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B. For Yoky Matsuoka, childhood was a period of confusion and blur. Growing up in Japan in the 1970s, everything seemed laid out for her in advance. The school system would funnel her into a field that was appropriate for girls, and the possibilities were rather narrow. Her parents, believing in the importance of sports in her development, pushed her into competitive swimming at a very early age. They also had her take up the piano. For other children in Japan it may have been comforting to have their lives directed in such a fashion, but for Yoky it was painful. She was interested in all kinds of subjects—particularly math and science. She liked sports but not swimming. She had no idea what she wanted to become or how she could possibly fit into such a regimented world.

At the age of eleven she finally asserted herself. She had had enough of swimming and wanted to take up tennis. Her parents agreed to her wishes. Being intensely competitive, she had great dreams for herself as a tennis player, but she was starting out in the sport rather late in life. To make up for lost time she would have to undergo an almost impossibly rigorous practice schedule. She traveled outside Tokyo for training and so would do her homework on the ride back at night. Often having to stand up in the crowded car, she would crack open her math and physics books and work out the equations. She loved solving puzzles, and in doing this homework her mind would become so completely absorbed in the problems that she was barely aware of the time passing. In a strange way, it was similar to the sensation she felt on the tennis court—a deep focus where nothing could distract her.

In the few free moments on the train Yoky would think about her future. Science and sports were the two great interests in her life. In them she could express all of the different sides of her character—her love of competing, working with her hands, moving gracefully, analyzing and solving problems. In Japan you had to choose a career that was generally quite specialized. Whatever she chose would require sacrificing her other interests, which depressed her to no end. One day she daydreamed about inventing a robot that could play tennis with her. Inventing and playing against such a robot would satisfy all of the different sides of her character, but it was only a dream.

Although she had risen through the ranks to become one of the top tennis prospects in Japan, she quickly realized that this was not to be her future. In practice, no one could beat her, but in competition she would often freeze up, overthink the situation, and lose to inferior players. She also suffered some debilitating injuries. She would have to focus on academics and not on sports. After attending a tennis academy in Florida, she convinced her parents to let her stay in the States and apply to the University of California at Berkeley.

At Berkeley she could not decide on a major—nothing seemed to quite fit her wide-ranging interests. For lack of anything better, she settled on electrical engineering. One day she confided to a professor in her department about her youthful dream to build a robot to play tennis with her. Much to her surprise the professor did not laugh, but instead invited her to join his graduate lab for robotics. Her work there showed so much promise that she was later admitted to graduate school at MIT, where she joined the artificial-intelligence lab of robotics pioneer Rodney Brooks. They were developing a robot with artificial intelligence, and Matsuoka volunteered to design the hand and arms.

Ever since she was a child she had pondered her own hands while she was playing tennis or the piano or while scribbling out math equations. The human hand was a miracle of design. Although this was not exactly sports, she would be working with her hands to construct the hand. Finding at last something that suited a larger range of her interests, she worked night and day on building a new kind of robotic limb, one that possessed as much as possible the delicate grasping power of the human hand. Her design dazzled Brooks—it was years ahead of anything anyone had ever developed.

Feeling that there was a critical lack in her knowledge, she decided to gain an additional degree in neuroscience. If she could better understand the connection between the hand and the brain, she could design a prosthetic limb that would feel and respond like a human hand. She continued this process, adding new fields of science to her résumé, culminating in the creation of a completely new field, one that she would dub neurobotics—the design of robots that possessed simulated versions of human neurology, bringing them closer to life itself. Forging this field would bring her great success in science and put her in the ultimate position of power—the ability to freely combine all of her interests.

The career world is like an ecological system: People occupy particular fields within which they must compete for resources and survival. The more people there are crowded into a space, the harder it becomes to thrive there. Working in such a field will tend to wear you out as you struggle to get attention, to play the political games, to win scarce resources for yourself. You spend so much time at these games that you have little time left over for true mastery. You are seduced into such fields because you see others there making a living, treading the familiar path. You are not aware of how difficult such a life can be.

The game you want to play is different: to instead find a niche in the ecology that you can dominate. It is never a simple process to find such a niche. It requires patience and a particular strategy. In the beginning you choose a field that roughly corresponds to your interests (medicine, electrical engineering). From there you can go in one of two directions. The first is the Ramachandran path. From within your chosen field, you look for side paths that particularly attract you (in his case the science of perception and optics). When it is possible, you make a move to this narrower field. You continue this process until you eventually hit upon a totally unoccupied niche, the narrower the better. In some ways, this niche corresponds to your uniqueness, much as Ramachandran’s particular form of neurology corresponds to his own primal sense of feeling like an exception.

