Ever run around the house looking for your keys only to find you were holding them all along? I've done that before, and my wife just shakes her head and suggests a good Alzheimer's medication.
Sometimes the thing we're looking for has been in front of us all along. We just fail to see it because life gets in the way. Often, while we're busy pursuing opportunities and juggling responsibilities, we miss the bread crumbs. The bread crumbs are those clues as to who we really are or wish to become.
If you trace back your life and examine it, look for the trail of bread crumbs. They will form a theme. An insight into who you are. When I started doing some serious introspection, I began seeing a pattern. From grade school to present, I saw a recurring theme of artwork and creativity. One bread crumb was my memory of how school teachers applauded my artwork. Another bread crumb was when I became a cartoonist for my high school and college newspapers. Still another was when I began successfully publishing articles in local newspapers.
When I went off to college I had to declare a major. I liked art, but my Dad suggested a discipline with good prospects for employment. A deputy sheriff once visited my high school and spoke about his law enforcement career. It sounded exciting, challenging and different. So, I ended up declaring Criminal Justice Administration as my major in college. And that led to graduate school and eventually a 25 year career in police work.
The interesting thing is that our lives speak to us if we listen. Throughout my police career, I still found ways to infuse creativity and artwork into my life. I drew cartoons all over the police department. On memos, the grease board. I moonlighted with the local newspapers drawing political cartoons. I began studying landscape painting. And I kept writing creatively. In hindsight, it's patently obvious to me now that I was meant to be an artist. But it seems I was also meant to be a police chief.
One of my blogging and writing mentors is best selling author Jeff Goins. He recently wrote an excellent book entitled The Art of Work. One of the things Jeff writes and talks about is called "The Portfolio Life." What he is referring to is that we are many things in life, and our true calling is a reflection of these things. The best part is that "nothing is wasted." All our experiences contribute to who we are. My police background has taught me discipline, confidence and focus. Qualities that have helped make me a better writer and artist. I recommend Jeff Goin's book, which profiles different people and shows how all them evolved into their true calling.
The secret to finding your true calling is in understanding that it's not one thing. It's an amalgamation of many things, all uniquely interwoven. But you've got to pay attention to the overriding theme. Those breadcrumbs. And then you've got to start making choices about what's important, beyond health and family. You've got to figure out how all these parts of your portfolio life fit together.
Artist Pablo Picasso put it best: "Only put off tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." In other words, don't procrastinate. Invest in some introspection. Figure out what those bread crumbs are in your past. Look at what you're doing now. Out of that melding you'll probably conjure the path ahead. And all of it is part of your true calling and eventually your legacy.