I’m reading Laura Gassner Otting’s book Limitless. In fact, I’m rereading it because it’s an unusual business book in that it’s quite lyrical in its prose. While I voraciously read business books, and often take a lot of content from them, I also typically find them unsatisfying because there’s so little care given to sentence construction. I understand the value of plain language, but there’s much delight to take from a thoughtfully crafted sentence that incorporates both form and function. Limitless has both, which makes it a denser, but ultimately much more satisfying, read.
The premise is that people need to have aspects of four areas: calling, connection, contribution and control. When you have achieved elements of these, you are able to live with what Ms Gassner Otting (Ms GO going forward) calls consonance, aka your purpose. That’s super simplified, but this is not a book report; I encourage you to read the book to get a deeper understanding for yourself.
My first time through the book, I got caught in the net of the four areas. I came up with some tepid answers for each of them, but even those didn’t easily arrive for me, and I felt like I was grasping on a couple of them. Perhaps that’s why I’m struggling to grow my Personal Systems Disruption work? After all, if I can’t articulate it for myself, how in the world will it truly resonate for anyone else?
I thought it might be useful, not just for me but for you, too, to create a five-part blog series on each of these four areas and a wrap-up of how they together will help me/you achieve consonance.
Let’s get started with Calling.
Calling initially sounds like you are being asked to take a missionary trip, enter a religious order or apply to seminary. That’s only one, quite limited, definition of calling. Ms GO tells the story of a woman trying to get ordained when a mentor tells her that the priesthood is not the only way to minister (Chapter 4).
OK, so I don’t have to renounce my personal ban on organized religion to have a calling. That’s good because I’m not prepared to make that renouncement, but I do absolutely have a calling. I know it because, as you may recall, I had that lightning bolt moment, that clear open channel between the Universe and me, on the dirt road by the soybean field in September. That’s not something I can just casually throw away. Unfortunately, that ah ha moment didn’t come with a start date. But it also didn’t come with an expiration date either, so I continue to soldier on.
My calling is to be a Personal Systems Disruptor, to create opportunities for people to meaningfully disrupt their personal systems to achiever their highest calling through writing, videos, coaching, retreats and public talks.
But what if my calling doesn’t resonate clearly with others? I know from the survey I sent out to the PSD retreaters that the phrase Personal Systems Disruption doesn’t “spark” for everyone. It really works for me because I know that what I often need (want?) is not the still, small voice but the thick brick wall to create change.
Side note, I think it’s time to stop saying I won’t hear the still, small voice since both of my life-altering miracle moments have been exactly that. There’s that Universe being incorrigible again!
I’m reluctant to give up the phrase Personal Systems Disruption because 1) the Universe gave it to me, and 2) it’s catchy, kind of quirky and exactly what I want to do. Rather than soften the phrase, I just need to better define it for others.
OK, it’s your turn. What’s your calling? No idea? No soybean field or angel moment to lean on? That’s ok. Ms GO proposes these four areas from which to draw inspiration:
- Find what fuels you—pretty self explanatory; think beyond your job
- Make deposits in the future bank of you—dream about what you would love to do down the road
- Take an attention inventory—what are your skills? Think about that from both your job and your volunteer work
- Tend your crops—prepare today for what you know you want to do tomorrow
Think about the name of Ms GO’s book. Limitless. Without limits. Too often, we put limits even on our free writing, brainstorming and dreaming, as if what we articulate will be seen and judged by others, seen and judged by ourselves. You are allowed to dream as big and wild as you want. In fact, I not only encourage it, I demand (in as much as I can demand you, the unknown reader) you to go all out. The only thing you will “waste” is some ink and paper.
Never even learned to juggle but you’ve always dreamed of being part of a circus? I have a friend who took some circus training courses before taking a sabbatical from her “normal” life to join a traveling circus for a period of months. It had always been her dream. And then she came back to her regular life and now can proudly tell people that she literally up and joined the circus.
If you aren’t willing to dream about your limitless life, then how in the world will you ever hope to achieve it? When I used to tell people that I was going to win an Oscar, they laughed at me. That was ok. I wasn’t dreaming my dream for them; I was dreaming it for me.
When I tell people today that I’m going to be a world-renowned author, speaker and coach, they don’t laugh right at my face, but I suppose they think I’m as looney as they did when I was younger. You know what? That’s still ok because I’m still not dreaming my dreams for them. And this time, my calling is in service to them, even if they don’t know it yet.
The biggest difference between these two dreams is that I’m not just dreaming about PSD work; I’m actively working towards it and already doing it. I am a public speaker, I do write and make videos, I host PSD retreats. This time, I’m not waiting for a Hollywood director to find me; I’m paving my limitless path even as I type. And you can, too.
Get Laura Gassner Otting’s book, and we can work through it together. Perhaps the only thing better than defining your limitless path is to work on it with someone else who can champion, goad, guide and celebrate with you.