The process I teach—Radical Discernment—comprises three core skill sets:

1) Hearing the Call,

2) Crossing through the Gates, and

3) Gathering Allies.

In this article, I’ll share with you a brief overview of each of the skill sets.

One: Hearing the Call

Although most people think of a calling as a specific vocation or career, a calling is more than that. A calling is a longing to take on a new challenge in service of something larger.

Our callings speak through our bodies as needs and desires. However, most of us were trained to ignore our longings, needs and desires, so to find out what’s calling us, we must reclaim desire and learn to honor our needs.

To help you create a life that honors your multiple commitments, make the hard decisions with clarity and confidence, and experience more aliveness and ease, we need the ability to:

  1. Acknowledge your needs, desires, and longings;
  2. Understand your body’s needs, your connection needs, and your solidarity needs;
  3. Imagine the life you long for;
  4. Embody your commitment to what is calling you next; and
  5. Explore various work-life possibilities that might honor your priority needs.

Two: Crossing through the Gates

In no great story does the hero get a call and complete the journey in one giant leap, end of story. It’s not that easy.

To honor our desires and needs, we must often cross through a gate—a moment of decision or completion, a threshold between life as it has been and life as it will be, a liminal space where we say no to one thing to say yes to our callings.

Big gates come only once in a while. We live life mainly at the little gates—the small decisions about where to invest attention, how to show up in a conversation, what to do now. Summed up in one sentence, to cross through your gates (big and little) and honor your callings, you must develop the ability to consistently:

  1. Notice the choice you face and pause,
  2. Turn toward the parts of yourself who are struggling with kindness and compassion,
  3. Notice how these parts feel,
  4. Notice what the parts are telling themselves, and choose a story that serves you more,
  5. Notice what the active parts need, and
  6. Choose a step that helps you meet your needs and honor your callings.

Three: Gathering Allies

The mythical self-made man is a fallacy. On no great journey does the hero ever go it alone.

Once the hero accepts their call, they are greeted by allies—magical helpers, fairy godmothers, secret agents, protective amulets of all sorts.

Self-reliance is an illusion and a fatal aspiration. No one else can take the journey for us, but we cannot make the journey alone. Without the support we need, we can get lost in the underworld. With the solidarity of comrades, we are far more likely to exit the labyrinth alive.

To discern what’s truly needed, sustain ourselves for the long road, and have the support we need to live our callings, we be able to:

  1. Set up support systems to consistently help you meet your needs.
  2. Listen carefully to what your community needs and wants.
  3. Learn from people who’ve pursued similar paths.
  4. Experiment with work-life possibilities and learn from what emerges.
  5. Make requests in a way that increases the chances of others saying yes.
  6. Share your plans with loved ones who might disagree while still honoring your relationships.

In my career coaching and leadership coaching work and my Saturday Love Letter, I help my clients develop the three skill sets of Radical Discernment.


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