AMY PORTERFIELD: Hey there, Amy Porterfield here. Welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. As always, thanks so much for being here. I love that we get to spend this time together.
Today’s topic is very near and dear to my heart. We are talking about finding or discovering your calling, what you were put on this earth to do. If you are one of those lucky soles that has it all figured out, you know why you are here on this earth, you are doing the work you were meant to do, and you get to wake up every morning and dive right into it, well I’m a little bit envious of you.
Hear me out. I love the work I do and I feel like I am really close to figuring that all out. But sometimes I feel it is still a little bit unclear to me. I am not exactly sure if I have figured out why I am put on this earth and what I’m meant to do. Again, I feel I am pretty close to what I am supposed to be doing but sometimes there is that voice inside of me that thinks there might be something different or it might look different way down the road. And that’s okay. I’m open to it.
Whenever a great book comes out that talks about this topic I definitely snatch it up. That’s what happened with the new book, The Art of Work, by my friend, Jeff Goins. Jeff wrote this book and I love it and want you to hear this interview because his book is a real honest in-the-moment take on finding your calling. It’s not huge big pictures and abstract, it’s in the really day-to-day stuff that he helps you discover what your calling is.
He uses beautiful stories of real-life people that have done it. I do so well when someone tells me stories of others because I can relate it back to my own life and I think you are going to enjoy that part of the book.
I will say that in the interview (I already interviewed him and now I am doing the intro) there is one part where I literally say, “If you take one thing away from this interview I want you to just repeat that part that Jeff just said.”
I’m a tease today. I’m not going to give it to you. You’ve got to listen to the interview. But I love this one part of the interview that really spoke to me and I think it will speak to you as well. If you’re not sure what you were put on this earth to do and if you’re not exactly sure you are doing the work you love or if you are positive you are going to a job everyday that you do not love and there is something bigger and better for you out there then listen to this interview. It will give you some insights and some ideas to actually enjoy where you are right now.
I know for some of you that might seem impossible. But believe me, there are little things you can do to actually enjoy where you are while you get to where you want to go. We talk about that in the interview.
I can’t wait for you to dive in. I won’t make you wait any longer. Again, this is an interview I did with Jeff Goins. Jeff is from Nashville, Tennessee, one of my favorite cities on earth. I am a country girl at heart. I love Nashville and he lives there with his wife and adorable little boy. This guy is just brilliant. He is a writer. He is a blogger. He is a speaker. He’s great onstage and is the real deal. He knows this stuff. He studied it. I love that he will even say in the interview that he actually wrote this book and thought, “this isn’t right,” so he had to go back to the drawing board.
I think people that do that have a lot of guts to make sure they don’t put anything out there that they don’t know is stellar. A lot of heart and soul went into this book he wrote and he is going to talk about the concepts here in this interview. Again, I won’t make you wait any longer, let’s go ahead and jump in.
Amy: Jeff, thanks so much for being here with me today. I really appreciate it.
Jeff: Thanks for having me Amy. I’m glad to be with you.
Amy: I think it’s going to be great because I love this topic. This book, in large part, is about finding your calling. To take a little snippet that I read online, “What is a calling? You will hear me use the word interchangeably with the terms vocation and life’s work. But, quite simply, it is the reason you were born.”
I have also heard you say a calling is not necessarily a moment but a lifestyle. Can you help me better understand the process of finding your calling and is it the same as your passion?
Jeff: I don’t think it’s the same as your passion because I think passions change. I think this idea of having a calling, a purpose for your life, is really a lifelong journey of you understanding what you are here for. I don’t think it is something that changes but it will evolve over time.
We all kind of mature and grow and begin to better understand what matters to us and the kind of impact we want to leave. But I like the word calling because I think it goes beyond something you are excited about. I think it goes beyond career aspirations. It is really about the kind of life you want to live and what is ultimately the legacy that you want to leave and how you can start making choices today, including the work you do, that will affect that in the long term.
Amy: Many of the people listening, my audience, have been in a certain career for a long time or a certain area of business. They have a lot of schooling in that area and have put in a lot of time. So, if you had years in a particular career, how do you discern a calling after your track record is fairly well established?
Jeff: I think we all feel like we are missing out on something, that we have wasted a season of our life and have been practicing or preparing for the wrong thing and we have to start all over. People in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s feel this way. They feel their past was in some way a waste.
I just had coffee with one of the women I talk about in the book, Jody Noland, who found her calling at 58 years old. She worked at IBM for 15 years. She was a mom for a decade. She helped her husband with his business for some years. Now she is a speaker, a writer, and teaches workshops helping companies and individuals write letters of appreciation to people they love.
