Whistle While You Work

Heeding Your Life's Calling

Richard Leider (Author) | David Shapiro (Author)

Publication date: 01/01/2001

Bestseller over 70,000+ copies sold

Whistle While You Work

Practical advice and breakthrough exercieses help readers identify their callings and choose a way of life and work consistent with their gifts, passions, and values.

Everyone wants to live a life that enables them to make the most of their unique gifts, interests, and passions-to find their true calling, the work they were born to do. Whistle While You Work is a liberating guide that uses powerful stories and exercises to help readers find truly satisfying, fulfilling work consistent with their deepest values.

The authors combine a thoughtful and practical discussion about calling with examples showing how to apply these ideas to one's life. They mix in dozens of inspiring stories featuring individuals who have found, or are in the process of finding, their calling with straightforward advice and suggestions on how to discover one's calling. Most importantly, they provide readers with a solid path for embracing calling, a subject usually addressed abstractly in a useful, fun, and systematic way.

Through a unique Calling Card exercise that features a guided exploration of 52 "natural preferences" -- such as Advancing Ideas, Doing the Numbers, Building Relationships, Performing Events -- the book gives readers a new way to detect and reflect on the core of their life's work. By using this and other tools in the book, readers develop their own answers to three critical questions:
What gift do I naturally give to others?
What gift do I most enjoy giving to others?
What gift have I most often given to others?

In answering those questions, they will reveal to themselves their calling-and ultimately move toward new realms of success and fulfillment.

Whistle While You Work is an inspiring, effective, and entertaining approach to discovering one's calling. It will equip all of us with the mind-set, stories, coaching, and, perhaps most importantly, the hope we need to find our way ahead-and see a clear picture of what our right work is and what to do with our limited time here on Earth.

• Winner of the 2001 Career Book of the Year award from ForeWord Magazine
• By the authors of the international bestseller, Repacking Your Bags (more than 220,000 copies sold)
• Through practical advice and a breakthrough exercise-Calling Cards-helps readers identify their callings and choose a way of life and work consistent with their gifts, passions, and values
• Takes a challenging concept-calling-and makes it accessible and practical to our everyday lives
• Numerous real-life stories and examples offer hope that meaningful work is possible and within our grasp

Read more and meet author below

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Overview

Practical advice and breakthrough exercieses help readers identify their callings and choose a way of life and work consistent with their gifts, passions, and values.

Everyone wants to live a life that enables them to make the most of their unique gifts, interests, and passions-to find their true calling, the work they were born to do. Whistle While You Work is a liberating guide that uses powerful stories and exercises to help readers find truly satisfying, fulfilling work consistent with their deepest values.

The authors combine a thoughtful and practical discussion about calling with examples showing how to apply these ideas to one's life. They mix in dozens of inspiring stories featuring individuals who have found, or are in the process of finding, their calling with straightforward advice and suggestions on how to discover one's calling. Most importantly, they provide readers with a solid path for embracing calling, a subject usually addressed abstractly in a useful, fun, and systematic way.

Through a unique Calling Card exercise that features a guided exploration of 52 "natural preferences" -- such as Advancing Ideas, Doing the Numbers, Building Relationships, Performing Events -- the book gives readers a new way to detect and reflect on the core of their life's work. By using this and other tools in the book, readers develop their own answers to three critical questions:
What gift do I naturally give to others?
What gift do I most enjoy giving to others?
What gift have I most often given to others?

In answering those questions, they will reveal to themselves their calling-and ultimately move toward new realms of success and fulfillment.

Whistle While You Work is an inspiring, effective, and entertaining approach to discovering one's calling. It will equip all of us with the mind-set, stories, coaching, and, perhaps most importantly, the hope we need to find our way ahead-and see a clear picture of what our right work is and what to do with our limited time here on Earth.

• Winner of the 2001 Career Book of the Year award from ForeWord Magazine
• By the authors of the international bestseller, Repacking Your Bags (more than 220,000 copies sold)
• Through practical advice and a breakthrough exercise-Calling Cards-helps readers identify their callings and choose a way of life and work consistent with their gifts, passions, and values
• Takes a challenging concept-calling-and makes it accessible and practical to our everyday lives
• Numerous real-life stories and examples offer hope that meaningful work is possible and within our grasp

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Richard Leider

Richard Leider, founder of Inventure – The Purpose Company, is one of America’s preeminent executive-life coaches.  He is ranked by Forbes as one of the “Top 5” most respected executive coaches, and by the Conference Board as a “legend in coaching.”  

