The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one’s destiny to do, and then do it.”― Henry Ford

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Find Your Calling, Element, or Sweet Spot

Your journey to greatness begins when you discover what your calling is, and take the first step toward fulfilling that calling.

If you want to achieve greatness, it starts with finding your purpose, your calling, your element, or your sweet spot. It’s only when you find what drives you, what you were created to do, that you start shining.

I’ve spent the last decade interested and researching greatness and what it takes to become great. I do this because I want to feed my soul the food that great people eat so that if I am fortunate, I too may someday rest among the great. I do it because there is a fire in my bones, a passion, to study greatness and to teach it to my children and to the world.

Design defines destiny. Form follows function

In this short article, I share with you my findings expressed in the form of a mnemonic I’ve created called, D.E.S.I.G.N. This mnemonic is especially fitting because the key to finding our calling is understanding our design. It starts with self-awareness and self-evaluation to discover what endowments and talents we have been given. Calling is both something you discover and something you choose.

Related Article: Finding Your Passion is Like Choosing a Spouse

What is your DESIGN?

I’ve found out that to find your design, you look at the following six areas.

Dreams and Passions

Dreams

The power of imagination

“The life God has for you is in your imagination.” –Steve Harvey

Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”— Albert Einstein

Your calling is in your dreams. Look there.

Related Article: Faith is vision.

Passions

What do you really love to do?

“Tell me what you like and I’ll tell you who you are.” John Ruskin

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied.” John Piper.

Passion is something that we love to do, something that brings us satisfaction.

Are you one of the millions of people of faith around the world who have shied away from pursuing their passion because they are afraid that doing something they love may cause them to stray outside God’s will? I’ve seen John Piper’s words above bring freedom to many people like you. I’ve included that quote to inspire you to realize that you can pursue your purpose. In fact, according to Piper, your God actually wants you to pursue your passions because “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him.” Whether you are a person of faith or not, the best way to live a life of satisfaction is to live in your purpose and do something that you are passionate about on a daily basis.

Your life-giving passions are a strong indication of your sweet spot.

Experiences

“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” Soren Kierkegaard

Each of us is a story. Looking at our experiences gives us an opportunity to look backward and write our own life story, as far back in our ancestral line as we can. For me, it goes to my father. For others, it may go further than that. For some who may not even know their father or mother, it begins with their earliest memories or stories they learn about them when they were babies.

I believe that there are no coincidences.

If you want to know where a person is going, look at where they are coming from. Our past doesn’t determine our future. It always has clues about our future. Life is a journey. When we look at the past, we get a hint of the future. Look at your life’s story. Especially look at the pleasurable events, the painful events, and engagements we have made in the past. The hurts we go through in life never go in vain. The things we’ve enjoyed in the past also have a lot to teach us about what we will enjoy in the future. Our past engagements also tell us something about our design.

God never wastes a hurt” Rick Warren

Our pain often helps us see our purpose in life
Many people who were abused as children devote their lives to making sure others aren’t abused.
Many people who experience marriage struggles and overcame them have devoted themselves to helping others create healthy marriages.
Many people have become lawyers or advocates of justice that devote themselves to helping others find justice because they themselves experience cruel injustice and they want to make sure no one suffers the same fate.
Many people become doctors because of an experience with illness either by themselves or by a loved one that left a mark on them.
Many people become teachers because they experienced they kindness and excellence of a teacher who left a mark on them as a child.
Many cancer survivors have devoted their lives to starting foundations that help others beat cancer or at least deal with it with dignity.
Actor Michael J. Fox’s experience with Parkinson led him to found a Parkison’s foundation that is working to find the cure. Today, his organization is the largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s research in the world.
I started an orphan care organization because I grew up suffering as a child and I wanted to help others with that faith.
My desire to become a doctor was strengthened by experiences I had as a child seeing my father and my grandmother suffer and die from illnesses.

Pleasure is also as powerful
Many people have become accomplished musicians because their love for music was discovered when they were merely children.
Many people have pursued their love for sports to have great careers in sports.
Many people have pursued their love for the STEM subjects to lead amazing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Tiger Woods started playing tennis as a child.
The Williams sisters (Venus and Serena) started playing tennis as children.

Reading your life backward and paying attention to pains, pleasures, and engagements will open our minds to see how our DESIGN has guided us in the past, even without our knowledge.

As we take an inventory of our life experiences and write down our story, it’s crucial to query how we have met our 7 fundamental human needs in the past.

Related Article: The 7 Fundamental Human Needs

Another important way to look at our experiences is to view them in terms of the 4 dimensions of the human being (soul). 

Spirituality and Values

“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man!” Albert Einstein

Spirituality
An AAFP piece described spirituality nicely. It said, “Spirituality is the way you find meaning, hope, comfort, and inner peace in your life. Many people find spirituality through religion. Some people find it through music, art, or a connection with nature. Others find it in their values and principles.”

Leadership expert, Simon Sinek wrote a book titled, Start with why: How great leaders inspire others to action. He also gave a TED talk on the subject that has become one of the most popular TED talks of all time. Sinek uses the examples of Martin Luther King Jr, the Wright brothers, and Apple to show that great leaders inspire action by starting with why.