In a company context they are writing employees and taking better care of their colleagues. She is also working with people who write letters to friends and family. All of this came out of a series of very painful experiences for her in which her friend, Larry, was on his death bed dying of cancer. He asked for a pen and paper to write some letters to his daughters.
Larry did die and his daughters to this day cherish those letters. She saw this and it impacted her deeply. So, when her husband got sick and was dying of cancer as well, sadly she pleaded with him to write letters to his daughters. He refused. She begged him and nagged him. He would not do it.
After the funeral, her stepdaughter, his daughter, came up to Jody and asked if her dad wrote her a letter. It broke her heart, as you can imagine. She was full of grief. This was about six years ago when her husband died and now she is doing this work that, in some ways, is redeeming this personal pain she has felt.
She has seen both sides of the pain. She has seen the discrepancy between people who affirm their loved ones and those that miss out on that opportunity. She wants to make sure nobody misses out.
What Jody would say, Amy, to give you a long answer to a short question, is that nothing is wasted. I asked her if working for IBM for 15 years was wasted. She did employee care during that time. She would do employee evaluations and instead of asking what you have done for me lately she would affirm the person. She learned she has a natural gift for empathy and she learned how to affirm people through that experience and now she is using that gift of affirmation in a completely different context and she feels everything has been leading up to this moment.
Jody would say your past is preparing you for what is to come. You can use everything as an apprenticeship for what is coming next. I call this listening to your life. That is a term I borrowed from a guy named Frederick Buechner. Pay attention to the things that you’ve done, the passions you have had, the failures you’ve experienced. All of those can help you figure out where you are going next and what the larger purpose is in your life.
I don’t think the past dictates the future but it should inform it.
Amy: So true. So you did interview a lot of people for this book. I was actually going to ask you to tell me one of the stories so I am glad you actually brought Jody Noland’s story up. I love that story because it just proves that you never know where life will take you.
I don’t know if you got into this a lot but I have noticed that when people want to make a big shift in their life, when they have been at one thing a long time and they want to try something else and they have a deep feeling that something else is calling them, having a support system in your life has to be a big deal.
I have told this story before but my husband, when he was 38 years old, decided he wanted to quit his career where he had his own business as a general contractor and become a firefighter. At 38 years old in California it is kind of ridiculous that you think you want to become a firefighter because everyone going for it is about 20 years old.
So he went for this and he did an amazing job. He is now a firefighter and he couldn’t be happier. But one thing I notice when I talk to him and ask what made him think he could do it, he says he had people in his life that would support him along the way.
Did that come out in these stories? Did you hear stuff about that?
Jeff: Absolutely. I think every story of success is really a story of community. This idea of a self-made man or woman is just not true. Amy, you and I know this better than a lot of people, I think, because our world of on-line marketing is all based off of relationship. It is all based off of trust, building a relationship with your customers and readers and audience and building relationships with other people you can partner with and connect with.
I would not be where I am, I won’t speak for you, but I would not be here even having this interview with you if it weren’t for all of the relationships in my life that even got us to the point of having this conversation. I think when we think we bootstrap our way to success when we do it all on our own we are deceiving ourselves and are also doing a disservice to other people who have a dream to chase because you are setting them up for disappointment.
We never succeed on our own. We shouldn’t want to. I have run a few half marathons in my life and the ones I ran with friends and with people at the finish line to celebrate the experience with together were way more fun than the ones I ran alone.
Amy: Yes! It makes perfect sense. I will say that I am sure you can relate too, there are times in our lives where we are surrounded by people and there are maybe one or two that actually make us feel like we can’t do it, like we can’t move forward, like this is a crazy idea.
Those people are just as important in the journey as the people who are cheering us on along the way because they give us that weird “wait a second, yes I can,” confidence that comes out of nowhere when someone challenges us that we can’t do it.
I guess I bring that up because if you are in a situation right now where you desperately want to change your life and do something different and you know something is calling you but the people in your life are not supporting you, maybe it’s time to start looking at using those people as a stepping stone to get that confidence you need to move forward anyway and then going to find your tribe out there that is going to cheer you on. There are people out there that will cheer you to that finish line, kind of like you said with the marathon.
I just think community is so important. And sometimes I say that because people don’t have that community like others. You’ve got to go out and actively find it.
