Vocation Staycation


Theologian Frederick Buechner defines vocation as “the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”  The root of the word is “vocare” – which means “to call,” in other words, your vocation is “a calling.”  (See also blog Purpose).  It comes from listening, or paying attention, to what speaks to you; what provides meaning and satisfaction for your existence.  It is not something you chase, it is something you already hold within you, and you build upon it to achieve greatness in generating positivity in others.

Sociologist Parker Palmer phrases vocation this way:

“What a long time it can take to become the person one has always been.  How much dissolving and shaking of ego we must endure before we discover our deep identity, the true self within every human being that is the seed of authentic vocation.”

Organizational Application

St. Thomas Health, a leading division of Ascension Health, is a medical system based in Nashville, Tennessee, which provides a vocational perspective for its mission.  Its Leadership Development program is called Formation, which includes leaders from middle management, executive management, C-Suite, and Board Members, and is delivered over the course of 10 months to 2 years (depending on level).

The leaders at St. Thomas Health follow what they refer to as the Spiritual Leadership Model, as opposed to the typical corporate or traditional leadership model, which is more pervasive across Corporate America.  The emotional impact of 9-11, the globalization effect of the internet, and the increasing influence of the Millennial/Gen Y generation are shifting some organizations (e.g. TOMS, Burt’s Bees) to drive engagement and productivity through their culture of giving.  The connection they establish between employee and the marketplace creates a synergistic effect that becomes profitable.

Traditional Leadership Model Spiritual Leadership Model
THEME I came, I saw, I conquered.

(Latin: Veni. Vidi. Vici.)

I was called, I heard, and entered in.
PURPOSE Unique: Different from others. Created & Interdependent
VALUE Doing Being
DIRECTION Outward; Exclusive Inward; Inclusive
MARKED BY Extrinsic: Materialism, Status Intrinsic: Depth, wisdom
MINIMIZE Failure; setbacks Nothing; all belongs

Individual Application

Mary Lou O’Gorman is the Executive Director of Pastoral Care at St. Thomas Health.  She describes her primary responsibility as “grief work,” since she deals with the passings and changes of circumstance for patients and/or their families.  Over the course of 30 years of service in this role, she has become adept at helping people begin the path of “What does it mean to not be who I was?”

Sooner or later we are all faced with this question…and at several junctures in our lives.  Mary Lou’s calling is a call of Compassion – one that involves helping others navigate through challenging, and often sudden, situations of change to the way things are from what they used to be.  Change Management, therefore, is a requisite in life; since change is the only constant variable with us from cradle to grave.

This path is not easy.  However, authentic leadership requires the ability to tap into one’s core identity and the deftness to support others in finding their own.  It is through this nurturing and strengthening of spirit that will lead you, others, and the organization as a whole towards quicker recovery and resilience during times of emotional fatigue and stress.

“Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.” — Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata

Rossina Gil, MSOD, MAIS, engages as a servant-leader Global Leadership and Organization Development Practitioner, and is the founder of Corporate Looking Glass, LLC – a diverse consultancy of OD experts and strategic thinking partners.   We increase retention.  Visit CorporateLookingGlass.com.

© Rossina Gil, 2015


Kearney, Jerry.  St Thomas Health, VP Mission Services


O’Gorman, Mary Lou.  Executive Director, Pastoral Care

Palmer, Parker.  Let Your Life Speak


About Rossina

Thought Partner & Corporate Primatologist

Posted on August 18, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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