There is no doubt that entrepreneurs are one resilient group of people. With dynamic markets characterising the world economy today, only the resilient, dedicated and tough business people can survive.
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This is especially because entrepreneurs in the contemporary market environment keep on taking risks, dealing with affectations or narcissism from competitors, handling singularity and insensitivity prevailing in the market and may even have to handle guilt or seek atonement whenever they err.
To survive as an entrepreneur, one may also have to adopt an iconoclastic attitude. Such would enable him or her to challenge tradition and hence discover more avenues that haven’t been discovered or fully exploited by other entrepreneurs. Although it is obvious that pursuing enterprise successfully involves a combination of things, persistence is no doubt one of the key factors that drive successful people.
More over, persistence can only be born out of a deep yearning. It is for this reason that this essay posits that enterprise is indeed an inner calling. As has been argued by Tolle (2006) however, discovering one’s inner calling is tantamount to discovering the primary purpose of existence.
Such an undertaking is not always easy, and neither is it straightforward. For starters, a person must realise that they have an outer and inner purpose. While the former is secondary and concerns the actions and activities that one pursues in life, the latter is primary and is related to one’s existence (Tolle, 2006).
Most notably, every human being has an inner calling. However, most people according to Tolle (2006) have never awakened the same and hence face inadequacies in life that cannot be fulfilled by the cunningness, handwork, determination, struggles and efforts that they dedicate towards their outer purpose.
To realise one’s inner calling, Tolle suggests that one’s thinking and consciousness must separate. In other words, the inner calling is deeply entrenched in a person’s conscience.
The spirit behind enterprise especially in the developed world is usually pegged on capitalism. Over the years however, scholars and scientists have come up with different theories to explain the power or push behind enterprise. Two such scholars are Bloch and Richmond (2007), who argue that enterprise comes about as people try to accomplish physical or mental goals.
More candidly, the author argues that for as long as there is work to be done, human beings will continue expressing who they are and what they are all about through engaging in the work. Knowingly or unknowingly, working ensures that every person participates in the co-creation of the world.
Indirectly, Bloch and Richmond (2007) suggests that the power of enterprise can be found in one’s physical strength, interpersonal strength, emotional strength, verbal strength, analytical strength or moral strength. But how does one know just what to use in order to attain their enterprise goals?
Well, Cashman (1998) seems to have figured this out by stating that no one can be successful if he or she does not investigate his own weaknesses and strengths in equal measure.
Roberts (2006) also shares this perception and argues that sometimes, reducing self deficiencies calls for a person to move beyond his comfort zone, counteract his self-enhancing biases, his ego and even evaluate criticism directed at him. Before pursuing anything for example, Cashman (1998) suggests that one needs to sit back and reflect on why pursuing a goal is necessary.
Having figured out the ‘why’, the person should contemplate on the ‘how’ aspect necessary in pursuing the goal. According to the author, many people in the world today have deeply entrenched purposes, which they are unaware of. Such purposes unconsciously drive them to pursue different activities, which may seem reactive or ambiguous.
With a little reflection however, Cashman (1998) argues that people can discover that inner calling that makes them pursue specific things through discovering their purpose in life. The author argues that “purpose is not a goal to be set. It is not something you create. It is not the ‘great idea’ you come up with. It is something you discover…it’s your role on life; it’s what you have been prepared to express” (Cashman, 1998, p. 70).
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Cashman’s (1998) definition of purpose seems to suggest that people who have set up enterprises in obedience to their inner calling, have an easier time pursuing their goals. He specifically differentiates between purposeful enterprise and drudgery filled work.
In the former, he argues that life and work is characterised by frictionless flow even though a person may have to tackle obstacles and overcome challenges. In the latter however, Cashman (1998) argues that one is never satisfied irrespective of his or her accomplishments at work.
To lead a satisfactory life especially in the enterprise world, Cashman (1998) therefore suggests that people should learn to connect their inner feelings with what they do in life.
For example, before starting a business or seeking employment, one should determine if the job would help them attain some sense of meaning; whether they would love the job; and whether the job would connect them to their purpose. As such, only jobs that allow the person to pursue his or her dreams, goals and passions should be accepted.
Christianity and the inner calling concept in relation to enterprise
In a different perspective from Cashman’s, Delbecq (1999) argues that a “calling” adds a “sense of vitality and purpose” (p. 346) to work. Explaining the ‘inner calling’ concept from a Christian perspective, the author suggests that people who set up enterprises based in obedience to the inner calling do not do so out of the need to pursue a satisfying career or job.
Rather, they obey the inner calling because they realise that their energies would be properly utilised in identified service areas meant to serve humanity. To the ‘inner calling’-driven Christian, enterprise is not simply a means of making profits and seeking self-satisfaction.
Rather, it is a form of service offered to humanity as part of the larger Christian duty of loving other people in the society (Delbecq, 1999; Sandelands, 2008). The importance of heeding one’s ‘inner calling’ is asserted by Sandelands (2008) by stating that Christians are God’s servant and therefore they are to obey whatever commands God has given them.
