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The 7 Gates of Phi (Progressive Human Integration)Knowledge, inspiration, and key applications for the journey of self-development
By Sharif Maghraby
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Sharif Maghraby
All right reserved.
Knowing Yourself: Your Vocation and Purpose
Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it. —Viktor E. Frankl
A few months before my sixteenth birthday, I found myself thrust into the world of college. I really had no clue what to do with my life or what to study. In the first year alone, I changed my area of specialization from engineering to computer science to economics.
Sitting wide-eyed and awed in my calculus class, trying to make sense of difficult concepts like integration and differentiation, I felt that I might have made the wrong choice. Perhaps I would find my calling in the liberal arts, I thought. I dabbled in the fields of philosophy, sociology, and psychology. I have to admit that I discovered many interesting concepts in the field of psychology. I decided to enroll in various psychology courses to learn more. I still feel very passionate about the study of the human mind. However, as a college student, I had yet to find something that really inspired and motivated me.
I recall returning home one day to find my older brother and his friend camped out at the dining room table. They were trying to come up with ideas for a marketing campaign for a new product. As I stood in the corner of the room and listened to the flurry of ideas about television commercials, radio jingles, brand strategies, storyboards, and communication design, I had a eureka moment.
I remember asking my brother if he and his friend were discussing some side project that they were working on. He explained that it was an assignment for a mass communication course. It was at that moment that I realized I had found my true calling.
The next morning, I marched into the mass communication department and changed my major for the last time.
The Man in the Tree
Driving down the wrong road and knowing it,
The fork years behind, how many have thought,
To pull up on the shoulder and leave the car,
Empty, strike out across the fields; and how many
Are still amazed among dock and thistle,
Seeking the road they should have taken?
(Damon Knight, 1984)
Really knowing yourself is the mother of all knowledge.
Consider the following questions: What drives you? What are you passionate about? Why are you here? Where are you going with your life? Are you contributing to your personal growth? Are you contributing to other people's happiness? What is it that drives you to work? Is it money, fame, power, or purpose?
If you don't regularly ask yourself those questions, you can never realize your true potential. However, the only thing worse than not knowing yourself is believing that you know it all—as the old saying goes, "Jack of all trades, master of none."
In his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... And Others Don't, management guru James C. Collins uses a simple parable to explain what he calls the "hedgehog concept." It is fairly simple, but it contains powerful truths that can be used to discover just who you are and what your purpose may be.
Every outward journey begins with a journey within. (Anonymous)
Here is the story:
One day, a hedgehog and a fox meet in the forest. The fox is a cunning, shrewd, and intelligent creature who believes in his ability to do anything he puts his mind to—anything at all. The hedgehog, by contrast, is a humble creature who is not very good at many things, except for one—rolling into a ball to protect himself.
Suddenly, from a nearby thicket comes a ferocious beast, hungry and intent on finding dinner. The fox reacts by panicking and running through his considerable list of tricks to escape the beast, going from one to the other. However, in his panic and haste he cannot manage to get away from the beast and, unfortunately, is eaten.
The beast does not want to have anything to do with the hedgehog, though, who curls himself into a ball for protection at the first sign of danger, his sharp spines poking outwards. The beast soon leaves, and the hedgehog is left alone—alive.
What is the moral of this story? That it is better to do one thing extremely well than to be mediocre at many things and not do them nearly as well.
Remember the hedgehog as we go through this discussion.
A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. (Christopher Reeve)
Purpose: a reason, motivation, or underlying cause of an action; a sense of who one is and his/her ambitions, desires, and skills.
Vocation: a regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified.
When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind. (Seneca)
When you think about yourself, what comes to mind? What purpose do you think you have?
If you say, "Well, I'm not sure I have one," you will be relieved to know that everyone has a purpose. You just have not found yours yet, and that's okay.
That comes with personal development and the growth process. Every person has a purpose, some reason why he is here. We will talk more about purpose and why it matters later. But first, we will talk about something that can be just as important: your vocation.
