March 21, 2019

Archives for February 28, 2019

Finding Your True Calling

The Summoner in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales,
Ellesmere MSS, circa 1400

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the notion of “calling” entered the English language around Chaucer’s time, originating from Old Norse kalla — “to cry loudly, summon in a loud voice; name, call by name.” A century and a half later, in the 1550’s, “calling” acquired the connotation of “vocation, profession, trade, occupation.” Meanwhile, “vocation” took on the meaning of “spiritual calling,” from Old French vocacio, meaning “call, consecration; calling, profession,” and Latin vocationem — “a calling, a being called” to “one’s occupation or profession.”

Put calling and vocation together, and you’ve got an appealing notion: that you would be summoned by name to a specific occupation as a matter of divine destiny: “Here, do this, it’s what you were born to do.”

What do you suppose are the odds? First, how many workers are there? The world today has about 7.7 billion people. A couple years ago, when there were about 7.2 billion, this comment string on Quora said that about 5.0 billion around the world had jobs.

Okay, that’s total jobs, but what about different jobs? Recruitor.com says there are 40,000 careers. Careerplanner.com puts the number at 12,000. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks 820+ occupations. Trade-schools.net zeroed in on 31 jobs in 2019 that fit “almost every type of person.” Flexjobs.com says there are 13 most common flex-work jobs. Thejobnetwork.com listed ten most popular jobs for 2018. Business Insider listed seven hot jobs for 2018 and 2019. And on it goes.

That’s not particularly helpful, so let’s just play with some numbers. Suppose there are 40,000 different jobs distributed among 5.0 billion workers. If every one of them is a called vocation, then each represents 0.000008 of the total — eight in a million. That isn’t the same as the odds of it happening, but the chances seem pretty low, which we know experientially anyway.

No wonder Chaucer didn’t like the Summoner.[1]

Yet, despite the odds, we still hold onto the idea:

Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor at Yale School of Management and a leading scholar on meaning at work, told me that she senses a great deal of anxiety among her students and clients. ‘They think their calling is under a rock,’ she said, ‘and that if they turn over enough rocks, they will find it.’ If they do not find their one true calling, she went on to say, they feel like something is missing from their lives and that they will never find a job that will satisfy them. And yet only about one third to one half of people whom researchers have surveyed see their work as a calling. Does that mean the rest will not find meaning and purpose in their careers?

The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters, Emily Esfahani Smith

“[O]ne third to one half of people whom researchers have surveyed see their work as a calling.” Does that seem high to anyone else? Does that mean “the rest [who] will not find meaning and purpose in their careers” should give up on the dream and follow advice like the following?

It is much easier to suppress a first desire than to satisfy those that follow. Benjamin Franklin

Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire. Epictetus

The power of unfulfilled desires is the root of all man’s slavery. Paramahansa Yogananda

Maybe, but there’s a pervasive feeling among the Left Behind that they’re missing out big time. For them, cognitive neuroscientist Christian Jarrett offers some perspective from academic research:

  • There’s a difference between a harmonious and obsessive calling. The former gives you vitality, better work performance, flow, and positive mood. The latter is also energizing, but leads to anxiety and burnout.
  • As the quote above said, it’s better not to have a calling than to have one and let it go unanswered.
  • The work you already do might become a calling if you invest enough in it. But that doesn’t mean you should just Grit it out — so says U of Penn psychologist Angela Duckworth, who wrote the book on the topic. Don’t sit and wait for revelation, she says, instead get out and take on some new challenges — and besides, you might find your source of energy and determination elsewhere than in your job.

For more help, this Forbes article provides a daunting list of twelve things it takes to have a calling and not just a job. The writer also says this:

Years ago, I read a very thought-provoking article by Michael Lewis . . . about the difference between a calling and a job. He had some powerful insights. What struck me most were two intriguing concepts:

‘There’s a direct relationship between risk and reward. A fantastically rewarding career usually requires you to take fantastic risks.’

‘A calling is an activity that you find so compelling that you wind up organizing your entire self around it — often to the detriment of your life outside of it.’

Ah… now I think we might be onto something. We’ll explore Lewis’s ideas further next time.


[1] A SUMMONER was there with us in that place/ That had a fire-red cherubinnè’s face/ For saucèfleme he was with eyen narrow/ And hot he was and lecherous as a sparrow./ With scal èd browès black, and pilèd beard,/ Of his viság è children were afeared./ There n’as quicksilver, litharge nor brimstone,/ was no Boras, ceruse, nor oil of tartar none,/ Nor ointèment that wouldè cleanse and bite/ That him might helpèn of his whelkès white,/ Nor of the knobbès sitting on his cheeks./ Well loved he garlic, onion and eke leeks. / And for to drinkèn strong wine red as blood;/ Then would he speak and cry as he were wood.