Away from the religious overtones however, Delbecq (1999) like Bloch and Richmond (2007) argues that enterprise based on a person’s inner calling is more likely to face challenges more courageously.
Specifically, leaders driven by an inner calling have been defined as flexible, courageous and bold (Delbecq, 1999). These characteristics in turn means that such leaders are able to detach from the familiar and comfortable environments easily and are even daring enough to take on high risk paths due to their boldness and conviction.
Like Cashman (1998), Delbecq (1999) argues that a person cannot realise his or her inner calling without “reflection and meditation” (p. 347).
In addition to answering the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions regarding one’s purpose, reflecting and meditating on one’s inner calling gives the person the confidence and strength needed to handle burnout, overextension, public scrutiny, criticism and other forms of trials that come with being in a leadership position.
More so, a person who pursues enterprise as an inner calling is less likely to give up on his or her endeavours based on criticism, uncertainties or periods of underperforming business.
Notably, Delbecq (1999) indirectly suggests that people who establish enterprises in obedience to their inner calling find some kind of ‘special’ inner strength that is absent in people who pursue enterprise based on the need to make profits.
The inner strength, which is present with the inner calling ostensibly provide such people with the wisdom necessarily to discern enterprise goals, passion and energy to pursue the identified goals, commitment and concentration needed to overcome obstacles and challenges, and the discipline needed to overcome personal egos and obsessions (Delbecq, 1999).
Spirituality and the Inner calling
Over and above Christianity as expounded by Delbecq (1999), other authors (Driver, 2007; Giacalone and Jurkiewicz, 2005) seem to link the inner calling concept with spirituality. As such there seems to be a growing interest in the relationship that exists between management and spirituality.
Notably however, the mere expanse of spirituality and the different meanings the term has on different people makes it hard to have a standard definition of the term. For the sake of this study however, spirituality will be defined as the “Basic desire to find ultimate meaning and purpose in one’s life and live an integrated life” (Mitroff and Denton, 1999, p. xv, cited by Driver, 2007, p. 65).
Authors, Driver, 2007; Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, 2005; investigating how spirituality relates to the inner calling concept, and how the two affect a person’s behaviour towards enterprise, seem to concur that a person who practices spirituality is likely to be more productive at work. More so, such a person shows greater satisfaction with his work, and is able to establish better relationships with the people he works with.
Explaining why ‘spiritual’ people adopt such an approach to life, Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2005) state that “spirituality may encourage [a person] to perceive his or her job in the larger context of their life’s purposes” (p. 307). This in turn means that spirituality helps people renew their purpose in life thus restoring the energy needed to confront obstacles and challenges faced in the course of their work.
This assertion is further supported by Driver (2007), who argues that through spirituality, human beings strive to find their lives’ meaning, as well as their purposes in life. Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2005) for example, observe that people who perceive their work as an inner calling or vocation have better coping mechanisms when faced with challenges, and also have a stronger sense of who they really are.
In the enterprise setting, Driver (2007) argues that managers err by prescribing meaning to people working under them and giving such people little or no chance to discover and make their own meanings.
This assertion is supported by Roberts (2006) who argues that prescribing actions, attitudes or behaviours that should be followed in an organisational setting presents unrealistic expectations, which hinder healthy and normal functioning therein.
In such cases, spirituality may be a futile exercise especially where it is meant to propel people towards discovering their inner calling because even where they do (discover the inner calling) they do not have enough liberty to pursue the discourse reflected in their discovery of individual purposes in life.
In a different approach to spirituality and how it relates to management, Sandelands (2008) argues that leadership in any enterprise calls for power. Yet, the ultimate power rests with the Supreme Being and hence anyone who wants to practise good leadership must be able to connect with the Supreme Being through spirituality.
In an apparent contradiction of Driver’s (2007) assertion that leaders err by prescribing meaning to people working under them, Sandelands (2008) argues that “those invested with authority retain the right and responsibility to act on behalf of the author of authors, to create and get things done through others in the world.”
This therefore suggests that harmony in leadership can only be attained where the leader uses his or her inner calling to develop the vision and mission of the enterprise. These should then be shared with employees working in the enterprise as a means of offering guidance and leadership.
Power vested on a human leader should however not sicken or destroy the human spirit in others. Rather, it should enliven and foster human relations in such a manner that the leader is able to indirectly serve people working under him (Sandelands, 2008).
The author further observes that no other type of leader accurately embodies a person who obeys the inner calling concept than the servant leader. Such a leader prioritises his duties in such a way that, he is able to offer services to people working under him first by giving them opportunities where they can “grow taller and become healthier, stronger and more autonomous” (Sandelands, 2008, p.140).
Knowing one’s inner calling
Authors like Bloch and Richmond (1999), Delbecq (2007), and Driver (2007) argue that inner calling is essential in the establishment and successful running on enterprise. This however raises the question, just how easy is accessing one’s inner calling? Well, Cashman (1998) and Delbecq (2007) suggest that one needs to simply engage in reflection and meditation in order to realise what their inner calling is.
