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How to Help

Where to Find Your Calling

Hidden Lessons from a Younger You

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Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash
Most kids like to collect stuff, but they usually collect normal things like Pokémon cards or interesting rocks. When I was a kid, I collected entirely useless facts. My family teased me for starting every few sentences with the phrase, “Did you know…” I still remember this one:

“Did you know that Americans eat an average of eight pounds of pickles per year?” (35 years later, this is still true by the way.)

When we were imagining our jobs as adults, everyone in my family predicted that I would be a professor. And I even considered it seriously for a semester of college, only to decide on law school and a legal career. The path didn’t seem like a good fit for me. But after an unexpected set of twists and turns, I’ve now been a professor for 15 years.

Why am I telling this story? Next week, the How to Help Podcast launches, and my first guest is a fellow professor, Dr. Jeff Thompson. He’s an expert in calling and how people find purpose and satisfaction in their work.

Here’s one of the tips he’s going to offer. If you are trying to figure out your calling in life, look to your childhood. What were you naturally drawn to?

And don’t think just about topics like dinosaurs, ballet, math, or soccer. Think about the way you enjoyed spending your time, or the role you played in your group of friends, or what people trusted you to do for them. Most people have natural talents and interests that can be traced back to their childhood years. One of mine was a fascination with knowledge and an instinct to share it.

Jeff is convinced from his research that all of us have gifts that we can offer the world. If you’re still not sure what yours might be or if you’ll ever find it, take confidence in knowing that an expert in calling believes in you and what you can do to help others.

What are some of your childhood talents or gifts that you could put to work today?

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Impact Highlight

Middle school is a natural time for kids to wonder about the jobs they'll have as adults, but it's also a time when many kids lose confidence in their future. Spark is a career- and self-discovery program that helps middle-schoolers explore work opportunities with the help of mentor companies. Over 10,000 students in the Spark program have become more engaged at school, become more confident, and better honed social and emotional skills.
Spark Logo

Promotional Stuff

Honesty is hard, and for some reason we hesitate to admit it. Last week, I wrote a piece for Public Square Magazine to commemorate National Honesty Day. The key to being more honest isn’t just the truth, it’s relationships. Here’s a snippet from the article:

How we think of others makes practical honesty so much clearer. We like to say, for example, that someone who lies has a “shaky,” “loose,” or “relaxed” relationship with the truth. But the more precise accusation is that their relationship with others needs to be stronger. They undervalue the people to whom they owe the truth.

National Honesty Day, by Aaron Miller

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