I Forgot About My Calling

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“Alyssa, you wrote in your final paper that you think your calling is to become a public speaker.”

“Yes I did,” I said to Dean Christian, the Dean of the College of Business and my Intro to Business professor. It was the beginning of my second semester at Concordia University when he stopped in the hall. I was unnerved by his memory of my paper that I had turned in a month earlier and even more uneasy as I wondered what words might come out of his mouth next.

“Why don’t you come to this semester’s Intro to Business class and give a short speech? Just 10 minutes or so, about whatever you’d like to talk about.”

“Sure,” I agreed feeling on the spot.  I wasn’t sure if he could flunk me from a course I’d already finished if I said no, but I figured saying no to my dean and my dream wasn’t a great idea.

“Great, I’ll have Linda send you an email with details for when to come.”

It wasn’t my first time to give a speech. A few months earlier when I graduated high school, I had a week to write and prepare for a valedictorian address to over 1,000 people. When I looked out into the crowd and saw all eyes on me, the thrill of public speaking washed over me. I attribute it to the fact that as one of six kids, all eyes were never on me and I simply adored the attention.

Through a series of papers about in my Intro to Business class, Dean Christian (now referred to as Dr. Christian, CEO) had us evaluate our lives and passions to uncover our calling. I kept thinking back to that moment behind the podium when I first felt the thrill of being heard. I was convinced that speaking was my calling.

But after I spoke to that Intro to Business class during my second semester of college, I never spoke again. Sometimes I would read scripture in chapel and I would sing to lead worship at events, but I never publicly gave a speech unless it was a grade for a class project.

I forgot about my calling.

I read a book in January called The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant To Do. The book doesn’t hit stores until next week, but my friend Jeff Goins sent me an advanced copy because he’s overwhelmingly generous with his work. In this book, Jeff shares stories of how he and many others found and pursued their calling.

Similar to me, Jeff worked for a nonprofit before transitioning into a full force pursuit toward his passion of writing. As I read the stories in this book, I smiled thinking that I was already well on my way to being an author. The stories in the book were encouraging and inspiring, but I thought this book wasn’t written for me. I am already living my calling!

But about a month ago, Heath was listening to a voicemail on his phone and signaling to me from across the room. I was in the middle of editing a video but I pulled the headphones out of my ears to see what he was smiling about.

“You know my friend Billy?” Heath said excitedly. “His company is hosting a women’s conference in March and he wants you to speak. He saw our clips on the news and thought you would be a good speaker. It’s the week we get back to Austin!”

Sometimes in life, you are blessed by opportunities that, if recognized, can launch you forward and remind you of where you’re supposed to be. If I hadn’t just read Jeff’s book about the path to discovering what you were meant to do, speaking at this conference could’ve just been another fun experience that came from our Hourly America journey.

But when Heath shared this news with me, nerves washed over me and a long-forgotten, five-year-old memory popped into my head. I saw 18-year-old me sitting in my dorm room writing a paper for my Intro to Business class about how I felt that public speaking was my calling. I remembered feeling so much clarity as I wrote that bold opening sentence to my paper: My vocation is to be a public speaker.

Last night, I spoke to 200 women about my wonderful husband and our unforgettable honeymoon adventure. I thought of my favorite quote from Jeff’s book.

“Clarity comes with action.”

As I shared my story and met these amazing women, I felt that same clarity I felt when I first discovered my calling. In the hectic pace of life, I let that dream fall wayside to be forgotten and replaced. Not that I regret it one bit! I did spend that last year chasing dreams of traveling and writing. And it was chasing those dreams that led me to meet Jeff, to read his book at the opportune time, and ultimately to land this opportunity to speak and re-discover my calling.

Like Jeff says, clarity comes with action. For me, action looked like writing full-time and traveling to 49/50 states for my honeymoon (Many of you have asked and we are visiting Alaska, state 50, in June when us Texans can handle the weather). Action meant saying yes to speaking and sharing my story when the opportunity appeared before me.

I’m not sure if I could’ve spoken last night had I not read Jeff’s book and been encouraged to chase this calling to speak. His book gave me the extra push I needed to take the stage and decide to work toward my forgotten calling to be a public speaker. What is your calling? What were you meant to do?

Like I said, Jeff’s book comes out next week on March 24th. But being the generous writer that he is, he’s giving away his book for free. Plus, he’s giving it away before it even hits the book shelves. Which is awesome because then we can say things like “oh, I already read that book before it even came out,” and people will be amazed at how obviously cool we are. It’s a pretty awesome deal. All you have to do is pay shipping costs and be willing to take action as you learn how to discover your calling.

The Art of Work calling