Becoming the Director of Futurebound- the job I was born to do

A funny thing happened recently. I got a new job. Not just any job, something that I pretty much think I was born to do.

Let me describe how I finally found my calling.

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You know how people tell you to find what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life? Or to match your passions with what the world needs, and in the overlapping space is the type of work you should do?

Well, I can’t say I was ever any good at doing those exercises. I’m passionate about many things, and I like solving many problems, which means I’ve held a lot of jobs in pursuit of trying to figure out what I’m meant to do in this world.

Then a funny thing happened, my purpose found me.

You see, I consider myself a hybrid professional. The plight of being a hybrid professional — someone who blends and combines multiple professional identities together, working from the intersections of those different identities — is that you need career opportunities where you can integrate, instead of segregate, your professional identities together, making it difficult to find roles where you won’t be pigeon holed as one thing.

I know that at my core, I am an artist, designer, researcher, and educator. When I activate these primary professional identities concurrently, I’m in my stride. Ideas and actions flow effortlessly and easily. I feel like a machine that’s been turned on with all the parts firing and operating together. Remove the spark plugs or the battery from the car engine, and it just won’t start. That’s what it’s like to be a hybrid. That’s how intertwined my primary professional identities are. I won’t perform at my best if I’m not allowed to crossover and connect my identities.

This new role, the one that feels as close to my calling as I’ve ever tasted, is being the Director of Futurebound. Futurebound is focused on the enormous challenge of building an ecosystem aimed at catalyzing innovation in child development. It draws upon my background and expertise in education, entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, nonprofits, and community building.

Yet, it took someone else to look at me, see me as an ecosystem builder, and point it out to my face. It should have been obvious to me all along, but it wasn’t. Until now, I knew that I loved systems thinking, innovation strategy, design thinking, experience design, and complex human-centered problems, but I didn’t realize what I was doing was actually called ecosystem building, and I was good at it. Additionally, Futurebound is about children, and I have a soft spot for creating change for future generations. Funny how others see us as more than we see ourselves — an important reminder to ask others to reflect back to you how they see you and what your strengths are.

The Point

What I’m trying to say is this:

  • There is the perfect role out there for you somewhere. For me, it was about timing and opportunity: If you’re looking for your calling, believe there is a perfect role suited for you, it just may not exist yet — you might have to either go create it for yourself, be a lot more patient until someone else designs it for you, or continue with more soul searching before you realize how your talents actually fit together into a unique combination that the world needs. Then, you’ll be able to snap into action to make it happen.

  • Finding my calling (aka my career discovery path) wasn’t ever a straight line, it was a squiggly one — and that’s part of the process. Especially if you’re a hybrid professional, like me, you’re going to jump around to different jobs, change careers, go back and get more degrees, and start side hustles all while trying to figure out exactly where you’re going and what you want to be doing as your life’s work.

  • Figure out who you are at the intersections of your primary professional identities- This is what I’ve been honing in on for years. I have these different aspects of my professional self, but who am I when they all come together in a high functioning way? Well, that’s my truest professional identity, and maybe that’s my calling too. I’m just testing this out. And, it’s a thing that’s really, really hard to name (hence, see my workbook on hybrid branding).

Look at the sketch below. It’s the perfect rendering of what my career journey has felt like. This drawing is typically used to show the design process. We start in a state of fuzzy, wishy-washy hunches, moving in all directions, until we land on possible answers and hone in on them. Eventually, golden nuggets appear, the path clears up, and stability and certainty come into focus. The ball of yarn untangles itself (sigh with relief for those OCD types).

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Clarity and focus is where I’m at with my role with Futurebound. Plus purpose.

I hope you’re journey feels less fuzzy, or hopefully you’ve found your point of clarity already. If not, know you’re not alone, it’s a process and a journey (painful as it may feel at times).

Sarabeth Berk