** Today’s post is from the book “Let your Live Speak” by Parker J. Palmer.   As recommended on the Tim Ferriss podcast from Jerry Colonna.   Colonna is an American venture capitalist and professional coach who played a prominent part in the early development of Silicon ValleyHe is the recipient of numerous awards and a speaker on topics ranging from leadership to starting businesses. Colonna has been named to Upside magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of the New Economy, Forbes ASAP’s list of the best VCs in the country, and Worths list of the 25 most generous young people.

One of the big problems in our society is that too many people are spending huge percentages of their life times working in jobs that are not congruent with their big picture ideas of what life should be.  We are taught to “find a good job” then make our lives work around it.  This came from generations of scarcity.  Remember that the great depression was only 1 person ago.

This model does not bring happiness in today’s world.  This is because so many of our “jobs” aren’t aligned with what we want their lives to be.  It is important to draw a distinction between a “job” or “career” and finding your VOCATION.

The better path is to find your vocation.

vocation (from Latin vocātiō, meaning ‘a call, summons’) is an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained, or qualified. Though, now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity. Your vocation is more likely to bring your fulfillment than your career or job.    It’s all about finding your Way.

To find your vocation, you must listen to your life.  You must Let your Life Speak – and listen to it.

Growing up Quaker, the author was often – unsatisfactorily – met with the traditional Quaker counsel of:  Have Faith and The Way will open up.    To which many people are left with a feeling of “I have faith, but what I don’t have is time. The only way that has opened up so far, is the wrong way. ”

So he sought counsel from a local wise woman, who replied:  “I’m a birthright friend, and in 60+ years of living Way has never opened up in front of me.  But a lot of way has closed behind me, and that has had the same guiding effect.”

This lesson is a reminder that A LOT can be learned from our temporary failures.   Imagine you were dropped in the middle of the Pentagon building (largest office building in the world), with no map.   You have no idea how to get out.   However, if you go through enough doors and close them behind you, you will eventually end up outside.  And as you close more and more doors you will find patterns and systems that work.  Which will speed up your path to the goal.

There is just as much guidance in what cannot, and does not happen, in life as what can happen in what can or does.  We are raised in a sub-culture that we can do anything, if we made the effort.  Troubles come when you start hitting your limitations, in the form of failure.

Without the mental preparation that failures are just part of the journey, it’s too easy to chalk these things up to “meant to be.”   With better mental preparation, it’s easy to see that it is entirely possible that embarrassment might be the only way to get your attention.  Might be forcing you to face your nature.

There are 2 kinds of limitations:  (1) Those imposed by persons or political forces hell-bent on keeping us in our places and (2) Those that come with selfhood.  This is why getting Guidance from Way closing requires thoughtful discernment.  You need to tell if it’s “meant to be” or just a corporate culture that hates anything that challenges the status quo or maximized profit.

One of our national myths is that we believe that there are no limits.  But merely temporary setbacks.   Which is good for many, many things.  However, it doesn’t allow you to learn the vital clues to our identity that comes from Way closing.

We are trained to believe that the only changes that matter are the ones that can be measured or counted.   We must be honest with ourselves.  As capitalists, we believe in the power of external realities more than internal ones.   How many times have you heard or said “Those are inspiring notions, but the hard reality is ….”

  •  How many times have you worked in systems were you were told that the only changes that matter are the ones that can be counted?
  •  How many times have you seen people kill off creativity due to the CURRENT constraints of “this is what we do.”

But the great insight of our spiritual freedom is that we are not victims of this society.  We are its co-creators.  We choose to live in and through this complex interaction of spirit and matter.   External reality does not impinge upon us.

If we find ourselves constrained by our external realities, it’s because we have unwittingly co-conspired in our own imprisonment.  We do not deny the existence of this external world.  We just believe that it’s created by us projecting our spirit upon it.  For better or for worse.

If our institutions are rigid, it’s because our hearts fear change.  If it pits us at odds with each other, it’s because we prize victory over all else.    If they are heedless of human well-being, it’s because something is heartless within us.

Consciousness precedes being.  With that, we grow the world around us.  Consciousness can form, deform, or reform the world around us.  We cannot grow and build new great things without starting first at the step of “imagination.”   Way is not found in accepting the status quo.   It is found by choosing paths that allow you move toward YOUR goals.

And create scenarios where you get to YOUR goals by creating a path for others to achieve theirs.