What-is & Wanted vs. Unwanted: competency versus calling

I sometimes ask clients to list all their competencies—all the skills they’ve acquired over the years. When pushed to brainstorm a little longer and dig a little deeper, most come up with quite a long list.

Then I ask them to put a line through all those they don’t really enjoy doing.

It’s amazing to see how many competencies on their list end up being crossed off.

Which brings these clients to a crossroads of sorts. And maybe you too. A place in life and point in time when you can keep on keeping on—or take a turn and make a change. Maybe even embrace a calling.

Are you at this crossroads of competency versus calling?

You’ve built up expertise and status based on your competencies, but stuck it out for years in a career you don’t really enjoy for the sake of a paycheck you do?

There’s another possibility.

Consider this: You’ve spent your life learning and growing through your experiences.

Now is the time to put that wisdom to work. Not in a theoretical sort of way, but in a real-life, down-to-earth, rubber-hits-the-road kind of way.

It makes me think of a sign hanging in my office that reads:

I laughed when I realized how many years it took to discover who I am…by first zealously exploring…who I am not.

That’s wisdom you owe it to yourself to listen to.

Because often we’re far into adulthood before the first inkling that what we’ve been doing is not what we’re meant to do. And then that inkling turns to tension. Then the struggle begins between competency and calling.

Followed by resistance.

But I’ve spent 20 years working my way up the ladder…
But, but…what about all the time I’ve spent in my current job?

Resistance that fights for the status quo. That suggests because an investment has been made along a certain path, the only course of action is to continue.

But when you’re at the crossroads you have a choice to make.

About your next chapter. About who you really are today and what you really want. Even about your legacy.

There’s freedom in being liberated from the burden of competency and embracing your calling.

Who would you be today if you followed the path of your calling rather than staying rooted in the smaller sphere of your competencies? What would be possible?