted. It’s that simple.

Those who know you well do not affirm it. As stated above, others can see your gifts, even if you can’t. By the same token, they can also see what’s not there—even if you can’t. You may be absolutely convinced that you’re the next Mark Zuckerberg. But if your five best friends disagree, you’d better take a second look in the mirror.

It’s a difficult path for which you are neither talented nor motivated. A telltale sign that someone is pursuing a whim and not a calling is that they underestimate the challenge ahead of them. I’ve met scores of dreamers who had an idea all concepted and scaled and ready to go public—but hadn’t yet made a single sale. It turns out that life is tough. I mean, really tough! And adversities have a way of knocking out the pretenders. Only someone who is called—who is dedicated, committed, tenacious, persevering, and genuinely competent—will last long enough to get the result they are seeking.

The Bottom Line
I’ve met many people who told me they felt “called” to a given career. I have never questioned their sense of calling. That’s not my place. But when I look at the long-term outcomes, here’s my conclusion:

It’s hard for me to believe that the person who experiences repeated setbacks, failures, crises, conflicts, marital difficulties, health problems, and financial troubles is following their call. I’m not minimizing the challenges of life. Without a doubt, life is hard whether you’re following your calling or not. But a calling never destroys a person, no matter how bad things get.

Meanwhile, someone who is truly called sees results, regardless of the troubles that come their way. They see actual fruit from their labors. And that outcome fills them with joy, no matter how bad things around them seem, or how small and seemingly insignificant the victory seems. 

The point is, a calling means you’re supposed to go somewhere. And yeah, some people enjoy the journey more than the destination. That’s fine. But in the end, the One who called you to your labors is less interested in your satisfaction than in you getting the job done—because no one else benefits unless that happens.

Question: How do you know you’re called to the work you’re doing?

NEXT POST ON Five Questions to Ask When You Enter Someone’s Story


  1. Money can change you, so you need to be stubborn and cheerful to be a good person. Thanks a lot.

  2. Excellent post, must say thanks for the information you added to this post. I appreciate your post and looking forward for more. webstagram

  3. Find a subject for your writing - mostly useful when you are dealing with an article. For example, "food in California" will cover extensively your experience in tasting the special cuisine from this region and not the nature or the film industry.   Authors Unite

  4. I adore each of the content, I seriously liked, I would really like details about it, since it is quite very good., Cheers intended for talking over. call domingo

  5. The post is written in very a good manner and it contains many useful information for me. online international calling card

  6. soften off Pure Dietary Keto your body. 3. EXERCISE In order to kick your Pure Pure Dietary Ketoary Keto journey into excessive gear you have to get your body shifting. I don't care if you call it operating out, exercise, aerobics or whatever the point is you have to do something to get your heart charge up and your sweat glands operating time beyond regulation. Exercise is the important thing to sustainable, durable and real .

  7. into ultimate years Keto XP jeans by means of the stop of this 12 months. Some human beings have modified their whole exercises via using these strategies and are not even concerned anymore! Choosing the right and wholesome Keto XP diet regime not require some studies on how effective the Keto XP plan is in helping you obtain your Keto XP goal in precise time but additionally whether or not the plan is one that leads to long term Keto XP. Keto XPy weight reduction Keto XP plan must be the intention of many .

  8. tommyhilfigerschweizJanuary 23, 2021 at 3:43 AM

    Impressive! I am amazed at how well you use words to get your point across. I would be interested in reading more of your work. tommyhilfigerschweiz

  9. Through this content, you can get motivation and awareness about your lives and spend a successful life. We should always follow good rules and enjoy good life. Buy Dissertation Online.

  10. Meanwhile, someone who is truly called sees results, regardless of the troubles that come their way. They see actual fruit from their labors. And that outcome fills them with joy, no matter how bad things around them seem, or how small and seemingly insignificant the victory seems.
    black shalwar design
    black and white salwar kameez designs

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Madrasah Education Board is most popular in the country of Bangladesh, and they have successfully conducted the Junior Dakhil Certificate JDC Result 2022 examination tests for Grade 8 level students at all education boards at all divisions in district wise across in the country, and there are lakhs of students are appeared from all Madhrasah’s of the country, and the Secondary Education Board also completed the JDC terminal exams 2022 successfully based on JDC routine 2022.


  13. WB HS Model Paper 2023 2023 has announced West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education is the West Bengal state government administered autonomous, West Bengal Board Students who are going to sit in Public Examination 2023 are allowed to Download WBCHSE 12th Sample Paper 2023 2023 Download our web Portal, Higher secondary Exam are Going to Start in the Month of march , West Bengal HS Model Paper 2023 This is the Golden Period for Students to Prepare their Exam. All those students who want to boost their exam Past Paper 2023 Preparation can Download WBCHSE 12th Previous Question Paper 2023 2023. Provide Latest and Last Year Exam Study Material for Syllabus 2023, Question Paper 2023 etc, Bengali, English Medium Pdf Format.

  14. This is a beautiful poem that really speaks to the heart. The imagery is stunning and the emotions are so real. I absolutely love it!

  15. Tamil Nadu Education Board SSLC 10th Class Question Papers 2023, Download TN Board SSLC 10th Class Question Papers From Here and Make Your Preparation Better for the Upcoming Exams of Class 10th the Official Tamil Nadu Board of School Education will Release Soon the TN 10th Model Paper 2023, TN 10th Model Paper 2023 TN SSLC Important Questions Paper 2023, Tamil English Hindi for Class 10th Students. Every one of the Students will Able to Download Their Documents From Official Site by Providing Some Details. you can Access Also all Type of Documents From our Portal Related to Tamil Nadu SSLC Exams 2023,

  16. Thanks for sahare this information its really informative for all you are the best writer for all
    london vip nightclub booking

  17. What a motivational article i must say i was hope and was thinking to not take my online exam but you made me motivated about life goals

  18. Looking for pressure and tension treatment? Our organization offers custom-designed treatment programs, including tension medicine, to help overcome feelings, negative thoughts, and issues. Relationship Counseling Cincinnati

  19. สล็อต pg ทาง เข้า slot ทาง เข้า เว็บแตกง่าย สมัครเล่นวันนี้แจกฟรี ยินดีต้อนรับทุนท่านไปสู่จักรวาลที่สุด PG SLOT แสนจะท้าทายที่พร้อมจะพาคุณไปเปิดประตูสู่ความร่ำรวยอย่างมากมาย

  20. Please keep it up!.Great tips, I would like to join your blog anyway.Waiting for some more review. Thank you. Medical marijuanas Australia

  21. I will prefer this blog because it has much more informative stuff. Best Online Supplement Store Australia


Your thoughts?