One of my favorite TedTalks of all time is by Steve Tomlinson about finding your calling. I forgot about this talk and was reminded in Austin Kleon’s newsletter (which I really enjoy, fyi). This talk is inspiring and simple. I really liked a quote he referenced that was actually by Aristotle (he quoted a similar quote by Frederick Buechner):
“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” — Aristotle
Finding my calling has been one of the most frustrating and time-wasting pursuits I have done in my life. This could be an answer to that interview question I really hate, ‘What would you tell your younger self.” Duh, all the freakin answers. Finding your calling is not an event, it is a work in progress. Key word is work. I have spent years wracking my brain looking/thinking/strategizing for talents and that one thing I am really good at that I can turn into a living. How can I get paid to do what I love? The problem has always been I really don’t know what I love. What is my thing? I study and learn everything that intrigues me or sparks my interest, so I have always had the jack of all trades curse hanging around my neck.
I love being well-rounded, but I desperately want to be where my talents and the needs of the world cross. I want people to need my skills and talents, but I have tried for a long time to figure out what my ‘thing’ is. I know a little about a lot of things, more than I give myself credit for, but nothing has ever jumped out. My solution has always been to just keep learning and dabbling and what, you will stop on the one that screams out, STOP! this is the thing for you! This is what you are best at and what you should be doing for the rest of your life? Sounds silly but that is kind of what I was thinking as do a lot of people I think. They jump from job to job hoping one is something they enjoy and they can be proud of and that pays them good money. Never satisfied and the grass is always greener. I’m tired of this approach. I actually like my day job as a photography studio manager because it is around topics (photography, tech, design…)I have always loved and I wear a million hats, so it’s right up my alley, but it is not mine.
I can do more. My insides were exploding with passion and talents and wisdom that I desperately want to shout out to the world and it beat me up for a long time. If only I could figure out ‘my thing’ or ‘my calling’ watch out. Back to the Steve Tomlinson’s TedTalk, the way to find your calling is doing more little things and serve them to the world. One of my favorite things from this whole video was trusting that someone smarter and further down the road will look at your creations and understand what you are trying to communicate or accomplish and open up doors to allow you to do more of what you love. That has been what I’ve been doing once I decided I could not find my calling by listening to 10 podcasts a day or taking hours of Lynda.com classes followed up by a couple of hours of YouTube tutorials, etc.
Find your calling by doing. I started photographing everyday and publishing to Instagram and I enjoyed it. Being a photographer is not what I’m trying to do, but I have always loved the act of taking pictures. I was taking photos of my podcast gear and the tools of the trade as I call them. In my style though which is experimenting with locations, and light and long exposures and time lapses. I am more into figuring how to do things than the final product. My cameras and lenses that I love to use and all the equipment that I love to tinker with and figure out how they work. I love the podcast world because I love audio and microphones and learning how to record iPhones and all the technical stuff behind it. Sure, I like the content, but I more like the behind the scenes and the resources of podcasting. I also like to share my knowledge with others who struggle or do not want to learn the ins and outs of how the Zoom H6 works. Creating and teaching. Combine this two in my unique way.
Learn. Create. Move Forward. is my way of finding my calling and it is working. I still listen and learn to Lynda and podcasts, but much less and it is very intentional as I do not have the time to dedicate to the learning as much as Creating and Moving Forward are more my focus. Creating is moving forward to me. I just keep making little things with my camera or making short videos and animations, and I’m writing a little and I’m learning how to illustrate the gear to turn into tutorials….little creations around the things I love and the things I love to do. I do not know where I will end up, but I do know for certain I am getting better at many things and my confidence in my knowledge and talents is increasing all because I am making things and sharing them. I don’t care about feedback or criticism. I am in self-training and it feels really good and simple.
If you want to find your calling, create little things as often as you can. Like a crazy person, just create something everyday no matter how small or insignificant and as Steve Tomlinson says, the things you love to do start to talk to each other and you begin to see your path. It’s true. It’s happening to me. There is no magic bullet or an answer that some guru sell you in a course, just do little things everyday and the walls will come down. For me, it has started when I decided to launch my podcast with basically no topic which everyone told me I was basically an idiot for doing. You need to know your avatar and target audience and call to actions and pick one niche…BS. You need to start. I saw a great quote on Instagram yesterday, To Begin, begin. You are not trying to find your calling at the approval of others, it is for you. Be selfish in your pursuit of greatness and ignore the ‘protocols’ of online marketing and mastery. Pay attention to the game and learn the fundamentals, but to find your calling, it all starts with the small game. Create something everyday and be patient. I too thought I would swirl around forever searching for ‘my thing’ but the day I decided to just start doing something everyday, my head started eliminating those frustrated voices and I started to find that word that has eluded me most of my working/career life: clarity. What it is I was meant to do and get paid to do.
To begin, begin. Dabble in the things you love to do everyday for one hour or two with no concern for where things will lead, but be sure to listen to yourself as you discover what you are enjoying and by all means if you discover sooner than later how others may benefit or need you, go there. The name of the game remember to your calling is where your passion intersects the needs of others. I’m still working on it, but the pieces are coming together. It all began the day I told myself less learning, more doing. Jump in.
Learn. Create. Move Forward.
My name is Mike Murphy and I am a one man band and podcaster.