As I write, there are currently 2.7 million men that have left the workforce. For many of those remaining, quiet quitting is becoming the popular philosophy of work. A great renegotiation is happening, but only by recovering an understanding of vocation can workers and employers be happy with the result.
A contributing factor to the labor shortage is that people no longer feel engaged with their work. When employees are disengaged, whether disagreements over wages or poor work culture cause it, passion suffers. One reason people may feel unengaged at work might be due to a lack of meaningful relationships or compelling vision.
Our interactions become more transactional when we don’t prioritize building trusting relationships. We become stale without a challenging goal to pursue. Hanna Hart, a Forbes contributor, explains that “the essence of quiet quitting is doing your job, but not going “above and beyond” or not signing up for additional work that is not paid or rewarded.”
These trends can be combated by recovering the idea of vocation.
What is a vocation?
Vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which means “to call.” Today the word is used either as a substitute for occupation or to mean “a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.” The second use is closer to the original meaning.
Originally, vocation was used primarily in a religious sense. A person received a divine “call” to the priesthood. When Protestantism entered the scene in the 16th century, everyone was understood to have a vocation, not just ministers. Everyone is called to some particular task or job to which they must answer.
Some may shy away from the religious overtones, but research shows that, at least for Millennials, having meaning and purpose in their work is more important than money. If that’s true, then a robust understanding of what it means to have a vocation can help.
In his book The Seven Laws of Teaching (1886), John Milton Gregory addresses an objection in the introduction. Won’t a study of the “laws of teaching” change the work of teaching from something warm-hearted and enthusiastic into something mechanical and stale? Gegory’s answer is insightful: “The true worker’s love for his work grows with his ability to do it well.” In other words, if you like what you do, learning how to do it better will cause you to love your work.
For Gregory, teaching is a calling. In the edition I link to above, there’s a helpful essay by Doug Wilson that gives some guidance on how to know if you’re called to teach. The value of this guidance applies far beyond teachers. How do you find your calling? Look for these three things.
When all three of these items line up, there’s a good probability you’ve found your calling. When one of them is missing, it might mean you’re not quite there yet. You need all three.
If you have the desire and ability but no opportunity, you need to wait or get better at recognizing or creating an opportunity. Having the opportunity and ability but no desire is laying the grounds for a possible toxic environment. You’re set up for some grim evaluations if you have desire and opportunity without the ability.
Searching for all three
Everyone has a calling. I firmly believe that. However, sometimes a calling doesn’t fit the traditional job description. It may be serving your family in some capacity or charity work. In those cases, having a job is a way to fund your calling. A lot of people may fall into this category.
In the end, there is more to life than your job. Living life well requires wisdom. Figuring it all out is one great adventure filled with dragons, crowns, gold, and sweeping vistas. Go give it your all.
There’s a very practical thing business leaders can take away from the concept of vocations. Inspire new hires with your company’s mission. Tell the story of why your company exists. Passion is contagious.
Before there was Gordon Ramsay, there was Marco Pierre White. Born to a working-class family in Leeds, England, White’s relentless work ethic, instilled in him by his father, helped him to become the first British chef to win 3 Michelin stars.
His story covers many of the themes in this blog. I link to a video of him sharing his story with a group of aspiring chefs, handing down some hard-earned wisdom about what it means to have a vocation—something he lost sight of after fulfilling his dreams.
Here’s a quote from his talk that should whet your appetite:
“I walked the head of inspector of Michelin to his car. I shook his hands, and what he said to me was, “Marco, never forget what made you great.” And what he was saying to me was, stay behind your stove.”
Listen to him tell his story in vivid detail here.
The Trade Group designs and builds award-winning trade show exhibits for the nation’s biggest brands and B2B businesses. We are a group of experts working under the same calling of giving companies what they need to stand out from the crowd and become leaders in their industry.
The Trade Group is a full-service trade show and event marketing company. We will work with you to create an exhibit or an event that brings in leads and helps you achieve your business goals. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585.
Cameron Wilkinson is a writer and editor in Dallas, TX. His writing for the events industry pairs with his interests in sales and marketing. He also holds a B.A. in English Literature form the University of North Texas.
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