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GLN conversation – Calling, Passion and Purpose

Earlier this year I was approached to become a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK (GLN) and having accepted the appointment I had a “conversation by email” where we explored my background and some leadership related topics.  The discussion that ensued is reproduced here in an unedited format.  (Note that the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) is the flagship conference for the GLN which is held in Chicago in August each year.  This includes talks from Leaders around the world and is rebroadcast around the UK later in the year.)

Would you say that you are now living out your calling? 

Recently I went to my local gents’ outfitters to purchase a new suit since my old one had shrunk (!).  At the store, the outfitter prepared several suits for me to try on, first the jackets, then the trousers, and finally the waistcoat.  Each had a different style, a slightly different cut, a different colour and pattern, however when I put on the one that I eventually bought it immediately looked and felt “right”.  The outfitter had me double-check with other suits before making the purchase, but he and I kept coming back to the one that’s hanging in my wardrobe right now. It just fits. 

It feels the same way with my current role as a leadership speaker, coach and trainer.  It just fits.  I thoroughly enjoy getting to know a client, and rather as the outfitter checked a few options with me before settling on the final choice, I love to explore what will make the best solution for a client that will help them to learn, and implement the changes they need to make as a result.  

I initially spent a couple of years working on developing my ideas and working on my speaking skills so that I could share those ideas, and then started to work with some local clients delivering leadership talks and workshops.  This led to some great feedback that gave me the confidence I needed to know that I was indeed adding value to those I was working with.

One of my favourite ways to start exploring a relationship with a new client is to ask them: “What is your greatest Leadership Challenge right now?” and “What would success look like?” and then work to form a suitable program to address their challenges.  

For some 15 years, I had a career as a sales manager selling a high-value secure database solution, and I once heard a client say to their colleagues when they thought I was out of earshot: “No, he’s not trying to sell something, he’s trying to help us.”  It is my goal for every potential client to say that of me today when I discuss working with them.  

I just love helping people to learn, to turn information into knowledge and apply that knowledge, to gain the education, not just the qualification, to add value to the room wherever and whenever I have the opportunity; to help leaders learn how to maximise their effectiveness, and that of their teams.  It just fits.

How does calling fit with passion and purpose?

In the 15 invaluable laws of growth by John Maxwell, the second chapter is called “The Law of Awareness”, and states: “You must know yourself to grow yourself”.  The key question in that chapter is “How to find your passion and purpose” and is a great read in the context of this question.  It takes the reader through the journey to explore what would you like to do and asks the question: “Can you do what you would like to do?”.

Throughout my life, I have had a passion for music, and for playing music.  I currently play the violin in my local amateur Symphony Orchestra, and I play the bass guitar most weeks in the worship band at my local church.   When I was a teenager, someone in the audience listening to me play a violin solo subsequently offered to sponsor me on a musical scholarship.  In the end, I turned them down because I knew that I didn’t have the passion to practice for several hours a day, even if I had the potential to perform at a high level (which I don’t think I do).  

I still love to play music, but it has been so much better to keep it as an enjoyable hobby.  Britain’s got talent and other such shows are filled with people who have an enjoyable hobby, a calling which will never become a career.  

A calling becomes a career when John’s last question can be answered with a resounding Yes: “Will you pay the price to do what you want to do?”.  I knew that I would never have the passion to practice playing the violin for hours a day, but I know that I have happily spent countless hours working on my career as a leadership speaker, coach and trainer.   I have also received unsolicited feedback from those I admire and respect, and from those, I would want to work with to validate the question “Can I do what I want to do?”.  It just fits.

About Roger Fairhead

Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.

Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.