Jeff: I absolutely agree. I lived in this city that I didn’t even realize was a really cool place with all of these people in technology and the publishing world and music. I am a creative person, I’m a writer. I like to write and am a blogger. I was working as a marketing director for a nonprofit. I wanted to change my life. I was one of those people who had one job and it was a good job. I kind of felt guilty for not loving it. But I wanted something else.
I wanted to be a writer and wanted to speak and write books. I wanted to start a blog or something. I didn’t completely know exactly what I wanted to do but I knew there was something out there and I was missing out on it. For years I would sit on my laptop on my couch and watch people on Twitter or Facebook or whatever, people who lived in Nashville, the city I have lived in for the past eight years, and think it would be great to be like them. It would be great to be like Michael Hyatt or somebody.
Then one day I just kind of woke up and realized these people are a stone’s throw away. What is stopping me from trying to connect with them and grab coffee with them. I realized all of these people I admired and watched from afar (kind of envied, frankly) all knew each other. For real, in person!
They weren’t just connected on the internet. I think that is something we believe. We believe you don’t actually connect in person with the people you call your “friends” because you just know them on Twitter or something. That’s absolutely not true. The more and more I understand the principles of success and what it takes to achieve a dream and what it takes to make it, it always takes community.
So when I saw all of these people actually having dinner together and coffee and that they knew each other offline I realized I had it backwards. I thought when you connect with online people it can lead to offline relationships.
I think that happens sometimes. It is happening more and more in our world now but I think the best way to connect with somebody and the best way to build community is really offline. I think an offline relationship tends to strengthen online connections. Certainly, in writing The Art of Work I found story after story of people that looked like they did it alone and then when I dug a little deeper realize even when people were naysaying and telling them they couldn’t do it there were people that came alongside you at just the right time to encourage you along the way.
I think it’s really on us to recognize those people. Like I said, I sat on my couch and lived in Nashville for years wondering when my big break was going to come not realizing that it was staring me right in the face, I just had to get off my couch and go connect with those people.
Amy: What a concept, right? I love it.
Jeff: Yeah, novel.
Amy: This is a loaded question but what you just said is leading me to really want to hear what you have to say about how somebody gets started if they know they are meant for bigger things, if they know they were put on this earth for something different than they are doing now. What do they do to even start that journey, to get started in finding their calling?
Jeff: I wrote this book to kind of describe my journey of going from working a traditional job to becoming a full-time author, blogger, entrepreneur. It started out as a go-do-these-five-things kind of book and it didn’t feel honest to me. As you mentioned, I interviewed hundreds of people and I wrote this book. I scrapped it. I didn’t like it. And then I went back and found all of the stories and then began to identify common themes in all of the stories.
When I understood those stories better I began to understand my own story a little better. It was a really cool journey. I share that because I learned some important lessons that kind of debunked myths that I had believed about chasing a dream and even believed them afterwards for a while. Like, you can do it all on your own, it’s just one thing, you have to create a plan and go after it.
I don’t think those things are true. They aren’t completely true. You don’t do it completely on your own. You need community. It’s not just one thing, it’s a few things and it’s okay to not know. Most of the time I don’t know.
We think you need to get clear about what you want to do but I think clarity comes with action. It’s going to take a community of people and you will learn things as you go and it’s certainly going to take practice.
How do you begin that process? I think the best thing I learned, and I had to kind of relearn it because I went through this journey. Sometimes when you see somebody succeed they sanitize their story. They go through all this difficult stuff and they are confused and they make mistakes and then they look back years later and they go, “Oh yeah, it was easy. I just did these seven things and if you do these seven things it will work for you too.”
We don’t live our lives like that Amy. I’m not on step 6½ right now. I’m rushing from one thing to the next and I have a headache because I haven’t drank enough coffee this morning. I’m in the middle of the mess and this is where we live our lives.
When I rewrote the book I wanted to speak to that messy middle we all find ourselves in and I think the most important thing you could do in terms of starting, especially if you are in the place where you feel you are not in an ideal situation or circumstance, don’t waste your byproduct.
What I mean by that is if you have been working ten years in customer service don’t assume that was a waste. You can use your background. I’m not saying you have to be customer service for the next 15 to 20 years if that’s not what you want to do. But there is something in that that you have been practicing. There is some lesson you can learn from that. And you can be more intentional about it.
A lot of times we just get so overwhelmed. We have 18 passions and 27 things we can do but we don’t know where to start. But when you start listening to your life as Jody Noland did your options start to narrow down in a good way.
Again, your past doesn’t dictate your future but it should inform it. You should look at your life, listen to it, and begin to understand what you really love doing.
