What’s YOUR Calling?

My friend Jenny Buckand I were sitting in folding chairs, crammed in between the rows of shelves in the back of Magers & Quinn Bookstore last Thursday night to hear our friend and author, Jon Odell read from his new book, The Healing.  We were crammed between the self-help books and some kind of design book, which Jenny promptly announced “Oh, I need to learn this..” and started flipping through the pages.

There are two parts of this paragraph that really matter:

The main character in the book & Jenny Buck.

The main character profession is midwifery.  Now that’s a cool word. Isn’t it?


But, Pollyshine, the main character, didn’t have a formal education. She was a slave, in the south, on a plantation. She had a “Calling.”  Well, that’s what Jon said, and since he wrote that book I believe him. (It’s a good read, buy the book.)

A calling?

Those two words stuck with me through the entire reading.

Afterwards, Jenny and I were chatting about life at a tiny table in the restaurant next door and this is how the conversation went:

“Why is it that the only people who are ‘called’ to their profession are pastors?” Animated me, almost clipping the nice lady eating her dinner next to us.

“I have no idea!  You should write a BIG FAT POST on that!” Jenny’s longer arms almost clipping the lady’s husband next to her.

“I think I will!” And I knocked a few things off the table with sweeping arms.

So here it is: The BIG FAT POST on CALLING!

When I’m trying to understand something new I look up the definition.  I find it creates a shared understanding of a word, especially if I’m going to be talking with someone else about the topic.  So, of course I looked up the word calling and here’s what I found:

  1. It’s a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influcence.
  2. The vocation or profession in which one customarily engages
  3. The characteristic cry of a female cat in heat.

Well, number 3 surprised me a bit, so I’ll just leave that one for you to ponder~

I pulled the first definition apart and got definitions for those words. Just to get more clarity.  Here’s what I found:

Strong: clear and loud

Inner: relating to the mind or spirit

Impulse: to force or drive forward

Action: the process of doing

Conviction: a fixed or strong belief

Divine: supremely good or beautiful

No WONDER only the clergy get called!  That’s a p-r-e-t-t-y intimindating list of words.  So, I started googling passion, how to find your passion and watching 2 minute videos of person after person going on about “How to find your passion.”…like it’s something you go to a store and buy! As if it is OUTSIDE of you.  Well, have I got some news for you.


Passion isn’t the thing you do.  It’s who you are.


Don’t believe me? Well, here are some live example from TED2012 that happened last week. Thank you Matt Hunt for your generosity and sharing some TED time with me.


Bryan Stevenson

He is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based group.  My favorite quote was “The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth, it’s justice.”

This man is an amazing story teller…and his passion is NOT in the powerpoint slides, it’s in his story, which comes from his heart.


Passion’s not a thing you do. It’s who you are.


Susan Cain

She’s a former corporate lawyer.  She is also an introvert, who has written a book, Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.  Susan is challenging the staus quo and leading a “Quiet Revolution” with a strong belief and conviction.  You can hear it in her voice.


Passion’s not the thing you do. It’s who you are.


Tyler Wilson

He’s 17 and he’s a nuclear physicist.  Seriously.  This kid got clear pretty early, what interested him, and just keeps doing it.  He built a nuclear reaction when he was 14.  Yep, kids will help change this world.


Passion’s not the thing you do. It’s who you are.


Sure, these people are on TED, which is a high bar. I imagine you’re thinking. Of course they are passionate.  That’s why they are on TED.  And I would say to you….


Passion’s not the thing you do.  It’s who you are.  

I believe it’s like a small flame, inside you, that just needs a little oxygen to make so it can grow.  I like the way Julia Child said it best:

Find something you’re passionate about, and keep tremendously interested in it.







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2 Responses to What’s YOUR Calling?

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Preach it, Missy – AMEN!!

  2. Beth S says:

    Oh Missy, this is your best one yet!!! The idea that “passion is who you are” really resonates, especially in times like these. Thanks for the shot of inspiration today!

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