You Are What You Do
Your work or your job is your self-portrait. You must paint it with excellence. If you are not happy in your job, ask yourself why you are still in it.
Quite simply, you are what you do.
Vocation is not necessarily just a job, by the way; it is what you dedicate your life to doing, which is similar to a purpose. For many self-aware people, their vocation happens to be their job. However, some work at a particular place of employment for money but view themselves, for example, as artists even though they do not make a living from their artwork.
Either way, you are what you do. We define ourselves by the effort and labor we put forth, so our vocation tends to determine how we feel about ourselves.
A warrior ... feeds his body well; he trains it; works on it. Where he lacks knowledge, he studies. But above all he must believe. He must believe in his strength of will, of purpose, of heart and soul. (David Gemmel)
Your Vocation and Your Happiness
Our sense of happiness is a complex concept that depends on a variety of factors. As mentioned above, most people derive their happiness about or discontent with life largely from their jobs. In fact, a recent survey conducted in the United States found that the majority of workers—55 percent—were dissatisfied with their jobs, and this dissatisfaction was causing significant unhappiness in their lives.
Here is why this is so important.
You spend so much time at your job or vocation that it has a significant impact on your self-esteem and self-image.
If you want to be happy, you have to find a way to be happy with what you do. That is why vocation matters.
You will recognize your own path when you come upon it, because you will suddenly have all the energy and imagination you will ever need. (Jerry Gillies)
Why Purpose Matters
"Okay," you say, "vocation matters. But what about purpose?"
Purpose matters as well—in fact, having a strong sense of purpose in your life may be the one key factor that determines whether or not you are truly happy.
You can be successful in life without a clear purpose, but does this mean you will be happy, or even content? No. There are plenty of successful individuals in the world who are not content with life because they have not yet found their true purpose—their calling—in life.
Let's face it: not doing what you are supposed to do—not fulfilling your purpose in life—and not being who you are supposed to be is no way to live. It feels empty and will never give you a sense of satisfaction or happiness.
I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all. (Leo C. Rosten)
So what does a purpose—a calling in life—look like? And how does it benefit you?
A purpose, first and foremost, is powerfully motivating. When you know your purpose, your calling, you are driven to succeed and pursue it—whatever it may be. This will impact other areas of your life as well.
A purpose gives you passion about a particular topic or subject. You become so captivated with what you are doing that life is filled with exuberance and joy. What you do in pursuit of your purpose may be dreary and disappointing at times, but the passion is always there.
Having a purpose gives you a strong sense of direction. In this day and age, direction is always a good thing. As humans, we are forward-looking creatures. We want to know what's coming up ahead. Having a clear direction allows you to accomplish truly great things—once you know your purpose.
When you see what you're here for, the world begins to mirror your purpose in a magical way. It's almost as if you suddenly find yourself on a stage in a play that was written expressly for you. (Betty Sue Flowers)
Finding Your True Purpose
Ask yourself these three simple questions:
1. What is it that you are truly passionate about? What energizes you and gets you excited as you start each day?
2. What are your primary strengths, skills, and talents? What do you excel at? (This could pertain to a hobby that you've never really considered pursuing as a career. It could also be related to a skill you have mastered.)
3. What would drive your economic engine? What can you do to make a living from this hobby?
Now, review these answers and look for the common thread that flows through them. The area where your answers overlap is your "hedgehog" (remember the story at the beginning of this module?). That is where you shine—what you do best. It is something you do extremely well that stirs your passion and can support you financially.
Mind you, this small exercise may not give you all the answers, but it can definitely help you to start thinking and move you toward finding your true purpose and calling in life.
True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. (Helen Keller)
Now that you have determined your purpose and figured out what you'd really like to be doing with your life, here is an action plan for implementing the necessary changes to make it happen.
1. Evaluate Your Life's Roadmap
On a piece of paper, make an outline of where you would like to go with your life. Brainstorm about your life's purpose. Start with your hedgehog. Be creative and don't limit your thoughts. Think of the impossible. Believe it and you can achieve it.
