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Answering Your Call: A Guide for Living Your Deepest Purpose

Answering Your Call: A Guide for Living Your Deepest Purpose

By John Schuster  (2003 – Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.)

In Short

Some people discover their true life purpose early, yet it’s not uncommon for this to unfold later in life. For some, it happens mid-career and leads to a major shift. For others, approaching retirement offers the time and space for reflection, exploration and discovery of their deepest purpose.

John Schuster explains that discovering your life purpose is not a linear process. It is highly individual and doesn’t just occur organically – or magically. it’s a result of thoughtful reflection and attentive listening to yourself – “your inner voice”. Schuster highlights that it’s equally important to know what not to listen to, such as the expectations of others (“the social noise”) and our own ego. Schuster demystifies how callings work and how people can tune in to them at different phases of life.

This is a book you’ll want to read, but it’s one that you’ll want to take your time with and engage with. The author provides thought-provoking questions and useful exercises as well as a concise summary at the end of each chapter. It’s one of those books that you’ll use, not just read.

Food for Thought

An interesting part of the book spotlights the roles that two types of characters play in our careers and lives – Saboteurs and Evocateurs. We can learn from both. The Saboteurs are inevitable. They distract you from your true calling. But they can play a vital part in testing you and sharpening your focus. They can be pivotal catalysts for growth – if you are listening.

In contrast, Evocateurs have a way of bringing out the best in people. They often see your potential and gifts before you do.

I came away thinking that we can clearly see the Saboteurs. They are often noisy, active and in your face – or behind your back. While it’s easy to recall special people, who have helped you, some Evocateurs are subtler and fleeting – and you need to be alert for them. Schuster provides strategies to “endure the Saboteurs” and to “embrace the gifts” from Evocatuers – and how to pass their lessons forward to the next generation.


We tend to think of callings as a dramatic bolt from the blue – a clear message that we were put on earth for a particular purpose (“I was born to be a professional skateboarder’’ one of my daughters suddenly announced to me at age 6). The author explains that sometimes there are obvious talents that lead people to a calling, but more often it’s a matter of listening to nuanced cues and discovering it over time. He recommends “reviewing your Call History” to see those cues more clearly. (Since we’re all tied to our phones these days, this is a skill we already know and can apply here in a different way).

A Kickstarter

Four questions to consider:

  • How close are you today to pursuing your true calling?
  • How have Saboteurs and Evocateurs impacted your career and life?
  • What can you do to pass forward the gifts you received from Evocateurs?
  • Who can you help discover their potential?

If you’re at – or approaching – a cross-roads, I’d highly recommend this book to guide your reflection and discovery process. It can be an invaluable resource if you’re considering a career change or transitioning to retirement.

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