Scientifically though, the process seems much more complicated than the ordinary logician would think. In different researches, Lieberman et al. (2007) and Han et al. (2007) investigated how the brain reacts to different stimulus. Lieberman et al. (2007) investigates how “putting feelings into words” affects the limbic system.
In their findings, they established that affective labelling increases a person’s ability to manage negative emotions through the limbic system. Indirectly, this could be interpreted to mean that the more a person comes to terms with his or her inner strengths and weaknesses, the more he or she knows his capacities to accomplish certain things.
This in turn would make it easier for him or her to discover the inner calling, or better still, identify the enterprise that he or she can pursue with excellence. Indirectly, Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2005) have supported this observation in what they define as “transformational coping” (p. 307).
The two writers argue that spirituality enables individuals to perceive and comprehend different situations, thus enhancing such individuals’ preparedness to handle stressful events in their lives. In an example of how transformational coping works, Giacalone and Jurkiewicz (2005) observes that individuals are more watchful and discerning towards situations, thus increasing their chances to spot anomalies.
When such is the case, they are able to take advance action, which alters the course and the ultimate outcome of an event. This then means that the emotional impact of the event is not as intense as would have been if the person had not taken appropriate action in good time.
Han et al. (2007) however suggest that things are not as straightforward as they seem. Comparing perceptions between Christians and non-Christians in a brain imaging exercise, the researchers found that contrary to what earlier scholars (Sandelands, 2008; Driver, 2007) had implied, Christians usually have a harder time knowing what their calling in life is.
This is especially so because they are confused between the real feelings about what they would like to pursue in life, and the expectations placed on them by Christianity. The researchers found out that Christians responded faster when asked about adjectives that described Jesus, than when questioned about adjectives that describe them.
This may be interpreted to mean that most people, especially those who submit to religious beliefs that affect how they perceive life, do not have a clear perception of who they really are.
Does this therefore mean that Christians are less successful in managing enterprises? Well, not necessarily. This is especially so because as much as an enterprise could be an inner calling, it also takes an entire range of environmental conditions and resources to flourish.
Just like everything else in life, people who are driven by purpose are more likely to succeed in enterprise that those who pursue a specific course without reasoning out the ‘why’ and ‘how’ they are going to accomplish the same.
An inner calling on the other hand seems to offer a boost for purpose driven people because it not only enables them to unearth their potential in pursuing different activities, but also gives them the persistence and resilience needed to counter obstacles and challenges.
Management literature as reviewed herein suggest that while scholars are admitting that people’s inner callings may have a part to play in how different bosses, managers and general employees behave or handle situations at work, most such scholars still perceive the ‘inner calling concept’ as a term best used in religious or spiritual circles.
Yet, if the general concept of identifying human beings as a combination of physical, emotional and spiritual entities was to be employed in the management literature, there would be no denying that spirituality has an important role to play in developing the enterprise culture.
Overall, there is no denying that people who perceive the activities they pursue as part of fulfilling their inner calling, experience some form of motivation incomparable to neither monetary compensation nor performance awards. Such people are driven by a conviction that the activities they pursue are part of their preordained fate in life.
This probably explains the zeal, dedication and resilience that such people pursue their enterprise goals with. Admittedly, it takes more than mere human passion to pursue some goals without giving up irrespective of the adversities, challenges and even outright disappoint and criticism that one may face. Simply put, it takes the power of an inner purpose, which is best understood by people who have realised what their inner calling is.
Bloch, D.P. & Richmond, L.J. (2007). Soul work: finding the work you love, loving the work you have. Oregon: Verdant House.
Cashman, K. (1998). Leadership from the inside out. Minneapolis: readhowyouwant LLC.
Delbecq, A. L. (1999). Christian spirituality and contemporary business leadership. Journal of Organisational Change Management, 12(4), 345-349.
Driver, M. (2007). A “spiritual turn” in organisational studies: meaning making or meaningless? Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion, 4(1)56-86.
Giacalone, R.A. & Jurkiewicz, C.L. (2005). Handbook of Workplace spirituality and organisational performance. NY: M.E. Sharpe.
Han, S., Mao, L., Gu, X., Zhu, Y., Ge, J., & Ma, Y. (2007). Neural consequences of religious belief on self-referential processing. Social Neuroscience Journal, 3(1), 1 – 15.
Lieberman, M., Eisenberger, N., Crockett, M., Tom, S., Pfeifer, J., & Way, B. (2007). Putting feelings into words: affect labelling disrupts amygdale activity in response to affective stimuli. Psychological Science, 18(5), 421-428.
Roberts, L.M. (2006). Shifting the lens on organisational life: the added value of positive scholarship. Academy of Management Review, 31(2), 292-305.
Sandelands, L. (2008). Thy will be done? Journal of Management Inquiry, 17(2), 137-142.
Tolle, E. (2006). A new earth: awakening to you life’s purpose. NY: Penguin Publishing.