When I was recently at the Wild Goose Festival, I kept hearing a couple of terms pop up: intersection and intersectionality. It eventually got to the point where I thought I'd explode if I heard either of the
The terms would be used something like this: "My interest lies at the intersection of race and spirituality." Or maybe like this: "My work is the study of the intersectionality between xenophobia and privilege."
If you remember Pee Wee's Playhouse (I know, I know), it was like when Chairy would give the word of the day and if someone would say it, Pee Wee and all of his friends would break out into disturbing maniacal laughter. Ok, maybe that's too critical. My point is that, every time I turned around, someone was using these terms. I'm quite sure that I eventually started using them, too . . . .
Rather than poke fun or somehow minimize the value of the terminology, I'll go ahead and put them to good use here in this post.
Many of us are on the constant lookout for our True Self. We want to know what it is we are supposed to be doing in this life. Our sense of vocation gets lost in the mix as we allow our ego to dictate what we are meant to be and do. Unfortunately, this only leads to cognitive dissonance and stress, but we'll get to that in another post.
One way that we can get an idea of our vocation is to look at the intersections. I propose that we can do this in two different ways that will lead to a much better sense of life and career purpose.
The first way that we can use the idea of intersectionality to find our vocation is to use Frederick Buechner's equation: "Vocation is where our deep gladness meets the world's deep need." Stop and ponder this for a moment. Where have you experienced great gladness? What were you doing when you felt an indescribable joy wherein you knew you were doing what you were meant to do or being who you were meant to be?
What about the world's deep need? What particular need do you keep encountering? Maybe it's the thing that keeps your stomach in knots at night when you're trying to sleep. Where does that need and your gladness intersect? If you can find that intersection, then you've found your vocation.
Next, lets look at the other way to look at intersectionality. Consider your skill set and talents for a moment. You have particular degrees, training, and skills that have equipped you to do certain things. You also have innate gifts that you are just naturally good at.
Think now about where all of these things intersect. If you can identify this intersection, then you have found the niche within your vocation. For example, I live by a mantra that goes something like this: My True Self is one who shepherds or sherpas others to the truest version of themselves.
This is also my vocation. Through coaching, preaching, speaking, and writing, I help others find their True Self. As far as my niche goes, I have an MBA, a Master of Divinity, a Master of Geriatrics, certificates and training in Appreciative Inquiry, Mindfulness, Conflict Transformation, etc. I have gifts of compassion, intuition, empathy, etc. So, what does this mean for me? I find the places where some or all of these things intersect to keep me focused on a few niches. Otherwise, I would drive myself crazy chasing every possibility down a rabbit hole. An example of one of these niches, then, is that I coach corporations on how to create programs that provide resources for their caregiver employees. After all, how can an organization be its truest self when it isn't caring for its own and how can an employee be his/her truest self when he/she is burned out with one foot out the door?
Ok, you've got the tools to begin this journey, so get on it! If you need some sherpa/shepherding along the way, well, you know where to find me.
Peace on the Journey,