Richard’s ten books, including three best sellers, have sold over one million copies and have been translated into 20 languages.  Repacking Your Bags and The Power of Purpose are considered classics in the personal development field.  Richard’s “inventures” in writing books have taken him to events with readers in all 50 states, every Canadian province, and 15 countries.

As co-author of Life Reimagined, he is the Chief Curator of content for AARP’s Life Reimagined Institute.  Widely viewed as a visionary and thought leader on the “power of purpose”, his work is featured regularly in many media sources including, PBS public television, and NPR public radio.  He is featured in the PBS Special – The Power of Purpose.

As a keynote speaker, he is one of a select few advisors and coaches who have been asked to work with over 100,000 leaders from over 100 organizations such as AARP, Ericsson, Mayo Clinic, MetLife, National Football League (NFL), and United Health Group discover the power of purpose.

Richard holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is a National Certified Counselor (NCC), a National Certified Career Counselor (NCCC), and a National Certified Master Career Counselor (MCC).  As a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing, he founded The Purpose Project.  He is co-chairman and dean of the World Purpose Forum, co-chairman of the Linkage/Global Institute for Leadership Development, and a member of the Council of Senior Advisors of the FRED Leadership Forum.  He is also a board member of Youth Frontiers, and Life Coach in Residence at The Marsh: A Center for Balance and Fitness.

He is a contributing author to many coaching books, including:  Coaching for Leadership, The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching, Executive Coaching for Results, The Leader of the Future, and The Organization of the Future.

Richard’s work has been recognized with awards from the Bush Foundation, from which he was awarded a Bush Fellowship and the Fielding Institute’s Outstanding Scholar for Creative Longevity and Wisdom award.

For 30 years, Richard has led Inventure Expedition walking safaris in Tanzania, East Africa, where he co-founded and is a board member of the Dorobo Fund for Tanzania.  He and his wife, Sally, live on the St. Croix river outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota.



Visit Author Page - David Shapiro

David A. Shapiro is the Education Director of the Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children, a non-profit organization that brings philosophy into the lives of young people in schools and community groups.

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Table of Contents




Introduction: If You Can't Get Out of It, Get Into It!

1. What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

2. What Is My Calling Card?

3. Gifts: Is My Job My Calling?

4. Passions: What Keeps Me Calling?

5. Values: Where Do I Make the Connection?

6. How Do I Heed the Call?

7. Legacy: Did I Answer the Call?

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Excerpt

whistle while

Introduction
if you can’t get out of it, get into it!

Look around: How many people do you know who are living their lives on hold, just biding time until the right job comes along that will magically fulfill all their hopes and dreams?

Look within: How often do you find yourself longing for “something more,” fantasizing about suddenly getting the perfect job, relationship, or living situation?

Look again: How many of us feel trapped? How many see no escape from jobs and lives we never chose?

Dick has seen firsthand how people get stuck in situations that they feel are inescapable. He recalls an incident that showed him what we believe is the only way out.

Africa—at last!

image

I have always dreamed of coming here. And now, I’ve finally made it, invited by Derek Pritchard, Executive Director of the Voyageur Outward Bound School, and former director of the Kenya Outward Bound school on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Derek is leading a group of seasoned outdoorspeople—Outward Bound leaders and board members—on this East African adventure. Little do I know that the real excitement and growth on our trip will be the inner journey—the “inventure.”

We are taking a route that probably should not be taken—it is that challenging. But this group wants to “push the envelope,” to have an authentic wilderness experience. And so, we find ourselves with full backpacks in a remote area along the eastern edge of the Serengeti Plains, climbing up from the Rift Valley—scrambling along the great rift itself— as we make our way forward under the brutal African sun. Our goal is to hike across the Salei Plain to the Ngorongoro crater where we will meet the truck that left us several days ago. None of us have taken this route before; it is new even to our Masai guide. And so, we are unsure of what lies ahead, nervous about our limited water supplies holding out.

Animals are everywhere; their screeches, growls, and yelps are a constant counterpoint to our own sounds of labored breathing and heavy footfalls. There are ten people in our group—men and women—and we are mostly silent, conserving our energy for the trek ahead. Our thoughts do not stray far from the experience at hand; ancient fears of the wild and savage continent lie just beneath the surface for us all.

