Man and his Life Calling

169. Every man is a master in his own calling.

What does it mean to have a calling? To have a clear life purpose?

It means to have found something which resonates within your inner self, with who you are deep down inside. It means to be able to easily get into a flow state. It means to be passionate about something for the long haul. It means to show perseverance even when the going gets tough. (And rest assured, it will. Nothing worth doing is easy.)

And it’s neither a good thing nor a bad thing when your calling is different from another man’s. Perhaps your calling is one of achievement, of meeting challenges head-on, of setting out to do big things… Perhaps another’s calling is to nurture, to educate, to encourage… And perhaps yet another’s calling is unseen, existing below the surface of your and even his consciousness. And by definition, Publius reminds us, he is a master in it.

This may in fact be a bit of a case of begging the question. By assuming that every man has a calling, and that to have a calling is to be a master in it, it would follow that every man must be a master in his calling. But does one have to be a master in his calling? Or are there cases where one has a calling but has not developed it to the point of mastery.

Earlier this year we looked at a handy heuristic related to talent, skill, effort, and achievement, courtesy of Angela Duckworth’s recent bestseller, Grit. Basically, “effort counts twice,” because talent * effort = skill, while skill * effort = achievement. So I could see a case where just because someone has an immense talent for something, one could even say a calling, and yet they have not applied themselves to develop it into a skill, let alone achieve anything with it, that they could not be considered a master.


Here Publius has posited that every man has a calling, and that every man is a master in his calling. And while there may be exceptions to this that we can pick apart, it is a good reminder that we all have different aims and callings in life, and that is okay. We are all a master in our own right.

Until next time,


You would do well to read more Publius Syrus, because finding your life’s calling is immensely gratifying, and if you haven’t yet found it, it will be transformational for your happiness.


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