2. Ask Yourself More Questions
3. Evaluate Your Job
4. Track Your Progress
People who consider themselves victims of their circumstances will always remain victims unless they develop a greater vision for their lives. (Stedman Graham)
You Can Do It!
Hopefully you now see how extremely important vocation and purpose are to your life. Remember: always try to examine yourself objectively and evaluate your life.
Who are you? What do you want to do? Who do you want to be?
Step away every now and then and look at where you are going. We are all unique, and we all have a unique purpose and calling. Find yours. The rest will begin to happen on its own.
I've come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that's as unique as a fingerprint—and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you. (Oprah Winfrey)
Collins, James C. (2001). Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... And Others Don't. New York: HarperCollins.
Leider, Richard. (1997). The Power of Purpose: Creating Meaning in Your Life and Work. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. —Chinese proverb
Apparently, I'm an excellent guitarist, songwriter, and live performer. This is not my inflated opinion of myself, but something I have been told many times by many different people. I have never studied music formally and actually hated music classes in school. So how can this be?
Well, I found my path to music later in life. There was a point in time before Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and jazz when I was lost in the mundane madness of the charts. It was meaningless to me. However, I recall a turning point in my life when I was fifteen and first heard a live album by Dire Straits called Alchemy. That was my first "real" exposure to progressive rock music.
So my mother bought me a classical guitar as a graduation present. I hadn't a clue as to what to do. I bought books, spoke to guitarists, watched films, and basically locked myself up for six months. My friends actually remember that time in my life where I disappeared to form a bond with my new guitar. And when I emerged, I was playing music.
I removed the strings and stuck colored dots on certain notes on the guitar fret board so that I could learn the scales in my mind. I practiced ten hours a day until my fingers bled and callouses grew on my fingertips. I learned about chords, harmony, scales, modes, and the art of song writing. I still recall the feeling when I actually managed to play for about twenty seconds without the strings buzzing, without being out of time, and without messing up the chord shapes. It was a moment of simultaneous realization and joy—"Oh my God! I'm making music!" I was also surrounded by guitarists, drummers, poets, and artists at the time who inspired me and taught me.
Eighteen years later—I still play my guitar every day.
* * *
What could you accomplish in your life if you were self-motivated? Who would you be?
If you are like most people, with the right amount of self-motivation you would do, achieve, and be everything you've ever wanted. Nothing could hold you back. Nothing could stop you from being fulfilled, accomplished, and successful.
If only you had that elusive and powerful personal force known as self- motivation.
The Latin root of the word motivation means "to move"—to take action. In order to achieve anything in life, you must first act. Action is fueled by self-motivation. It takes a lot of work to become a fulfilled individual; self-motivation is a significant part of the process.
In this module, you'll find powerful insights about self-motivation that will help you fully realize your talents and strengths.
Let me relate a story to you of a young man who wanted nothing more than to be a great warrior. The problem was that he was born with only one arm and was constantly told by everyone that he could never be a great warrior.
He didn't listen. He set out every day from a young age to work at his dream—exercising, practicing, and learning the arts and crafts of his trade. With years of hard training, he built his mind and body, bit by bit, into a finely honed instrument. But, because he had only one arm, all the other warriors in his village mocked him for his foolish efforts.
One fateful day, the village was attacked and every man in the settlement drew up arms and ran into battle. The tide of the battle was turning against the villagers, who were desperately looking for any chance at victory. The invaders outnumbered them, and soon the survivors were facing destruction.
The one-armed young man seized the opportunity. He drew his weapon and charged into battle. The years of hard, relentless practice had turned him into a truly powerful and disciplined warrior. With his leadership and skill, the village turned the tables and defeated the invaders.
This young man realized his dream—not because someone told him he was worthy or gave him constant support. He had the one powerful attribute that carried him through the years of hard effort to the ultimate payoff.
Excerpted from The 7 Gates of Phi (Progressive Human Integration) by Sharif Maghraby Copyright © 2013 by Sharif Maghraby. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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