The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. Only he who listens can speak. Dag Hammarskjold
Most adults spend many of their waking hours engaged in some form of work. How can the quality of this time be optimized so that it is both enjoyable and productive? This chapter begins with an exploration of elements related to the identification of a satisfying line of work, which is the foundation of engaged professionalism.
In the context of work, most adults have jobs, many have careers, and some have a mission. What is the difference? This chapter explores the attitudes and values that differentiate these, providing you with examples and exercises to help you identify and articulate your life-work mission more clearly. Understanding your mission will help you optimize both internal and external communication toward the achievement of your life-work goals.
What Is Your Life Calling You to Do?
As you move through the years, you will be confronted with many questions that arise from the convergence of external events in your life and your innermost desires. One of the most important of these will concern the matter of your role and purpose in the provision of service to others. For most of us, this involves the selection of a line of work. As tempting as a life of leisure may sometimes appear, the happiest and most fulfilled individuals are those who have, in the words of the humanitarian physician Dr. Albert Schweitzer, “sought and found a way to serve.”1
Your decision to pursue a physical therapy (PT) career is likely based on many factors.
Some of us may have discovered our answer early in our lives, perhaps as the result of a life-changing event that led us quite dramatically to our decision. Others may have been attracted to the profession after exploring other less satisfying options.
The stories of how these decisions were made are often revealed during the interview process for PT school. In that context, many applicants speak poignantly of being inspired to choose this profession because of an injury or illness that led them to seek PT intervention. Others talk of being compelled to the same choice after volunteering in a PT department.
Regardless of how these individuals were led to our profession, their inspiring stories suggest that applicants make this career choice primarily because of their interactions with engaged physical therapists who passionately demonstrate the rich opportunities our profession offers for making a difference in people's lives. Physical therapists who are so excited about their work that they encourage others to join them are compelling ambassadors of engaged professionalism.