A few weeks ago, I attended the Organizational Behavior Teaching Conference where I had the chance to listen to Dr. Andre Delbecq, Professor of Management at Santa Clara University and one of the sages I have interviewed in the past. Just being in the same room with him was a gift and I was not alone in thinking this way. There were several people in the room who are well known in the field and they, too, wanted to hear the wisdom shared by Dr. Delbecq. He has a powerful and unique approach to teaching leadership to MBAs and executives. Since Delbecq talks a lot about the connection between leading and living (and he is a living sage), I am going to summarize what I gained from his comments.
Delbecq began by sharing a quote about "finding our calling" that was similar to this quote:
In What Color Is Your Parachute?my mentor, Dick Bolles, quotes Fred Buechner, who writes, "There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work . . . (and) the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." [2001 Edition, page 57.]
But Delbecq reminded us that "life unfolds and it can be a series of surprises." He said that we get so caught up in climbing the ladder that "we might be climbing the wrong ladder or maybe it is leaning against the wrong wall." He said he often returns to review the lives and wisdom of the great leaders from the past. What he has concluded is that for which we remember them they did not even consider as something they set out to do. Life just happened. And he said that is the mystery of life.
"The great spiritual traditions say, "You are in the perfect place right now. Therefore, we must be fully present to our present state because the future unfolds in the present tense." Delbecq said that if you review your own resume, you can see how life unfolds. He asked us, "How did you feel at the time you accepted a position, agreed to take on a community task, or accomplished that goal?"
Since Delbecq was talking to college professors, he directed his comments to us in terms of students. But I thought his comments could be applied to anyone at any place in life. "Discovering our calling, is not about a job, career, or place. We need to help students (people) find their giftedness."
While he shared many thoughtful and wise insights, Delbecq summarized his main points as follows:
1. Our essential calling is on becoming not on doing.
2. We need to be patient and not expect instant gratification. (practice watchful waiting)
3. Our calling is a life sequence unfolding day by day and hour by hour. Pay attention.
4. When we are present, we are in a place of privilege.
5. Intention is required, not perfection. Sense the intention of goodness–the purity of intention.
Now it is time for me to practice these points and wait for life to unfold. And I need to pay attention.
How is your life unfolding?