Discover What You Are Born to Do

Leadership Excellence

April 24, 2006

by Robert Dickman, Richard Maxwell & Marshall Goldsmith

What were you born to do? How can you find out? Richard Leider, one of America’s premier career counselors, makes a distinction between career and vocation: “Career means work advancement; vocation comes from understanding your gifts and talents and being directed toward a special work — a calling. You have to listen to yourself to hear it.” Richard speaks from 30 years of experience counseling people how to find meaning in life and work.

The author of Repacking Your Bags, he discovered that most people are dissatisfied with their jobs — they sense that they are not living a meaningful life.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

“Every person has a purpose in life,” says Richard. “My work is helping people discover their purpose, then how to live it and lead from it. It’s about seeing the big picture. What is it you were born to do? What is your big purpose? Why are you here?” A common complaint is a sense of being anesthetized. This comes from always making safe and predictable choices. “People feel they are no longer growing. They’ve traded the sensation of life for the security of a pay check.” Richard helps people recover their sense of vitality in three phases:

1. Take a deep look inside yourself. “First I get them to take a deep look at themselves to uncover their purpose, their values, and core philosophies. I help them hold up a mirror so they can sense who they really are now.” Richard asks powerful questions and then pauses and listens. He feels the two questions most important to answer are “What do I want?” and “How will I know when I’ve found it?”

2. Develop a game plan or life map. The map is like a picture. It shows where you are now and where you want to go. It gives you perspective.

3. Apply what you learn. Practice specific exercises that get the results you seek. To evolve to the next step, slow down, step back, look at the big picture, listen, reflect, and catch yourselves in the act of hearing your calling.

To keep vital in your final life phase, you must grow spiritually, and use your wisdom to mentor others. PE

ACTION: Make the last years of your life fulfilling.