While the rest of the DESIGN acronym helps guide you to find “what” you should do with your life and “how” you should do it, only spirituality has the power to give you a “why”. Even if you don’t know it, everybody has some level of spirituality. Out of our spirituality comes our values, sense of meaning, and purpose. All these are crucial to finding our individual calling.

Values
What are your values? What is important to you?

Individuality

Individuality refers to the things that make someone different from all others. In other words, individuality is the sum of the qualities or characteristics that distinguish one person from others. It’s our uniqueness; the things that make us unique. Our individuality sets us apart from others. It includes our self-identity, our personality, and any other quality or characteristic that makes us unique.

Self-identity
Related article: The difference between social identity and self-identity.

Personality
Self-discovery of your own personality opens your eyes to see roles/relationships, and settings (soil) and topics in which you will thrive. This is what I call your RST. It is often helpful to take personality tests like the Myers-Briggs and DiSC to help you begin to figure out this aspect of your uniqueness. It may sound daunting at first, but it will give you great pleasure as you understand your design and begin to understand the design of others around you. Work will never be the same again.

Gifts and Talents

“A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.” King Solomon

Your gifts are your gift to the world.

Related Article: Your Strengths Will Open Doors For You

What are your gifts and talents? What things do you excel at with relatively more ease than others around you?

Needs of the world

“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” Aristotle

Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need”― Frederick Buechner

The needs of the world provide opportunities to live out our calling. The key is choosing a need that fits our design, who we are.

Needs of the world are central to our calling

All of us are called to be servants. What we have to figure out is what service opportunities we will thrive in. As such, it helps to have an inventory of the needs in the world around you. For many people, globalization has made the whole world your neighborhood and everyone in the world your neighbor. So your calling may be farther from your home than it might have been for generations past.

When asked about how one might go about finding their calling, a pragmatic colleague once said, “The first thing to consider is the needs of the world. The single strongest indicator of your calling is probably your awareness of what needs to get done to make the world more like it should be. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to tackle a huge global problem. It simply means anything in the world that needs to get done.Considerations such as earning a living to support yourself and your family are a necessary part of the equation. It’s not smart to get a job serving and meeting the needs of orphans only to neglect your own children.”

I agree wholeheartedly! I think the first 5 aspects of our DESIGN prepare and point us towards the last one, which is the needs of the world.

Purpose or calling bias

Ask yourself, “What needs do I see in the world around me as most pressing?” In your biased, non-scientific opinion, what is the “world’s greatest need”?

What inventions does the world need the most?

We often see the world through the lenses of our calling and what I have observed is that we tend to have a healthy bias toward what we are called to do. A person with a calling to care for the poor is likely to see that as the world’s greatest and most urgent need. Their heart is moved to meet that need above all other needs. Other needs, which may be just as great and urgent don’t pull the same strings on their heart.

Someone who is called to cook may complain about the current diet. He may say someone needs to do something about it otherwise people will be hurt.

Have you ever worked in an organization or under a leadership an get frustrated because “everything just seems to be done wrong”? Many of the mistakes that are being made are so obvious to you. You can see the solution from afar but people won’t listen to you. Maybe you are in a church or synagogue and you see things are just handled “wrongly”. You caution yourself not to be a know-it-all, to be humble, but the truth of the matter is that you are not being immature. Things could really be done better and you have the ability to see a better way much easier than others do. Sometimes you may try to help, but they won’t let you.

Many great inventions and innovations have happened when talented people have been in this kind of situation and the opposition from the status quo has caused them to leave, go and start organizations that have done amazing things.

This ability to see needs or solutions that others don’t see quite as easily is often a silent revelation of our talents and an indication of our calling. I call it the purpose or calling bias.

The fact that we are uniquely designed obviously means that we have unique needs. Each of us has 7 fundamental human needs. Our needs are part of our design and they are fulfilled when we serve within our sweet spot. Yet, to find our calling, we don’t focus on our needs. We focus on the needs of others in the world around us. In addition to that, I think it’s as if there are certain needs in the world that have our names written on them. These needs seem to be beckoning us to come. The truth is that as we meet these needs in others, our own needs become met. Our calling is found in meeting the needs of others. We are called to serve others, not ourselves.

Related article: The 7 Fundamental human needs.

It’s powerful to realize that needs are part of our design. Our 7 fundamental human needs and the needs of others are part of who we are. Our needs are met as we meet the needs of others in the world. Just as hunger causes us to seek food, our own needs are designed to cause us to look for needs in the world to meet. Their needs are the solution to our needs! That’s a powerful concept to grasp. Our needs aren’t there to cause us to look for charity or help from others. Our needs are a reminder that we need to serve others because by serving others, our needs become met.

Our DESIGN comes from both our genes and our environment

You are a work in progress. We all are. Our DESIGN comes from both our genes and our environment. To use a common scientific expression, our DESIGN comes from both nature and nurture. Nature refers to our genes and nurture refers to the environment we grow up in, which determines the experiences we have. For example, we know that your disposition or personality is determined by both genetic and environmental influences during your childhood years. Interests and passions change with time and experience. The things you are interested in change over time.

Your talents are innate or natural. You were born with them. However, your experiences and education provide knowledge and skills that can sharpen your talents and gifts.

Related Article: Talent vs. Skills.

To find your calling, you need to honestly evaluate yourself in light of the six keys I’ve discussed above. I’m absolutely certain that by looking into the mirror of these six keys, you will find who you truly are and what you were created to do.

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