When These 3 Things Collide…You Have Found Your True Calling

Passion January 11, 2017

When These 3 Things Collide…You Have Found Your True Calling

Kirby Atwell
Kirby Atwell the founder of Green Vet Homes. Green Vet Homes is a real estate investment company focused on using sustainable building products and supporting the veteran community by providing affordable housing.

When I left the military in 2011, I had big entrepreneurial dreams.

Throughout high school and all through West Point, I looked forward to serving my country but couldn’t wait to some day have a company of my own.

While serving in the Army, I started buying rental properties and reading voraciously about entrepreneurialism, real estate, and leadership. After six years serving as an officer, I left the service with a blank canvas in front of me, ready to start my very first venture.

RehabFor the next four and a half years, two business partners and I grew my first real estate investment company.  We went from the three of us rehabbing one house, to a staff of 13 full-time team members doing over 20 different development projects at once.

Like most new entrepreneurial ventures, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

Now with my 20/20 hindsight vision, I can look back and analyze what worked and what belly flopped (believe me there was plenty of both).  I have discovered that if I had identified three main things before starting my business, so many hard lessons learned would have taken care of themselves before they even reared their ugly head.

By thinking through these prior to launching, you are establishing a guiding light for yourself when things get tough (which they will).  You are also answering questions like, “Should we invest in x or y?” or “What type of team member should we hire?” before they even come up. By doing this, you have dropped a pin on the map determining exactly where you want to end up.

I can’t overstate the importance of knowing this and the clarity it will provide!

The 3 Things

We have all been told at some point to just “follow your passion.” I wish this was the only ingredient needed to discover your true calling, but I have found it difficult to pay staff at the end of the month with overflowing passion but an empty checking account.

MoneyConversely, if you are swimming in pile of cash like Scrooge McDuck, but have no true purpose behind what you are doing, it’s very difficult to find the internal fuel to keep growing, and no matter how high you grow your pile of money, true fulfillment will always escape you.

That’s why I have found these three components to be the critical mix for fostering long-term success that you can be proud of.

What You Believe In

Pete Carroll, head football coach for the Seattle Seahawks, is known for asking his players what their life philosophy is.  If you find yourself jumping from one thing to another without making much progress on any of it, you probably haven’t identified your “life philosophy” yet.

PeopleHere’s a couple of questions that can help you figure it out.

  •      What are you all about as a person?
  •      What do you believe in?
  •      What makes you angry?
  •      Who do you most admire and what about them do you like specifically?
  •      What do you want your obituary to say?

These are the things that I refer to as what you believe in.  It’s the stuff that guides you morally and the stuff that famous country singer Aaron Tippin is referring to when he sings, “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.”

What You Love Doing

In Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit,” she cites study after study proving how significantly more likely you are to have success if you are doing something you have a strong interest in.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

What might be surprising though, is that you can foster interest by taking action.  Interest doesn’t come from internal introspection, but rather by experiencing things for yourself and finding out what you enjoy.

SuccessIf you think back to what you enjoyed doing in high school, you will probably notice it to be much different these days.  New interests have developed over time.

When I was a kid I loved animals and thought I would grow up to be a veterinarian some day.  Although my appreciation for animals still has an influence on my life, it is no longer a top passion of mine.  My interests have evolved through new experiences.

So if you don’t yet know what you most love doing, don’t worry about it.  The message here is to not be afraid to try new things because your interests will evolve as you do.  Just start to pay attention and take note as they do.

What Moves the Needle

I used to refer to this section as what is most profitable.  However, I realized that this exercise works in all facets of life, not just business or career.  Sometimes profit can come in the form of a closer relationship with your family or a slimmer waste line, which isn’t measured in dollars and cents.

NeedleSo I changed this section to “what moves the needle.” What I mean by this is identifying what actions make the biggest impact or bring the biggest results.

For example, if you are doing this exercise to figure out what your most ideal fitness routine should be, you would list actions you know of that leads to improved fitness.

Once you have your list you can start to look at it in terms of the actions that will give you the most bang for your buck.  What are the actions that will bring the results you are after the quickest?  Those are the real needle movers.

Tie Them All Together

Up until six months ago I was operating my business on only two of these components.  I loved what I was doing and moving the needle enough, but still felt something was missing.

Maybe you can relate to this feeling.

So I walked away from what I had spent four and half years building to start over again incorporating the third component, “What You Believe In.”

VetsThrough other work I had done with veterans, I realized my passion for working with military vets who have had a tougher path than I.  So I set up my new real estate business, Green Vet Homes to buy, rehab, and rent homes to homeless veterans.

By incorporating the “What You Believe In” component into my business, my clarity of purpose has sky rocketed, and I feel like I am doing what I was called to do.


I have found that if only one of these three ingredients exists, most won’t even get started.  The business or undertaking you are considering will always remain an idea or an intention with only one of these components in place.

I believe most people live in a place where two of the three overlap.  A place where they see some success, but don’t experience a level of passion where they go to bed thinking about their endeavor and wake up fired up to get back at it.

That level of passion comes from being in the ideal spot, right in the middle, where all three pieces overlap.  This is where you feel like you are doing what you were made for.  For most, this won’t be an easy thing to identify, but when you do, you will have found your true calling.