Aligning to your Inner Calling
I’ve had the privilege of meeting a number of wonderful female and male leaders this week through various connections. What strikes me more and more about the work I do is that as we progress through our life’s journey, the more we are called to do work of a higher purpose. Aligning to your bigger calling may sound somewhat woo woo, but there are many reasons why it is so important and many different approaches to getting there.
Don’t get me wrong, having a solid career with a clear technical expertise is tremendously important. Understanding our strengths, building our knowledge and our experience provides us with certainty and courage to keep pushing forwards. It also gives us confidence. Being recognised for our particular skills, being validated for delivery of targets and being invited to participate in initiatives are all part of the rich tapestry of our career journey.
And yet, as I continually uncover, there is a sixth sense, an intuitive pull so many leaders find they are experiencing. It’s an instinct that informs us that there is something more, something else that we need to embrace. We often confuse it with a need to work harder. Perhaps we haven’t quite delivered everything to the exceptional standard we have set for ourselves. Often, we put our hand up to take on more. We start burning the candle at both ends. Our needs, yes, that’s the stuff we must have to be the best version of ourselves, end up at the bottom of the list. And, sometimes, this spills into our home lives too. We become irritable, guilty and frustrated.
The truth is that many leaders end up in overwhelm. We simply run out of time in the day to deliver everything we are being asked to do. And when overwhelm takes its grip we are on the slippery slope towards physical illness. Physical symptoms are often one of the last resorts our bodies have to tell us to STOP! To tell us to reconsider. To inform us that we our out of alignment.
One of the leaders I met this week was an amazing woman. We’d not met before, but had connected through the female leadership research I’m embarking on. Despite an outward appearance of success, drive and strong interpersonal skills, she was feeling ‘empty’. She’s achieved many ‘ticks’ in her career that she set out over 20 years ago. She simply didn’t know in what direction to turn. And whilst she was starting to think about redoing her CV and connecting with head-hunters, in truth her intuition is calling her to align to her bigger calling, a bigger and more impactful role in society. Changing job to do something similar but in a different environment is not the answer.
The Importance of Aligning
A belief I hold to be true in this world is that we have all been given unique gifts, talents and ‘brilliance’. There are certain things we have been uniquely given and placed to do. When we work in this space, we find that time flows effortlessly. We seem to do more in our day than we used to do in a week. We are so much more at peace with ourselves and those we interact with. Life no longer seems such a struggle!
Even more powerfully, once we find that inner peace, we are then drawn to make an even bigger contribution to the world. We get out of our own way.
I met two amazing male leaders this week as well. The organisation they work for is global and employs thousands of people. Both leaders were very driven to building a business that brings some of the best talent to their workplace. At all levels. Their passion for creating a business where everyone flourishes was incredibly motivating to hear. They are both avid networkers. Both seeking knowledge and learning and giving back through an enormous range of initiatives and external bodies. They appeared to be single focused in their mission and determined to make it happen. But, what was equally powerful, was that they were humble too – recognising that they did not have the answers, that they were keen to collaborate with others and bring a spirit of best practice to the region.
Another client of mine is going through a huge transformation right now. A realisation that life and work are irretrievably interlinked. That the tough, demand driven, results focus is taking its toll. A deep desire to press pause, rethink direction, a focus on truly living from core values. To have a much bigger, deeper contribution in the world that plays to strengths and provides legacy. It’s both beautiful and humbling to watch. So many opportunities that exist, so much to give to the world, so much potential that is going to truly make a big difference.
What to do?
When we are aligned to our bigger calling, our ego’s step to one side. We are no longer driven by what people think of us, of their opinions, views and comments. We no longer need to be validated by others. But it takes courage, patience and reflection.
It’s a tough journey. Initially. Firstly, hearing the nudges. Listening to your heart and to your gut that you are off track. Secondly, exploring what you could do. Reviewing your values is often a good place to start. Thirdly, finding someone to help. A friend, a family member, a mentor, a coach. Opening up and having a sounding board is a critical part of the journey. The biggest challenge I find leaders have – finding the time and space to do the reflective work needed to uncover what lies within.
What does all this mean for you? Are you aligned with your bigger calling? Have you pressed pause lately to explore what your life is looking like? And who is in your support network? Where are you going to get help and insight? I spent many years trying to figure this all out alone. I thought I was super woman. Seriously! Take a good look at who is helping you a) become the best version of you and b) sorting out what your true calling is.
If you’d like to explore how we may be able to help you with your career, then please reach out. We offer a complimentary strategy call and would love to help you if we can.