Every Calling Is Great If Greatly Pursued

August 5, 2016

“Every single day, I try to wake up in the morning and be a better person and earn that right to still be here.” Florent Groberg, Retired Army Captain, Medal of Honor Recipient

Some weeks ago, I had the honor to interview Florent, who also recently spoke at the Democratic National Convention. His story, while unique in so many ways, contains a message for all of us. Each of us has a choice to make when we wake up in the morning. Am I going to give my all to what I do? What is my purpose?

Your answer to these questions will determine your path, your success, and even your happiness. Today, we’re unveiling a series called “Every calling is great if greatly pursued.” Its intent is to salute LinkedIn members who, no matter what their calling, pursue it with passion, commitment, and resilience. Our hope is that these stories will inspire all our members to #ChaseGreat. For we found that purpose is not the exclusive domain of what are traditionally considered the "worthy" professions, but instead can be found in all walks of life and all work.

This exploration uncovered valuable insights into what it means to pursue a career "greatly" – insights that suggest LinkedIn can help you take action.

It all starts with the difficult task of believing in yourself

“Believing in yourself doesn’t happen overnight.” Samantha Davis, Pastry Chef

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The phrase "Believe in yourself" has become a cliché, like those found in Lifetime movies and on cheap inspirational posters with pictures of kittens trying to get onto a sofa. But the truth about self-belief is that it is hard – self-belief comes from having the immense courage to know and then to be your authentic self. Few people are born with such utter blind confidence; those who are may not always be the most successful due to their lack of empathy.  

In this series, you’ll meet Samantha who became a chef because she loved the joy people experienced when they ate her food. But when she was starting out, she seriously doubted her abilities because she hadn’t gone to culinary school. She found that the harder she worked in the restaurant scene in NYC, the more her confidence grew. A year into her career, Samantha proudly stands beside other accomplished chefs, and is steering her own future forward.

Doubts do not disprove ability; many may think they do, but many more have proved otherwise.

Nobody does it alone

“The meaning of failure is not being able to help the ones that I love.” Marwan Arkaw, Syrian Refugee and Intern at Nyheter365

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No successful person does it alone. Every successful person, with perhaps the exception of the most delusional narcissist, will point to mentors, teachers, supporters, friends, and contacts being instrumental to their success. It’s the people in our lives who give us strength, who open doors and urge us on.

We also had the honor of meeting Marwan, a Syrian refugee who risked his life to go to Turkey and then Sweden on a rubber dinghy. Every step along his arduous journey, people helped him – from finding a job in a bakery to becoming an English teacher, to now interning at a news center. While it’s important for him to realize his potential, his primary goal is to get his family to safety.

Every challenge makes you stronger...if you let it.

“No matter what happens, you just have to get up and you just have to keep fighting, because eventually you're going to win.” Lauren Wasser, Model & Activist

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It is not our greatest challenges that define who we become. It is how we reach after them. The semantic bankruptcy and gross overuse of once powerful phrases such as "Impossible is nothing" endanger and belittle this critical insight into success. This topic is hard to generalize about because we are all very different; in our confidence levels, our raw intelligence, and the degree to which we are sure of our purpose. The learnings from our work reveal one key thought, though: How you respond to the inevitable curveballs and setbacks is more important than the nature of the setbacks themselves. It is not easy to pick yourself up off the ground, dust yourself off and, as our CEO Jeff Weiner once advised me: to not allow yourself to be defined by a failure. Learn from it, embrace it, talk about it, own it, and be stronger for it. A professor at Princeton re-wrote his entire resume highlighting only failures instead of successes as he felt it reflected more powerfully on him as a person.

At age 24, model and activist Lauren Wasser was living her dream as a fashion model when she suffered from Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). She left the hospital with a prosthetic leg and half a foot. Instead of giving in to her darkest thoughts, she is now focusing on what’s possible and dedicating her life to redefining beauty.  

It is stories like these that inspire us every day to help our members expand their vision of all they can achieve. When it comes to pursuing work greatly, we’ve found that it’s not what your goal is that matters, it’s how you chase it that changes the trajectory of careers – and lives. Explore these stories and more at members.linkedin.com/chase-great. How will you #ChaseGreat today?

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