In my case, I have never been good at math. So my dream should probably not be to be an accountant. That would be a bit of a delusional dream for me. What I’ve always loved doing is writing. I have always loved words. I have always loved creativity.
When I began to understand what my life was trying to tell me it made a lot more sense and it brought a lot more clarity and I love this quote by Parker Palmer which really epitomizes this idea, “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it (which is a very American-Western thing to do; here’s my life, I am going to have a plan) I have to listen to my life telling me who I am.”
I think that activity always follows identity. Before you can do something you really have to get a sense of who you are and that’s not some passive thing. As I said, that means being off the couch, connecting with people, going through the process of figuring out what you have always been good at. What are you practicing right now that you don’t even recognize.
That will give you a sense of what’s next. This is really trite, but the other thing I would say is you just need to get started. Most of us are waiting to just know what we are supposed to do. You won’t just know.
That was the surprising thing I found in interviewing all of these people who are doing meaningful, remarkable work. I would ask if they knew they wanted to do “this” when they were a kid. They all answered, “No, I didn’t. I had no idea.”
Did you know you were going to do this five years ago? They would answer that they didn’t, it was a surprising journey. But now that they are here they can look back and understand all of it makes sense as it was all preparing them for what they are doing.
That’s an intentional conscious process. It is not something that will happen accidentally. You have to be really purposeful about that, and flexible, as life throws things at you as it happens with all of us, to take those things and make the most of them.
Amy: Okay, so this is so good. Guys, if you take one thing away from Jeff’s interview today, the thing I really want you to say over and over again if you are struggling with this concept of finding your calling or what you are put on this earth to do, listen to what your life is trying to tell you.
To me that’s huge. I never really thought of it that way. But that is so powerful. What is your life trying to tell you. Also, what I got from everything you just said, Jeff, was start where you stand. Whatever is happening right now is going to give you clues as to what you want to try or take action or experiment with.
That kind of leads me to the question that came up as you were explaining this concept of how to get started; that is, a lot of people listening are still in a day job. They are going to a job they don’t like. They desperately want to break away.
A lot of my audience want to be solo entrepreneurs doing their own thing with no boss. But there is still a day job involved. For those people, in your book you talk a lot about being able to actually want to do something versus having to do it even though it might not be the perfect situation at the moment. Can you kind of shed some light on that?
Jeff: There is a study I read not too long ago that said 87% of the world’s workers are disengaged with their jobs. They either absolutely hate their job or they are indifferent about it and are punching the clock and work is a means to make a living but is certainly not a way to make a life.
I think that’s a problem. I think that’s not good that 87% of people in a job in the world are not in love with their jobs which means they are not doing great work. I think work is a means of making an impact on the world and if you do that you are going to create value and are going to get paid. You talk about that really well, Amy. I think that’s a problem.
Two things need to happen and they involve this word I love, “pivot.” One or two things need to happen in your life. Either you need to do an external pivot where you change directions. Instead of going in one direction towards your pension and staying with a company for the next 25 years you need to pivot and go in a completely different direction and maybe start moving toward doing your own thing or working somewhere else.
Or, it’s an internal pivot. I would suggest this one, no matter what ends up happening with your current situation. I’m not going to say don’t quit your job because that’s exactly what I did and it was great. My pivot took years. It took time to make that transition. I don’t think it has to take years.
But if you are really going to move the direction of your life’s purpose it may not happen overnight. And that’s okay. If you do the internal pivot first, a pivot going from “I hate my job, this thing sucks. If only I could have some great gig come along.” The reality is if you make the external pivot and quit your job or go to something else and you don’t make the internal pivot from work as a means of serving yourself and making a bunch of money or providing for yourself so you can do the things you really want to do; if you can’t pivot away from that to working as a means of making an impact, no matter what you do it’s ultimately going to feel like drudge work because it’s not satisfying.
There is a really fascinating psychology about this. Viktor Frankl talks about this. It’s not satisfying to serve yourself with the work you do. We are our happiest when we are doing something that is a part of a greater whole, when we are working on a project that is serving other people.
If you can’t make that internal pivot, even in a day job that you may not like, and try to see some good in it, it doesn’t matter if you make the external pivot and find your dream job. It is still eventually going to become drudge work.
I would say make the internal pivot first and then definitely start taking steps to make that external pivot towards your life’s work.
Amy: I love the idea of the pivot. With me, when I worked at corporate I wanted to leave so bad to start my own thing but, quite honestly, I didn’t even know what I was going to start so I was kind of a mess in the beginning.
