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Creating a “Life at Work”

It’s time to find your purpose and calling.

By Adam Solano Jr.

What can you do differently to transform your family, your work and your industry? What can you do to rise above all of that busyness that consumes your days? How can you lead a balanced, happy, fulfilled and satisfying life? You can do it by finding your calling and creating a “life at work.”

I want to talk about two men who found their calling and created a life at work: Sir John Templeton and Rick Warren. Templeton is the founder of the Templeton Funds, and is known as one of the greatest investors of our time. But he never intended his vocation to be a money manager. Instead, he wanted to be a missionary. As a young man studying at Yale and Oxford, however, he met with missionaries who had been abroad, and realized he didn’t have the talent or ability for that work. Fortunately, he understood his talent with money, and devoted himself to supporting missionaries financially.

Rick Warren is the senior pastor at Saddleback Church in California. His book, The Purpose Driven Life, has sold 25 million copies. Do you know what the first four words of that book are? “It’s not about you.” The purpose driven life is not about you. That’s it. And Warren puts that principle into action by reverse tithing: He gives away 90 percent of his wealth and lives on 10 percent.

Sir John Templeton and Rick Warren discovered their calling and have had a life at work. It is their calling—what they do through their work—that enables them to bypass all the “stuff” and messes in their lives.

It’s time to create your own life at work by understanding what your calling is. Here are four characteristics of a calling:

Tips for Creating a “Life at Work”

1. Think of your life in terms of roles not categories.

2. Join NAIFA and MDRT.

3. Sign up for NAIFA’s Leadership in Life Institute. It helped me start my journey in discovering my calling and my “life at work.”

4. Write a purpose statement. It should be just one sentence clarifying your calling. I keep mine on my desk.

5. Have a hero. Mine is George Washington.

6. Belong to a business forum where you can seek counsel about your business and be accountable to others you trust.

7. Stay organized. I use a Franklin Covey customized planner to keep me focused.

1. It is unique. In our business, there is a universal ingredient to our calling, but we are unique in how we implement it and how we impact our communities, families and clients. This profession is a natural ministry because it is designed to serve others.

2. It requires desire, talent and love. Desire is a precondition of a calling. As Albert Gray said in 1940 when he addressed MDRT, “The secret of success of every man who has ever been successful lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

Talent means that for a calling to be right it must fit our abilities. Not everyone has the talent to make MDRT. And within MDRT, most of us do not have the talent to be Top of the Table.

Have you ever said, “I love the work I do!” But do you love the people you work for? Remember, life at work is not about you. Think about this for a moment: You deliver a disability income insurance check to a husband who can no longer work and provide for his family. You bring relief and hope to a wife who lost her husband in an accident. You promise security and freedom to your neighbor who just sold his business. In fact, when you agreed to enter the financial-services industry, you made a social contract with your community and the public.

3. It yields enjoyment and energy. Remember, enjoyment doesn’t always mean we feel joyful. Rather it means that we perform our duty and our work with a sense of resolve, and we gladly do the labor without complaint because we know it must be done.

4. It is not easy to discover. Adversity shapes us and prepares us for our calling. Allow me to illustrate. A friend of mine, John Nichols, has been in the insurance business for many years. But in 1993, he broke his neck in a boating accident and was paralyzed from the neck down. Fortunately, John beat the odds and has made a full recovery. In fact, he now owns and operates a very successful brokerage operation in Chicago. And can you guess what he sells? Disability income insurance. Adversity shaped his calling.

It’s time to discover your calling and to create a life at work. Most of us are called to serve others in business. Think of yourself as a “marketplace missionary” bringing your unique calling and purpose to the world through your business.

This is an excerpt from a much longer speech given at the 2006 MDRT annual meeting. For more information, contact MDRT or visit

Adam Solano Jr., of First Midwest Insurance Group, is an eight-year member of MDRT with one Court of the Table honor and president of NAIFA-Chicago Region. You can contact him at

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