Calling: Performing from highest intention and purpose

Calling (also mission or purpose) along with Character makes up the Core for an individual, group, organization, or system.  When centered we are aligned with and act from our core.

Calling is the deepest source of purpose and motivation for a person, group, organization, or system.  It establishes a highly meaningful and motivating destination and path for getting there. When people act from calling they are intrinsically motivated and have an inner GPS.  While one’s character is a stable core; calling or mission, may change over time to fit changes in circumstances, development, interest, and needs.

Calling for Cooperative Advantage goes beyond one’s narrow self-interest to also meet the needs of others and the whole.  At the dimension of the organization, calling serves the organization and it’s employees, customers, partners, and other stakeholders including society more broadly.  Calling is enjoyable and yet is also challenging.  When a person group or organization is pursuing a true calling they seem to be built for that job. There’s a deep fit.

Why is it important? 

Calling is our link to the deepest form of intrinsic motivation.  Such motivation is stronger and more adaptable than the more prominently used extrinsic motivation (the use of incentives and rewards).  Intrinsic motivation is the driver of true engagement. When calling includes personal benefit, benefit for others, and for the whole, people strive to act in ways that minimize detrimental side effects.  In complex and dynamic situations this opens the way to sound judgment calls, which are necessary for staying on track.

What happens when calling is missing?  

This is the situation for the vast majority of people in the vast majority of organizations today.  The result is what we have today: two thirds of employees are either disengaged or actively undermining their organizations.  There is also an overreliance on external rewards to motivate people.  For today’s complex and dynamic environments it is not possible to predict and measure all the factors that matter for performance.  Hence, people game the system resulting in maladaptive behaviors that undermine overall performance. People lose touch with their intrinsic motivation and they are less able to access their insight and judgment.

Elevating calling through practice 

For personal calling this:

  1. Starts with understanding our interests, strengths, and the situations within which we were most engaged and alive. 
  2. This is then matched to the needs and opportunities within the current or desired context. 
  3. From here, we can our refine calling by examining the following question: “what is my highest purpose that would serve me, others, and the overall situation?”
  4. The best answer is one that we find to be personally compelling and motivating.  An answer from which we can grow, develop, contribute, and interact in ways we find stimulating and nurturing.
  5. Actions and decisions need to be examined continually to ensure they are fully aligned with calling.
  6. Calling also needs to be revisited and refined from time to time especially when circumstances change

Calling for a group,  organization, or system follows a similar process

  1. It starts by examining the circumstances and needs of the situation and matching this with the strengths and interests, and potential of the group, network, and/or organization.
  2. It requires ongoing monitoring of decisions and activity as well as ongoing refinement as circumstances change
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