The second is the Matsuoka path. Once you have mastered your first field (robotics), you look for other subjects or skills that you can conquer (neuroscience), on your own time if necessary. You can now combine this added field of knowledge to the original one, perhaps creating a new field, or at least making novel connections between them. You continue this process as long as you wish—in Matsuoka’s case, she never stops expanding. Ultimately you create a field that is uniquely your own. This second version fits in well with a culture where information is so widely available, and in which connecting ideas is a form of power.

In either direction, you have found a niche that is not crowded with competitors. You have freedom to roam, to pursue particular questions that interest you. You set your own agenda and command the resources available to this niche. Unburdened by overwhelming competition and politicking, you have time and space to bring to flower your Life’s Task.

  1. Avoid the false path—The rebellion strategy

In 1760, at the age of four, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart took up the piano under his father’s instruction. It was Wolfgang who asked to start lessons at this precocious age; his sister, age seven, had already started on the instrument. Perhaps it was partly out of sibling rivalry that he had taken such initiative, seeing the attention and love that his sister received for her playing and wanting it for himself.

After the first few months of practice, his father, Leopold—a talented player, composer, and teacher himself—could see that Wolfgang was exceptional. Most strange for his age, the boy loved to practice; at night his parents had to drag him away from the piano. He began to compose his own pieces at the age of five. Soon, Leopold took this prodigy and his sister on the road to perform in all the capitals of Europe. Wolfgang dazzled the royal audiences for whom he performed. He played with assurance and could improvise all kinds of clever melodies. He was like a precious toy. The father was now earning a nice income for the family, as more and more courts wanted to see the child genius in action.

As the patriarch of the family, Leopold demanded total obedience from his children, even though it was now young Wolfgang who was essentially supporting them all. Wolfgang willingly submitted—he owed everything to his father. But as he entered adolescence something else stirred within him. Was it playing the piano that he enjoyed, or simply attracting all of this attention? He felt confused. After so many years composing music he was finally developing his own style, and yet his father insisted that he focus on writing the more conventional pieces that pleased the royal audiences and brought the family money. The city of Salzburg, where they lived, was provincial and bourgeois. In general, he yearned for something else, to be on his own. With each passing year, Wolfgang felt increasingly stifled.

Finally, in 1777, the father allowed Wolfgang—now twenty-one—to leave for Paris, accompanied by his mother. There he must try to gain a prominent position as conductor, so that he could continue supporting his family. But Wolfgang did not find Paris to his liking. The jobs he was offered seemed beneath his talents. And then his mother fell ill while there and died on the way back home. The trip was a disaster in all possible ways. Wolfgang returned to Salzburg, chastened and prepared to submit to his father’s will. He accepted a rather uninteresting position as the court organist, but he could not completely suppress his unease. He despaired of spending his life in this mediocre position, writing music to please these petty provincials. At one point, he wrote his father: “I am a composer…. I neither can nor ought to bury the talent for composition with which God in his goodness has so richly endowed me.” Leopold reacted to these increasingly frequent complaints of his son with anger, reminding him of the debt he owed him for all of the training he had received and the expenses the father had incurred in their endless travels. Finally, in a flash, it came to Wolfgang: it was never really the piano that was his love, nor even music per se. He did not enjoy performing before others like a puppet. It was composing that he was destined for; but more than that, he had an intense love for the theater. He wanted to compose operas—that was his true voice. He would never realize this if he remained in Salzburg. It was his father who represented more than an obstacle; he was in fact ruining his life, his health, his confidence. It was not just about money; his father was actually jealous of his son’s talents, and whether consciously or not, he was trying to stifle his progress. Wolfgang had to take a step, however painful, before it was too late.

On a trip to Vienna in 1781, Wolfgang made the fateful decision to stay. He would never return to Salzburg. As if Wolfgang had broken some great taboo, his father could never forgive him for this; his son had abandoned the family. The rift between them would never be repaired. Feeling that he had lost so much time under his father’s thumb, Wolfgang composed at a furious pace, his most famous operas and compositions pouring out of him as if he were possessed.