And at the moment we have good reason to be on edge. We are hiking through tall grass that obscures our view beyond just a few paces. It is called, appropriately enough, “lion grass,” because it is a favorite habitat of lions on a hunt. They hunker down in the dry stalks to hide from their prey, ready to spring when an unsuspecting animal comes across their line of sight.

Our group is spread out in a line behind our guide. I am near the rear, taking my time, trying to experience each moment of our trip as fully as I can. The only other member of our brigade that I can see—and I glimpse him only occasionally through the tall grass—is a man I’ll call “Tom,” a fairly experienced hiker, an Outward Bound board member, who in the “real world” is an extremely successful New York City attorney. Tom is on his first trip to Africa, too, and seems even more blown away by the experience than I am. He has certainly prepared well for the journey; his gear is brand-new and of the highest quality. If nothing else, he certainly looks the part of the intrepid African explorer.

Suddenly, though, out of the corner of my eye, I see him freeze. He stands, still as a statue, then sits down heavily, the tall stalks swallowing him up from my view. I swim through the grass to where he now sits. As I come upon him, he is trembling.

“Lion,” he whispers, pointing off into the distance behind us. I scan the area where he is pointing but can’t see anything. “Lion,” says Tom again, his eyes saucering.

Still unable to see anything, I try to get Tom to move, but he won’t budge. He is paralyzed with fear. Leaving Tom, I rush ahead to our group and fetch Derek. He tells our guide to hold up the march and returns to Tom with me, who is still sitting where he was, shaking like a leaf.

Derek, an Englishman, questions Tom with the stereotypical straightforwardness of the classic British explorer. “What it is, old chap? You can’t sit out here in the sun all day, you know.”

Derek’s right. It’s late afternoon; the temperature is well over 100 degrees. Even standing still, we can feel the sweat pouring off our bodies. Tom just purses his lips and stares into space.

“Dick tells me you saw a lion. Not surprising, really.” Derek brushes a clump of the tall grass with the back of his hand. “They call this stuff lion grass after all, don’t you know?”

Tom is not amused. He shakes his head and mutters something.

Derek leans closer to the sitting man. “What’s that?” he asks.

Tom is silent a moment and then repeats himself. “This is insane.”

“I’m not sure I’d go that far,” replies Derek, assuming Tom is talking about his reaction. “But I would agree that it’s not the most useful response to seeing ‘Simba’ in the bush.”

The mentioning the lion again seems to send shivers through Tom’s body and loosen his tongue. “No. It’s us. Here. This is crazy. Too dangerous. We shouldn’t be here.”

“Well, be that as it may,” says Derek, “we ARE here. And there’s only one way out—the way we’re headed.”

“I’m not going,” insists Tom. “No way. No.”

Tom’s intransigence has brought home the seriousness of the situation not only to Derek and me but also to the rest of the group, who have filtered back and are now standing near us in various states of concern and disbelief. They are wondering whether our expedition will—or should—continue.

Derek tries reasoning with Tom. “Listen, old chap, you can’t just sit here. It will be getting dark soon and if we don’t find a camp near water tonight we’ll all be in serious trouble tomorrow. Lions or no lions.”

“I just want out of here,” says Tom. “I want to go back.”

Derek reminds Tom that we’ve already come two days’ walk from where the truck dropped us off. And besides, it’s no longer there. At present, it should be making its way in a big semi-circle to where we plan to rendezvous next week. “There’s nothing to go back to, Tom,” says Derek, rather mildly.

“I just want out,” repeats Tom. “Out of this. Right now.”

Derek kneels down next to the group. He speaks to Tom, but what he says is clearly meant for us all. “Tom, you can’t get out of it. There’s no getting out—this is what it is.” He pauses a moment and then continues, louder, as if announcing to everyone: “We have a motto at Outward Bound precisely for this sort of situation: ‘If you can’t get out of it, get into it!’”

Derek’s words have an immediate impact on the entire group—Tom included. “If you can’t get out of it, get into it!” When there’s no way out of a situation, there’s only one thing to do: get into it.

At that point we realize that we’re in so deep that our only recourse is to dive even deeper. Our situation is inescapable and so, instead of trying to escape it, we must embrace it. To get out of it, we have to get into it.

And so, we do.

