Ralph Waldo Emerson on Finding Your One True Vocatio

by William S. Frank, President/CEO of CareerLab®

Each person has his or her own vocation. The talent is the call. There is one direction in which all space is open to you. You have faculties silently inviting you there to endless exertion. You are like a ship in a river; you run against obstructions on every side but one; on that side all obstruction is taken away and you sweep serenely over God’s depths into an infinite sea.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Spiritual Laws”

This text shook my world and launched me on my path as a career consultant. Although I’ve saved hundreds of motivational and inspirational quotes, this is my favorite.

I first saw Emerson’s grand words during Joe Sabah’s workshop called “How to Get the Job You Really Want.” At that time, following a divorce, I was lost and unsure which way to turn. This quote, which suggests there’s a “right place for everyone,” including me, along with Joe Sabah’s enthusiasm, and Dick Bolles’ inspiration convinced me that “Career Planning” was indeed a field, and that I could pursue it with a purpose. (Bolles is the author of the perennial bestseller What Color Is Your Parachute?)

The result has been a 35-year labor of love, including 35,000 hours of face-to-face career consulting, and service to more than 356 brand-name corporations. Emerson’s concept, that there’s a “right place for everyone,” regardless of the adversity of their circumstances, has been a guiding principle for me. In truth, I’ve never seen it fail. As you read this, I believe the same is true for you: There is one direction in which “all space is open to you.”

If you’re there, great. If not, I wish you speed and success in finding your one direction.

[FOOTNOTE: “Spiritual Laws” is an essay, not a book. The book which contains the quote is called Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson: With Introduction by Irwin Edman. The portrait of Emerson is an engraving by T. Cole.
Emerson’s words were couched in “he” and “him” language, so I have taken the liberty of updating it for current usage. :BF]

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