A false path in life is generally something we are attracted to for the wrong reasons—money, fame, attention, and so on. If it is attention we need, we often experience a kind of emptiness inside that we are hoping to fill with the false love of public approval. Because the field we choose does not correspond with our deepest inclinations, we rarely find the fulfillment that we crave. Our work suffers for this, and the attention we may have gotten in the beginning starts to fade—a painful process. If it is money and comfort that dominate our decision, we are most often acting out of anxiety and the need to please our parents. They may steer us toward something lucrative out of care and concern, but lurking underneath this can be something else—perhaps a bit of envy that we have more freedom than they had when they were young.

Your strategy must be twofold: first, to realize as early as possible that you have chosen your career for the wrong reasons, before your confidence takes a hit. And second, to actively rebel against those forces that have pushed you away from your true path. Scoff at the need for attention and approval—they will lead you astray. Feel some anger and resentment at the parental forces that want to foist upon you an alien vocation. It is a healthy part of your development to follow a path independent of your parents and to establish your own identity. Let your sense of rebellion fill you with energy and purpose. If it is the father figure, the Leopold Mozart, that is blocking your path, you must slay him and clear the way.

  1. Let go of the past—The adaptation strategy

From the time he was born in 1960, Freddie Roach was groomed to be a boxing champion. His father had been a professional fighter himself, and his mother a boxing judge. Freddie’s older brother began learning the sport at an early age, and when Freddie was six he was promptly taken to the local gym in south Boston to begin a rigorous apprenticeship in the sport. He trained with a coach several hours a day, six days a week.

By the age of fifteen he felt like he was burned out. He made more and more excuses to avoid going to the gym. One day his mother sensed this and said to him, “Why do you fight anyway? You just get hit all the time. You can’t fight.” He was used to the constant criticism from his father and brothers, but to hear such a frank assessment from his mother had a bracing effect. Clearly, she saw his older brother as the one destined for greatness. Now Freddie determined that he would somehow prove her wrong. He returned to his training regimen with a vengeance. He discovered within himself a passion for practice and discipline. He enjoyed the sensation of getting better, the trophies that began to pile up, and, more than anything, the fact that he could now actually beat his brother. His love for the sport was rekindled.

As Freddie now showed the most promise of the brothers, his father took him to Las Vegas to help further his career. There, at the age of eighteen, he met the legendary coach Eddie Futch and began to train under him. It all looked very promising—he was chosen for the United States boxing team and began to climb up the ranks. Before long, however, he hit another wall. He would learn the most effective maneuvers from Futch and practice them to perfection, but in an actual bout it was another story. As soon as he got hit in the ring, he would revert to fighting instinctually; his emotions would get the better of him. His fights would turn into brawls over many rounds, and he would often lose.

After a few years, Futch told Roach it was time to retire. But boxing had been his whole life; retire and do what? He continued to fight and to lose, until finally he could see the writing on the wall and retired. He took a job in telemarketing and began to drink heavily. Now he hated the sport—he had given it so much and had nothing to show for his efforts. Almost in spite of himself, one day he returned to Futch’s gym to watch his friend Virgil Hill spar with a boxer about to fight for a title. Both fighters trained under Futch, but there was nobody in Hill’s corner helping him, so Freddie brought him water and gave him advice. He showed up the following day to help Hill again, and soon became a regular at Futch’s gym. He was not being paid, so he kept his telemarketing job, but something in him smelled opportunity—and he was desperate. He showed up on time and stayed later than anyone else. Knowing Futch’s techniques so well, he could teach them to all of the fighters. His responsibilities began to grow.

In the back of his mind he could not shake his resentment of boxing, and he questioned how long he could keep this up. It was a dog-eat-dog career and trainers rarely lasted very long in the business. Would this turn into yet another routine in which he would endlessly repeat the same exercises he had learned from Futch? A part of him yearned to return to fighting—at least fighting was not so predictable.

One day Virgil Hill showed him a technique he had picked up from some Cuban fighters: Instead of working with a punching bag, they mostly trained with the coach, who wore large padded mitts. Standing in the ring, the fighters half-sparred with the coach and practiced their punches. Roach tried it with Hill and his eyes lit up. It brought him back into the ring, but there was something else. Boxing, he felt, had become stale, as had its training methods. In his mind, he saw a way to adapt the mitt work for more than just punching practice. It could be a way for a trainer to devise an entire strategy in the ring and demonstrate it to his fighter in real time. It could revolutionize and revitalize the sport itself. Roach began to develop this with the stable of fighters that he now trained. He instructed them in maneuvers that were much more fluid and strategic.

