I was always a little envious of people who seemed to know where they were going and what they were doing, and what they were meant to do. While I was switching directions from one college major to another, they were taking one step after the other in the same direction. While they had successful careers I was still bumbling along trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. My inability to commit to one career, one direction, one path, made me feel immature.
Then there are all of the famous people who made outstanding careers for themselves; people like the Michael Jordan or Donald Trump or Mother Theresa or Stephen Hawking. They all had distinctive gifts and took them to the limit.
“Why didn’t I get one really big, really special talent?” I asked myself. “Why am I so ordinary? Why am I pulled in so many directions? How am I supposed to know what to do when I have nothing special to offer?
When we compare ourselves to other people we may feel small. Because we feel small we may believe we don’t really have a purpose in life, or at least not one worth pursuing with all of our hearts. We think that what we have to offer is so ordinary that it is not worth much.
I have learned that there is no one born who does not have something special to offer. Just because some of us have highly developed minds or bodies or talents does not mean the rest of us are not special, too. We are mistaking quantity for quality. We think we have to be great or we are nothing at all. But the world’s yardstick cannot measure the value of what we offer.
We do not know God’s plan for this lifetime or have His perspective. We may be here to perform one simple act that will change someone’s life or we may be here to impact millions. One is not “better than” another. That’s why success cannot be defined in material terms.
All of the inner talking that we do within our minds is the activity of the ego – a wily, high effective defense mechanism that developed over the millennia to keep our bodies safe and alive in a dangerous world….
The ego is who we think we are. It shares the intellect’s belief in danger and is always alert to threats. The ego needs to win to feel validated. It is that part of us that feels separate and alone and hence needs to feel special. When the Call to Vocation or Adventure comes, the ego can feel overwhelmed or threatened because it feels a power stronger than itself.
When the Call to Vocation is heard the ego responds with all of the reasons why this is a foolish undertaking, why we can’t do it and shouldn’t even attempt it. It tells us we are not good enough, strong enough, wise enough or brave enough. It tells us this road is too hard, too long, too dangerous. It tells us we will fail, we will not amount to anything, that we will die alone and poor in a dark alley. It cautions us to take the safe, well-lit path that everyone else has taken.
That is just the ego being an ego. Everyone has an ego and all egos have the same purpose – to protect us and keep us alive. It wants us to have a secure, predictable life with a steady paycheck, guaranteed retirement and carefree old age. In the recent past the corporations and collapsing trust and pension funds have shown that this economic security some have been willing to trade their lives for it is illusory at best.
Because the ego likes to be the boss, it will not turn over the reins of decision making easily. It is not necessary to ‘kill’ the ego, deride it or hate it. We can listen to its advice but we don’t have to follow it. What is necessary is to transcend it.
What is really special about each one of us is beyond the range and understanding of the ego. The spirit is too big for the ego to encompass, too wise for it to understand, too courageous for it to trust. The Call of Vocation, the Call to Adventure is the Call of Life asking to be lived fully, deeply, completely.
Except from the Power of Vocation from “Ten Powers: Spiritual Strategies to Transform Your Life & Work” © 2005 Marie Taylor