Some of our proteges ask our mentors and especially our coaches about how to discover their sense of purpose i.e. the broader why which motivates them and which could offer more meaning if they align their work with it. Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big*, names our desires to contribute to the world 'callings', and says there are different types: community callings, career callings, and creative or vocational callings. She defines a calling as “an inner sense of longing or inspiration to fill a particular need in the world”.
We receive many callings over a lifetime. They begin and end. Often, we’ll be pursuing more than one calling at a given time…What callings are showing up in my life right now? And yet, while there is multiplicity and diversity across our callings, if you look at the many callings you’ve felt in your lifetime, you’ll see some threads and themes… The threads and themes that show up again and again in our diverse callings point us to our larger, lifelong callings.”
Read more to discover Tara’s calling driving her to create her Playing Big programme to inspire others to achieve their dreams, as well as explore ways to recognise our own callings, including some familiar to me in my passion for people development, and my yearning to found Protagion to help professionals actively manage our careers.
Once you’ve been working for a while, you’ll have been through many feedback exercises, and I’m no different in that respect. Solicited or unsolicited, formal or informal, developmental or critical… Many organisations require ‘360 degree’ input, from those below you, at the same level as you, and above you, aiming for a holistic perspective. And, there’s also the feedback we get on a daily basis, reactions from the audience to our presentations, smiles or frowns in the corridors, body language in meetings, responses to our emails… Lots of input if we’re open to it, but it can be overwhelming. What’s a healthy way to approach feedback?
When we actively seek input from others and ask for their advice, it makes us feel collaborative, humble and connected with them. Indeed, we strongly suggest gathering feedback as part of preparing for your performance appraisal as it provides supporting evidence for your conversation with your manager, including reactions from customers, praise from colleagues or suggestions for improvements.
It is natural that a wide range of views will contain conflicting responses too, partly because different people see you in different situations and they each have their own preferences – more on this later. The key is in assessing which is ‘outlier’ feedback and which are common threads that require attention from you.
For example, I recall how years ago one of my team told me that I’d regularly ask him for feedback, but then wouldn’t do what he suggested. I was taken aback, believing that my requests for input were genuine. Upon reflection, I realised that he was talking about how he felt that I should come into work early like him as well as greet him cheerily to get the day off to a good start. I’m so not a morning person, so a ‘good start’ for me is to ease slowly into the day, warming up by midmorning aided by caffeine. I don’t see the morning commute as a joyous experience nor bound into the office eager to attack my to-do list. He saw this as disrespectful to him though, and once suggested that when the clocks shifted for daylight savings time, I should use that as an opportunity to come into work earlier until the clocks shifted again! The night owls among you will attest how impossible cheery mornings are for us.
Read more to see why feedback isn’t actually about you, why it is still incredibly important, and who to listen most intently to.
This article is by Soshan Soobramoney, one of Protagion’s mentors. Soshan is a qualified actuary who has worked in a number of product and customer-facing roles in the insurance industry, and now is a lecturer teaching future actuaries at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. He is also a Time to Think facilitator – in that capacity he teaches others how to create environments that enable people to think beautifully and courageously for themselves. Such training allows us to improve the quality of our relationships, structure meetings to maximise their impact, boost the quality of the thinking of our team members, and increase our effectiveness as leaders. Here is his introduction to the Time to Think principles:
“What is the one thing that, if it could, would change everything? This important question and others drove Nancy Kline, bestselling author of Time to Think*, to a lifetime of work on how human beings could “be” with each other in such a way that ignites our human potential and increases our intelligence.
I first came across Time To Think in a three-week leadership course I did while working in the insurance industry several years ago. I was fascinated at how the facilitators of that course made me feel that I was thinking, growing and flourishing during every single minute of those three weeks. “How did they do that?” I wondered after each day of that course. And how could I be the type of leader that generates that kind of creativity and energy in people? I soon discovered that those facilitators understood some powerful things about how the human mind works. What ignites it and what blocks it. How it hates to obey but loves to play. How it dances at the sound of a question but stumbles when given an instruction. How it creates in the presence of ease but freezes up in the presence of urgency. So when I was due to move to London at the end of that year, I made it a goal to meet Nancy Kline and started studying with her. I’ve been studying this work for nearly a decade and I continue to get more and more excited about its potential to change the world, the more I learn about it...