Soon he left Futch to work on his own. He quickly established a reputation for preparing his boxers better than anyone else, and within a few years he rose to become the most successful trainer of his generation.

In dealing with your career and its inevitable changes, you must think in the following way: You are not tied to a particular position; your loyalty is not to a career or a company. You are committed to your Life’s Task, to giving it full expression. It is up to you to find it and guide it correctly. It is not up to others to protect or help you. You are on your own. Change is inevitable, particularly in such a revolutionary moment as ours. Since you are on your own, it is up to you to foresee the changes going on right now in your profession. You must adapt your Life’s Task to these circumstances. You do not hold on to past ways of doing things, because that will ensure you will fall behind and suffer for it. You are flexible and always looking to adapt.

If change is forced upon you, as it was for Freddie Roach, you must resist the temptation to overreact or feel sorry for yourself. Roach instinctively found his way back to the ring because he understood that what he loved was not boxing per se, but competitive sports and strategizing. Thinking in this way, he could adapt his inclinations to a new direction within boxing. Like Roach, you don’t want to abandon the skills and experience you have gained, but to find a new way to apply them. Your eye is on the future, not the past. Often such creative readjustments lead to a superior path for us—we are shaken out of our complacency and forced to reassess where we are headed. Remember: your Life’s Task is a living, breathing organism. The moment you rigidly follow a plan set in your youth, you lock yourself into a position, and the times will ruthlessly pass you by.

  1. Find your way back—The life-or-death strategy

As a very young child Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983) knew that he experienced the world differently than others. He was born with extreme nearsightedness. Everything around him was a blur, and so his other senses developed to compensate for this—particularly touch and smell. Even after he was prescribed glasses at the age of five, he continued to perceive the world around him with more than just his eyes. He had a tactile form of intelligence.

Fuller was an extremely resourceful child. He once invented a new kind of oar to help propel him across the lakes in Maine where he spent his summers delivering mail. Its design was modeled after the motion of jellyfish, which he had observed and studied. He could envision the dynamics of their movement with more than his eyes—he felt the movement. He reproduced this motion in his newfangled oar and it functioned beautifully. During such summers he would dream of other interesting inventions—these would be his life’s work, his destiny.

Being different, however, had its painful side. He had no patience for the usual forms of education. Although he was very bright and had been admitted to Harvard University, he could not adapt to its strict style of learning. He skipped classes, began to drink, and led a rather bohemian lifestyle. The officials at Harvard expelled him twice—the second time for good.

After that he bounced from job to job. He worked at a meatpacking plant and then, during World War I, he secured a good position in the navy. He had an incredible feel for machines and how their parts worked in concert. But he was restless, and could not stay too long in one place. After the war he had a wife and child to support, and despairing of ever being able to care for them properly, he decided to take a high-paying position as a sales manager. He worked hard, did a decent job, but after three months the company folded. He had found the work extremely unsatisfying, but it seemed that such jobs were all he could expect from life.

Finally, a few months later, a chance appeared out of nowhere. His father-in-law had invented a way of producing materials for houses that would end up making them more durable and better insulated, and at a much lower cost. But the father could not find investors or anyone willing to help him set up a business. Fuller thought his idea brilliant. He had always been interested in housing and architecture, and so he offered to take charge of implementing this new technology. He put everything he could into the effort and was even able to improve on the materials to be used. Fuller’s father-in-law supported his work, and together they formed the Stockade Building System. Money from investors, mostly family members, allowed them to open factories. The company struggled—the technology was too new and radical, and Fuller was too much of a purist to compromise his desire to revolutionize the construction industry. After five years the company was sold and Fuller was fired as president.

Now the situation looked bleaker than ever. The family had been living well in Chicago on his salary, beyond its means. In those five years he had not managed to save anything. Winter was approaching and his prospects for work seemed very slim—his reputation was in tatters. One evening he walked along Lake Michigan and thought of his life up until then. He had disappointed his wife, and he had lost money for his father-in-law and his friends who had invested in the enterprise. He was useless at business and a burden to everyone. Finally he decided upon suicide as the best option. He would drown himself in the lake. He had a good insurance policy, and his wife’s family would take better care of her than he had been able to. As he walked toward the water, he mentally prepared himself for death.

