The 5 Stages of Connecting to a Life Calling – Stage 3

In keeping with our blog series on the 5 stages of connecting with a calling, let’s discuss stage 3 – The Prepare stage…

The Prepare stage is where you take responsibility to develop into a professional of the services you decide to provide to others.  Doctors, Lawyers, CPAs and a host of other professions have an exam you must pass in order to practice in these professions.  These exams assure the public that the people performing these jobs acquired the education and knowledgeable necessary to do an effective job for you.  As we know, not every job requires us to attain formal knowledge and skills before we can serve the public.  For most of us, we must take this on ourselves.

Acquiring knowledge and skills whether that is through formal education such as a college or university degree or through less formal means such as a training class, certification program or even just reading books related to your field of practice, gives you an edge when it comes to interviewing – but it really is an expression of your commitment to dedicate your life to something you will do – and do well – for others.  It’s your testimony – a demonstration of your promise to help others as best as you can.  It’s important not only for those you serve, but for your own self-esteem and to keep a connecting to a calling.  I often tell my clients who attended high school that there was a time in your life when you knew the pythagorean theorem – but when you stopped attending Geometry class on a regular basis, you probably lost your connection with the theorem.  You can’t stay connected to something you don’t pour effort into learning and practicing consistently.

When we decide on a new career path, we can’t always control the ability to professionally practice it through employment, but we can always control our ability to engage in education and to hang with others in our profession of choice.

Education is one way…

When you are deciding on a profession, it’s always a good idea to consider what’s involved and available to you to acquire and keep your knowledge and skills up to date.  If the thought of the attending courses, conferences, networking events, etc. with other people who also do what you do (or want to do), doesn’t turn you on – then you may be in a job that doesn’t fully enable you to express everything you have to offer to others – in other words, it may not be a job that can sustain your happiness.

Think about that – if you had to attend annual training for your job – like certification acquisition or renewal courses – perhaps even take exams – would that make you say “Ok – if that’s what I have to do -I’ll do it”.  What if you had to attend a 4 year degree program?  What about 11 years of education?  Know your point of tolerance for education – especially formal education.  If it’s limited that’s fine – just don’t pick a profession that offers more formal education, credentials, etc.  You might fall behind your peers and that won’t secure and sustain a connection to a sense of calling.

What if formal education isn’t available for your chosen path?  What if the way to acquire knowledge was by regularly reading books, blogs or newsletters/magazines related to your profession?  What about attending training – even if you have to pay for it yourself?  I am a firm believer that if you haven’t personally invested in your development then you are at risk of demonstrating an insincerity in your commitment to your profession.  Don’t expect employers or others to pay for your development if you won’t pay for it yourself.

Let’s explore how you might feel about hanging out with others in your profession informally such as at charity events (like runs or walks to raise awareness or money), or maybe through a book reading group or bowling league.  Or about how you might feel about more formal ways to hang out with them such as at industry events, committee meetings or through board service if there is a board that governs your profession.  These are examples of  opportunities to meet others in your profession and talk with them about issues affecting your field and about their personal experiences in the profession.  Ask yourself, “Could I hang out with these folks and genuinely enjoy getting to know them and learn from them on my personal time?”

Becoming a mentee is another way…

Another great way to prepare is to become a mentee.  Is there anyone in your chosen profession you can identify as a “celebrity” of that profession?  If so, follow them!  Read their blogs, articles, go see them speak or listen to their podcasts.  Any opportunity you have to meet them or hang out with them – TAKE IT!!!!

Aside from “celebrities”, just be on the lookout for people who seem to love the work and do it well.  This might be someone you work with or someone who is closely accessible to you such as a family member or a friend.  Could you enjoy hanging out with them more regularly to learn from them?

Having one or more mentors is another strong statement of your dedication to your chosen profession.  It’s great to have someone you can ask informal questions, get guidance from about your job or about advancing in your profession – who doesn’t want that?  Well, if you don’t really want that then it may be another sign that you are not in a job that can sustain your happiness.

It’s not too difficult to get a mentor.  Stick with people you know who are willing to have chats with you about your work or the profession you share.  Invite them for coffee or a drink and only take a few minutes of their time for career related stuff – get to know them as well – form a personal bond.  You don’t have to formally ask them “will you be my mentor?”

Part of the trick of having great mentors is shifting your mindset away from the idea that having a mentor is only valid if you pinned each other at a ceremony or something.  Mentors are all around you – keep your mind open to learning from everyone who crosses your path and keep your criteria for identifying people in your profession you will spend extra time with simple.  I tell my clients that if another appears to you to be happy with their work, good at it and “successful” (whatever success means to you), they are viable mentor candidates.  The other aspect of a good mentor is in their willingness to spend time with you and to openly and honestly chat about the work you share.  This doesn’t mean gossiping about the boss – it means things like:

  • getting insight into how they do what they do
  • knowing their story about how they got into this work and got their jobs
  • understanding their thinking – ask them to “think out loud” with you
  • knowing their past or current challenges and how they navigated them
  • getting to know who they know and respect

When you are a mentee, your job is to:

  • pursue the time to talk with your mentors
  • thank them and show appreciation often for their time and authenticity
  • reciprocate all the things you are getting from them

When you get to the top of your profession, you will want to connect with the “up and comers” – be your mentor’s “up and comer” who will keep their image and contributions to the profession relevant and respectable in the eyes of your fellow newbie peers.  That’s how rock n roll royalty does it – they collaborate in some way with new or younger, hot performers – think of Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson or Madonna and Brittany Spears.

In summary, the prepare phase is all about formally and informally acquiring knowledge and skills so that you can be your best for those you chose to serve.

About Gina Calvano

Gina Calvano is a certified coach and Senior Professional in Human Resources, with over 20 years of experience as a talent management professional in both the private and non-profit sectors. With a unique approach, she combines her strategic corporate expertise and accreditations with metaphysics and transformational thinking which has resulted in people all over the world feeling good about themselves and connected to a sense of purpose.

She created the Success Readiness Bootcamp™, a step by step process that enables people to easily discover their unique talents and abilities and match them to majors, jobs, industries and leisure pursuits. Gina is also the co-author of Breakthrough! Inspirational Strategies for an Audaciously Authentic Life with NY Times Best Selling Authors Marci Shimoff, Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Attwood and Powerful Connections Made Easy™ with Aprille Trupiano, and is currently working on her next book — Caged in My Cube: The Turnaround Guide For Loving The Job You Hate.

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