If you like Kevin Rhodes’s posts, you might enjoy his new Iconoclast.blog, which focuses on several themes that have appeared in this blog over the years, such as how belief creates culture and culture creates behavior, and why growth and change are difficult but doable. You can also follow Iconoclast.blog on Facebook.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Involuntary Short-term Mental Health Commitment Is Not Equivalent to Court Order

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Interest of Ray v. People on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

Mental Health—Certification for Short-Term Treatment—Physician—National Instant Criminal Background Check System—Firearm Prohibitions—Court Order.

Ray voluntarily sought mental health treatment from a hospital. After he was admitted, a physician certified Ray for involuntary short-term mental health treatment under C.R.S. § 27-65-107, finding that he was a danger to himself or others and would discontinue mental health treatment absent such a certification. That certification caused Colorado officials to report Ray to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as a person subject to federal firearm prohibitions. The certifying physician terminated the mental health certification days after it was entered, and Ray was discharged from the hospital. Ray petitioned the probate court for removal from the NICS. The probate court denied the petition.

On appeal, Ray argued that because he was involuntarily certified by a physician, rather than a court, Colorado officials should not have reported his certification to the NICS. Colorado law requires certain persons and entities to make NICS reports for persons with respect to whom a court has entered an order for involuntary certification for short-term mental health treatment. The plain meaning of the term “court order” does not encompass certification by a professional person. Therefore, the certification made by the physician does not meet the plain definition of a court order.

The order was reversed and the case was remanded for the probate court and the parties to take reasonable steps to cause any record of Ray’s certification submitted by them under CRS § 13-9-123(1)(c) to be rescinded.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Suddenly Hitting Officer’s Motorcycle Does Not Constitute “Threat”

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Denhartog on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

Criminal Law—First Degree Assault of a Peace Officer—Threaten—Prior Acts Evidence—Merger—Lesser Included Offense—Prosecutorial Misconduct.

A motorcycle patrol officer observed defendant speeding and pulled him over. The officer parked about 12 feet behind defendant’s vehicle. As the officer prepared to dismount from his bike, defendant suddenly reversed his vehicle and drove into the motorcycle, pushing the bike backward and causing the officer to fall and sustain minor injuries. Defendant left the scene and broke into an unoccupied apartment, where he damaged the tenant’s belongings and set fire to contraband he was carrying. Defendant was charged with 15 felony, misdemeanor, and traffic offenses. As relevant here, the jury convicted him of first degree assault of a peace officer, two counts of second degree assault, vehicular eluding, first degree criminal trespass, and second degree burglary.

On appeal, defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for first degree assault because the prosecution failed to prove he used the vehicle to threaten the officer. “Threaten” means to express a purpose or intent to cause harm or injury. To obtain a conviction for first degree assault of a peace officer, the prosecution had to prove that, by use of a deadly weapon, defendant expressed a purpose or intent to cause injury or harm to the officer or the officer’s property. Here, the act of suddenly hitting the officer’s motorcycle, without more, did not constitute a threat. Accordingly, the evidence was insufficient to sustain the first degree assault conviction.

Next, defendant contended that the trial court erred in admitting evidence under CRE 404(b) of his prior assault of a peace officer. The prior and current incidents were similar enough that the prior act evidence was admissible for the nonpropensity purpose of rebutting defendant’s defense that his conduct was accidental rather than intentional. Thus, the evidence was relevant to establish defendant’s intent to commit assault. The district court did not abuse its discretion.
Defendant also contended that his assault and eluding convictions should be reversed due to prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument. However, the prosecutor did not err in commenting on the strength of defense counsel’s arguments and using the facts in evidence to support his argument. Although the prosecutor improperly appealed to the emotions of the jury and misstated one piece of evidence during his closing argument, the two instances of misconduct were not egregious and did not warrant reversal.

Defendant further contended, the People conceded, and the court of appeals agreed that his two convictions for second degree assault must merge for multiplicity.

Lastly, defendant contended that first degree criminal trespass is a lesser included offense of second degree burglary and therefore these convictions must merge. However, the supreme court has expressly held that first degree criminal trespass is not a lesser included offense of second degree burglary.

The case was remanded to (1) vacate the conviction and sentence for first degree assault and for entry of a judgment of acquittal on that charge; (2) merge the convictions for second degree assault and vacate the conviction entered under C.R.S. § 18-3-203(1)(c); and (3) resentence defendant. The judgment was otherwise affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

Tenth Circuit: Unpublished Opinions, 2/27/2019

On Wednesday, February 27, 2019, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued no published opinion and one unpublished opinion.

Lopez v. Stanley Black & Decker

Case summaries are not provided for unpublished opinions. However, some published opinions are summarized and provided by Legal Connection.