Suddenly something stopped him in his tracks—what he would describe later as a voice, coming from nearby or perhaps from within him. It said, “From now on you need never await temporal attestation to your thought. You think the truth. You do not have the right to eliminate yourself. You do not belong to you. You belong to Universe. Your significance will remain forever obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experiences to the highest advantage of others.” Never having heard voices before, Fuller could only imagine it as something real. Stunned by these words, he turned away from the water and headed home.

On the way there he began to ponder the words and to reassess his life, now in a different light. Perhaps what he had perceived moments earlier as his mistakes were not mistakes at all. He had tried to fit into a world (business) in which he did not belong. The world was telling him this if he only listened. The Stockade experience was not all a waste—he had learned some invaluable lessons about human nature. He should have no regrets. The truth was that he was different. In his mind he imagined all kinds of inventions—new kinds of cars, houses, building structures—that reflected his unusual perceptual skills. It struck him, as he looked around at row after row of apartment housing on his way back, that people suffered more from sameness, from the inability to think of doing things differently, than from nonconformity.

He swore that from that moment on he would listen to nothing except his own experience, his own voice. He would create an alternative way of making things that would open people’s eyes to new possibilities. The money would eventually come. Whenever he thought of money first, disaster followed. He would take care of his family, but they would have to live frugally for the moment.

Over the years, Fuller kept to this promise. The pursuit of his peculiar ideas led to the design of inexpensive and energy-efficient forms of transportation and shelter (the Dymaxion car and Dymaxion house), and to the invention of the geodesic dome—a whole new form of architectural structure. Fame and money soon followed.

No good can ever come from deviating from the path that you were destined to follow. You will be assailed by varieties of hidden pain. Most often you deviate because of the lure of money, of more immediate prospects of prosperity. Because this does not comply with something deep within you, your interest will lag and eventually the money will not come so easily. You will search for other easy sources of money, moving further and further away from your path. Not seeing clearly ahead of you, you will end up in a dead-end career. Even if your material needs are met, you will feel an emptiness inside that you will need to fill with any kind of belief system, drugs, or diversions. There is no compromise here, no way of escaping the dynamic. You will recognize how far you have deviated by the depth of your pain and frustration. You must listen to the message of this frustration, this pain, and let it guide you as clearly as Fuller’s voice guided him. It is a matter of life and death.

The way back requires a sacrifice. You cannot have everything in the present. The road to mastery requires patience. You will have to keep your focus on five or ten years down the road, when you will reap the rewards of your efforts. The process of getting there, however, is full of challenges and pleasures. Make your return to the path a resolution you set for yourself, and then tell others about it. It becomes a matter of shame and embarrassment to deviate from this path. In the end, the money and success that truly last come not to those who focus on such things as goals, but rather to those who focus on mastery and fulfilling their Life’s Task.

REVERSAL

Some people do not become aware of inclinations or future career paths in their childhood, but instead are made painfully aware of their limitations. They are not good at what others seem to find easy or manageable. The idea of a calling in life is alien to them. In some cases they internalize the judgments and criticisms of others, and come to see themselves as essentially deficient. If they are not careful, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Nobody faced this fate more powerfully than Temple Grandin. In 1950, at the age of three, she was diagnosed with autism. She had yet to make any progress in learning language, and it was thought that this would remain her condition—and that she would need to be institutionalized her entire life. But her mother wanted to try one last option before giving up: she sent Temple to a speech therapist, who miraculously, slowly managed to teach her language, which allowed her to attend school and begin to learn what other children were learning.

Despite this improvement, Temple’s future appeared limited at best. Her mind functioned in a different way—she thought in terms of images, not words. In order to learn a word she had to be able to picture it in her mind. This made it hard to understand abstract words or learn mathematics. She was also not good at socializing with other children, who often made fun of her for her differences. With such learning disabilities, what could she hope to do in life beyond some kind of menial job? To make matters worse, she had an extremely active mind, and without something to concentrate on, she would give in to feelings of intense anxiety.

Whenever she felt troubled, Temple instinctively retreated to two activities that were comfortable to her: interacting with animals and building things with her hands. With animals, particularly horses, she had an uncanny ability to sense their feelings and thoughts. She became an expert horseback rider. Because she tended to think first in images, when it came to making things with her hands (like sewing or woodwork), she could envision the finished product in her mind and then easily put it together.