After only a few words, the group decides to press on. We realize that heading back to where we came from is not an option; our only way out is to get into it.

Derek’s motto becomes our group’s mantra for the rest of the trip. We face other near-crises in the days ahead, but with each one, we accept that the only way around it is through it. By the end of our trek, we need only give each other a look which says it all: “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.”

In the years since that first trip to Africa, Derek’s words have come back to me often. The motto never fails to create a shift in my perspective. I have been involved in wilderness experiences—whether in the plains of Africa, the mountains of Colorado, or even the boardrooms of corporate America—and whenever I find myself or my group becoming stuck, I am reminded of this simple truth: “If you can’t get out of it, get into it.”


We recall these words now because we see so many people who are “stuck” in their current career situation. They want out of where they are. They fantasize about winning the lottery, about becoming a millionaire, about meeting someone who will hire them and solve all their problems, about space aliens making contact with humanity and changing the entire world as we know it. In short, they fantasize about getting out of it.

But the simple fact is this: there is no getting out of it. The difficulties and dissatisfactions of work are only met in one way: head on. If we want to get out of our current situation, if we want to experience real joy in our work, there’s only one thing to do: get into it.

And for us that means getting into the process of hearing and heeding our calling.

So then, let’s get into it.


The Call

Calling is the inner urge to give our gifts away. We heed that call when we offer our gifts in service to something we are passionate about in an environment that is consistent with our core values.

Considering the concept of “calling” metaphorically, one of the great success stories is the telephone. What else comes so quickly to mind when we think of hearing a call?

The story of the telephone’s success depends in no small part upon its simplicity. The fact that it doesn’t (or at least historically didn’t) require a number of complex steps to operate has made the telephone accessible to everyone. People with little or no technological sophistication are easily able to make and receive calls. The simplicity of the telephone has given people everywhere access to connections. Had it not been so easy to use, it’s unlikely that its impact would have been felt so powerfully today.

As explorers of a different concept of “calling,” we also hold simplicity in high regard. It’s our belief that the message of calling is best presented in a manner that is straightforward and uncomplicated. It ought to be as easy to use as the telephone.

Thus, we would like to dial in four guiding principles of calling:


  1. The Call comes from a Caller.
    • Each and every one of us is called. Where does the call come from? There is no calling without a Caller. Calling is an inherently spiritual concept that challenges us to see our work in relation to our deepest beliefs. The concept of calling is founded on the recognition that we are all born with God-given gifts to fulfill specific purposes on earth. Our calling emanates from a Source much larger and more powerful than we are. No one fully understands all that is “hardwired” into newborns, but it is clear that we come into the world already endowed with unique gifts. These gifts have the potential to enrich our lives immeasurably if they are unwrapped and given away. And yet, calling is not revealed to us automatically at birth. Heeding our calling requires an effort on our part. It is an effort, though, that can be performed almost effortlessly. Quite simply, we must listen. We must choose to hear what summons us. We must open ourselves to that inner urge to share our gifts with the world in a meaningful way. When we are clear about our life’s calling—when we have heard the call and can heed it—our full potential for joyful work can be realized.
  2. The Call keeps calling.
    • Calling is revealed to different people at different times in different ways; it may not come to us in a time or a form we expect. And yet we become aware of it in consistent themes that run through our lives: those things we remain passionate about, the work that we continue to believe needs doing in the world. Discovering our calling is a process that has stages, much like the process by which we learned to walk. Each stage—rolling over, crawling, walking, running—had to be experienced in turn. Likewise, we move from jobs which pay the bills, to careers which help us grow, to callings which give us meaning. All three—job, career, and calling— are related, but at different levels and stages. And the common theme that ties them together is the gradual revelation of our calling over time.
  3. The Call is personal.
    • There are as many callings in the world as there are people on the planet. This isn’t to say that other people might not do the same things we do or that they can’t be passionate about the identical issues that compel us. It does, however, mean that each of us is called directly; no one else is called to do the same things we are in the same manner we are. Our calling is our embedded destiny; it is the seed of our identity. The emphasis here is on being. We express calling not only through the work we do, but more importantly, through who we are willing to be in our work. Heeding our calling involves a conscious choice to be ourselves—to uncover in the here and now our God-given nature. Our calling is like our signature or thumbprint, uniquely ours. Heeding our calling means we realize that we are here to contribute to life on earth something that no one else can contribute in quite the same way.
  4. The Call is long-distance.
    • Heeding our calling is a deliberate choice to use our gifts to serve others and make a difference in the world. Our calling is made manifest through service to others. We come alive when our efforts make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s paradoxical but true: we are more likely to receive the satisfaction and fulfillment we seek when we enable others to achieve the satisfaction and fulfillment they seek. When what we do is grounded in a sense of calling, we experience a special joy—a whistle—in our work. As a result, we are even more willing and able to give our gifts. We are in it, then, for the long-term; the overall meaning of our lives is revealed though the long-term expression of our calling. Calling is thus the active source of our legacy.