I actually had a good mentor that encouraged me to stay on with the Tony Robbins companies for another year. I didn’t want to do it but she said if I was going to do it I had to go pro and show up and do it right. But one of my internal pivots was that I asked to be moved to a different department.
I was in the creative department. We developed content. I wanted something different and I wanted to learn how to launch products because I wanted to eventually leave to do my own programs. So I asked to move into the marketing department.
I was scared. It was a big deal for me to put myself out there. I thought they would think I was ridiculous and they would say, “you don’t know marketing like we do” and that kind of thing. But they embraced it because they knew I had something to offer and I positioned myself well.
I say this because that internal pivot might just be doing something a little different where you are at right now. And I learned so much that I am so glad that I stayed that final year so I could take it into my own business. There are opportunities there that people might not be thinking of yet.
Jeff: I think that is great advice, Amy. I just thought of this, I did the same thing. When I got the idea that I wanted to be a writer I moved from being a marketing director, which I loved, to becoming a communications director leading a team of writers, creating content for our non-profit organization. The content was used by the marketing team but I started as a copywriter. Seven years later I was marketing director and was spending too much time managing creatives, managing advertising campaigns, email campaigns.
That was great stuff and I use all of those skills now. But I wasn’t writing as much and I really wanted to get back into writing. So I went to my boss and told him I wanted to be writing more. I told him I had built the marketing team for him and we could probably bring someone in to replace me. I wanted to make an internal pivot toward something else.
In the back of my mind I was thinking if I was eventually going to do that full time I could start practicing now instead of just waiting. I think most of us are sitting at our desks twiddling our thumbs waiting for our big opportunity to come. As I have already shared, it’s probably staring you in the face, you just have to change something about your perspective or something small about your situation that could ultimately make a big picture difference.
Making that internal pivot, as you did, and I didn’t even think about it so thanks for reminding me of that, made a huge difference.
Amy: It’s huge.
Jeff: You do have control. You have some control over your situation right now. So as you get an idea of what you might want to do try, use your current situation to practice for what’s to come. I don’t think you will regret it.
Amy: I don’t either. There are so many opportunities there. And while you are making that internal pivot you can always carve out time in the morning or in the evenings or at lunch to work on that side project that will one day become your business. That’s so exciting to do. And it keeps you moving forward and keeps your eye on the prize.
I really want to encourage people to think about those internal pivots if you feel stuck. They really are there and really are available to you.
Jeff, I want to thank you so much for being here. I want to tell you that people are listening right now from their cars, at the gym, maybe commuting to that job they don’t necessarily love and cannot wait to move away from. I want them to get your book. I think this book can be a huge, huge life changer when you start looking at the possibilities of creating the life by your own design that you absolutely love.
Tell us where people can learn more about your brand new book.
Jeff: Go to artofworkbook.com and you will see where you can buy it. You can buy it at all of the major retailers. If you go there or buy it from Amazon or something you can just submit your receipt number and you will get a bunch of bonuses including a freebie from me talking about these mindset shifts, some of which we have talked about here, that you need to go through to really find your calling and begin to do meaningful work. You will find out more about that at artofworkbook.com.
Amy: We always love when there are extra goodies involved. I appreciate that. Guys, go check it out. You can get those bonuses as well. Jeff put his heart and soul into this book. There is no doubt about it. I would never steer you wrong so check out artofworkbook.com.
Jeff, thanks again for being here. Truly appreciate it.
Jeff: It is totally my pleasure. Thank you Amy.
Amy: So there you have it. Hopefully you have found some little snippets in there that will help you move forward to finding the reason why you were put on this earth. I know that sounds dramatic but I think it is very, very important that we think of it in terms of why we are here and what we were put on this earth to do.
We all have that special gift. My good friend, Marie Forleo, always says, “you have that special gift that only you can offer.” You’ve got to get it out into the world. And I do
believe that. I hope you feel inspired and excited and if you’re in that day job maybe look for those pivots that you can take advantage of new opportunities.
I didn’t create a special giveaway for this episode like I normally have been doing because I really do want you to go check out artofworkbook.com and get the bonuses that come along once you purchase the book. I think that is definitely a great freebie. Those bonuses are a great freebie to offer to this episode because they are really valuable and Jeff takes his work very seriously so you will get top notch training and knowledge for free in those bonuses. Go check it out.
Thank you so much for being with me here today. You can also check out the show notes for this episode at http://www.amyporterfield.com/53. I can’t wait to connect with you again soon. I’ll talk to you again next week. Take care.