At the age of eleven, Temple went to visit an aunt who had a ranch in Arizona. There she realized that she had an even greater sense of empathy for cattle than she did for horses. One day she watched with particular interest as some of the cattle were placed in a squeeze chute that pressed them on their sides to relax them before their vaccination shots. Throughout her childhood Temple had had the desire to be held tightly, but could not stand being held by an adult—she felt like she had no control in such a situation, and would panic. She pleaded with her aunt to allow her to be put into the squeeze device herself. The aunt agreed, and for thirty minutes Temple gave in to the feeling of pressure she had always dreamed of. Once it was over, she felt an enormous sense of calmness. After that experience she became obsessed with the machine, and several years later managed to build her own primitive version of it that she could use at home.

Now she was obsessed with the subject of cattle, squeeze chutes, and the effect of touch and pressure on autistic children. In order to satisfy her curiosity, she had to develop reading and researching skills. Once she did, she found she had unusually high powers of concentration—she could read for hours on one subject without getting the slightest bit bored. Her research slowly expanded into books on psychology, biology, and science in general. Because of the intellectual skills she had developed, she was admitted into a university. Her horizons were slowly expanding.

Several years later, she found herself pursuing a master’s degree in Animal Sciences at Arizona State University. There, her obsession with cattle resurfaced—she wanted to do a detailed analysis of feedlots and cattle chutes in particular, to help understand the behavioral responses of the animals. Her professors there could not understand such an interest, and told her it was not possible. Never being one to take no for an answer, she found professors in another department who would sponsor her. She did her study, and in the process finally caught a glimpse of her Life’s Task.

She was not destined for a life in the university. She was a practical person who liked to build things and yet needed constant mental stimulation. She decided she would carve out her own peculiar career path. Starting off freelance, she offered her services to various ranches and feedlots, designing cattle chutes that were much more suited to the animals and more efficient. Slowly, with her visual sense of design and engineering, she taught herself the rudiments of the business. She expanded her services to designing more humane slaughterhouses and systems for managing farm animals.

With this career solidly in place, she proceeded to go further: she became a writer; she returned to the university as a professor; she transformed herself into a gifted lecturer on animals and autism. Somehow she had managed to overcome all of the seemingly insurmountable obstructions in her path and find her way to the Life’s Task that suited her to perfection.

When you are faced with deficiencies instead of strengths and inclinations, this is the strategy you must assume: ignore your weaknesses and resist the temptation to be more like others. Instead, like Temple Grandin, direct yourself toward the small things you are good at. Do not dream or make grand plans for the future, but instead concentrate on becoming proficient at these simple and immediate skills. This will bring you confidence and become a base from which you can expand to other pursuits. Proceeding in this way, step by step, you will hit upon your Life’s Task.

Understand: Your Life’s Task does not always appear to you through some grand or promising inclination. It can appear in the guise of your deficiencies, making you focus on the one or two things that you are inevitably good at. Working at these skills, you learn the value of discipline and see the rewards you get from your efforts. Like a lotus flower, your skills will expand outward from a center of strength and confidence. Do not envy those who seem to be naturally gifted; it is often a curse, as such types rarely learn the value of diligence and focus, and they pay for this later in life. This strategy applies as well to any setbacks and difficulties we may experience. In such moments, it is generally wise to stick to the few things we know and do well, and to reestablish our confidence.

If someone like Temple Grandin, with so much against her at birth, can find her way to her Life’s Task and to mastery, it means it must be a power accessible to us all.

Sooner or later something seems to call us onto a particular path. You may remember this “something” as a signal calling in childhood when an urge out of nowhere, a fascination, a peculiar turn of events struck like an annunciation: This is what I must do, this is what I’ve got to have. This is who I am…If not this vivid and sure, the call may have been more like gentle pushings in the stream in which you drifted unknowingly to a particular spot on the bank. Looking back, you sense that fate had a hand in it…. A calling may be postponed, avoided, intermittently missed. It may also possess you completely. Whatever; eventually it will out. It makes its claim…. Extraordinary people display calling most evidently. Perhaps that’s why they fascinate. Perhaps, too, they are extraordinary because their calling comes through so clearly and they are so loyal to it…. Extraordinary people bear the better witness because they show what ordinary mortals simply can’t. We seem to have less motivation and more distraction. Yet our destiny is driven by the same universal engine. Extraordinary people are not a different category; the workings of this engine in them are simply more transparent… .

—JAMES HILLMAN

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