These four guiding principles represent the essence of our message about calling. Of course, there’s much more to be said about how calling is revealed to us and the ways we can bring a heightened sense of calling into our lives and work, but the basic idea is quite basic—as we hope to show in the following chapters.

In Chapter 1: What Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up? we provide a framework for reflection upon a question we all need to revisit sooner or later. We also explore how our answers contribute to our fulfillment on the job—that is, the degree to which they put a whistle in our work.

Chapter 2: What Is My Calling Card? features the “Calling Card” exercise, a powerful interactive way of developing a clear sense of one’s calling. Once we discover the “golden thread”—our embedded destiny—we can then begin to examine it in light of our current or future work.

Chapter 3: Gifts—Is My Job My Calling? asks us to think about the work we were doing the last time we were so absorbed that we lost all track of time. This provides us with a way to explore the gifts component of calling. We also begin to look at ways in which people can take charge of their current work lives in order to express their calling. This is intended to illustrate that heeding our calling does not necessarily mean that we change jobs; another alternative is to change the job we have.

Chapter 4: Passions—What Keeps Calling Me? explores the passion component of calling. Passions are the specific questions that obsess us constantly; they are the particular issues, interests, and problems that attract us—at work, in our lives, and with the people around us. Understanding our passions gives us insight into the many arenas where we can put our gifts to work.

Chapter 5: Values—Where Do I Make the Connection? gets at the value component of calling by exploring calling in a wider context than just on the job. Values frame the sort of environment in which we are most likely to flourish. Consequently, this chapter offers guidance and direction for figuring out what environments we’re mostly likely to thrive in.

Chapter 6: How Do I Heed the Call? centers around an exploration of the challenges associated with heeding our calling. We share many examples of how people have dealt with the frustration of hearing a “busy signal” when trying to connect with their calling. This broadens the discussion of calling, and helps us to keep listening in spite of the inevitable missed connections we all experience.

Chapter 7: Legacy—Did I Answer the Call? explores the legacy we leave through the choices we make around calling. What do we want our lives to have been about? How do we want to be remembered? Who will we see when we look back upon ourselves? In this chapter, readers will have an opportunity to reflect on others’ stories to draw lessons for their own lives and legacies.

Through these chapters, we hope to provide a process for readers to hear and heed their own unique calling. Ultimately, the discovery of calling is about connecting who we are and what we do. So our own exploration of calling can perhaps best begin by connecting with the question that, for most of us, is the source of our current experience: “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

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Endorsements




"We all spend too much time, exert too much effort, and put too much energy into our work not to have it matter. Put simply, here's a book that will help you make sure that your work matters-to you and to others. Don't just read it; take it to heart."

—Alan Webber, Founding Editor, Fast Company magazine

"This book inspires us to remember that the essence of every calling is a summons to serve."

—Walter F. Mondale, former Vice President of the United States

"This book is music to your soul."

—Bob Rosner, author of Working Wounded and The Bosses Complete Survival Guide, and syndicated columnist

"As I read Dick and David's new book, I whistled...because they captured me, as they have before with their Preface! And they kept me captured throughout their entire book. They gave me new ways to think, ideas to ponder, action items to move on, and they made me smile. Thank you!"

—Beverly Kaye, coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

Whistle While You Work explicitly calls to our attention the paradox which all of us have experienced (if we bother to learn from our experiences), and that is "selfishness" and "selflessness" become one and the same. Selfishly we all want satisfaction and fulfillment in our lives, but we can only achieve that selfish end through selflessly making a difference in other people's lives. Whistle helps us discover the calling that will lead us to consciously experiencing the paradox. As with Repacking Your Bags, there is no question Dick and Dave have another hit on their hands."

—Doug Lennick, Executive Vice President, American Express Financial Advisors

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