When I was a junior in high school, I received a call one summer morning. Like any reasonable teenager, the 9:00 AM telephone ring jarred me from my deep, adolescent slumber. “May I speak to Jeremy?” the voice inquired, and then the lady on the other end went on to tell me that a spot was open for me to attend Governor’s School provided that I could be there that afternoon. Whether it was the foolishness of youth or the thick haze of sleep, I emphatically said “I’ll be there.”
When the call came, the “details” didn’t matter. My decision meant that I would have to quit my job, pack up my car with a month’s worth of stuff, and make a three-hour drive all within the next 8 hours. While I was originally “wait-listed” for the summer adventure, I was getting called up to attend this honorary program in a way that I never expected, and I had only one answer.
That summer changed the course of my life, but I had no idea the magnitude that summer morning. I just knew that I had been called up to an awesome experience, and I went. Three years later, I moved to the same city that hosted Governor’s School, bought a historic home, renovated it, and turned it into rental property through college. Then three years after that I met my wife. Although the path of marriage and entrepreneurship was not clear at the time, the trajectory of my life changed forever because I answered the call, made a decision and did something. As Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford commencement speech, I couldn’t connect the dots then, but now I see the connection points:
You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.
Whether the call is for a job, a speaking engagement, or something extraordinary, when it comes, you must be ready and willing to take the leap. This point resonated with me when I saw Aaron Draplin speak in Knoxville a few weeks ago. Despite receiving 5000% of my daily serving of the f-bomb, he planted a few things that rooted.
After designing for years, Draplin was asked to participate in the design of the Recovery.org logo. It’s not often that The White House calls a designer on the other end of the country, but when they called he dropped everything to meet the challenge. Draplin’s point:
“BE READY FOR WHEN THEY CALL YOU UP TO THE BIG LEAGUE”
Here is an excerpt at 24:15 - 29:08 of his experience. (note: there are a few f-bombs flying in this video.)
You don’t always know when the call will come, so be ready. This decision, however, may not connect all of the dots. At best, you may only see one step in front of you, which means you are left to make a leap of faith.
How do you decide when it’s “The Call?”
1. You know. When you get the call, there’s really no other answer. Sure, fear, anxiety and all of the details to work out, but when the big league is on the phone, you know immediately what to do. Answers are NOT shrouded in confusion. Act accordingly.
2. Sometimes the call seems like a wrong number. When Steve Jobs first talked to Woz about building the blue box dialer, the opportunity of one of the greatest innovation companies in history probably wasn’t on his mind. He had one step in front of him that he chose to take. In fact, at first, Woz probably thought the “dialer” was a wrong number.
3. Drop what you’re doing. There’s never a perfect time to “go,” and there never will be. If you know it’s the right decision, then drop what you’re doing and show up for the amazing opportunity.
4. Don’t look back. A good friend of mine is always the first to remind me, “hater’s gonna hate.” Truth. We generally abhor change, and we cannot fathom why anyone would do something to dramatically alter their life. Once you decide to go, take the leap and don’t look back.
5. Don’t wait for confirmation. More than likely, confirmation won’t come. We’re all very good at telling those around us why they are making a huge mistake, but we rarely encourage them into dramatic transformation. Make your decision and go.
6. This one’s not like the other. Sure, there may be lots of calls, but there are truly only a handful of big league calls in one’s life. Separate the signal from the noise and know the difference.
Pick up + Decide + Go
Several months ago, I created this short video about rock jumping. You can’t rock jump by always standing in the predictable footing of the rock you’re on, you have to leap, so when the opportunity comes, go. I’ve received a number of calls, but there have only been 3-4 that were truly the call.
How about you? Do you have a story about getting the call? I’d love to hear it.