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The Power of a Calling

Insights from Joseph's Journey



 Author: Valerie L. Myers, Ph.D., Copyrights 1999, 2011, 2013

It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe. 
-Robert W. Service


"The Power of a Calling: Insights from Joseph's Journey"  reveals ancient wisdom that is surprisingly relevant for modern organizations. The case integrates narratives from Judaism, Christianity and Islam, along with historical information, to trace the trajectory of one person’s calling from birth to death. 


Rich in workplace scenarios, leadership styles, and personalities, this case includes every major topic in organizational behavior. It can be taught as a 6, 8 or 12 week capstone course in organizational behavior or as on lesson in part of a larger curriculum. Either way, the case highlights topics that are vital to living one's calling and the implications for individuals, organizations, and society.  


Core Business Concepts


  • National Culture & Institutionalized Bias

  • Leadership Skills & Sensibilities

  • Organizational Culture & Subcultures

  • Learning & Effectiveness

  • Innovation 

  • Crisis Management

  • Change Management

  • Ethical Decision-making

  • Policies: Recruitment, Hiring & Retention, Religious Accomodation

  • Social Responsibility & Stewardship


  • Talent Development

  • Social Learning

  • Status, Power and Privilege

  • Dysfunctional Teams

  • Team-building

  • Mentoring

  • Positive Regard

  • Diversity & Inclusion (all types)

    • Insiders/Outsiders

    • Positive & Negative Deviants

    • Developing A & B Players

    • Age, Occupation, Gender, Nationality, Religion


  • Personality, Passions

  • Vision & Goals

  • Character Strengths

  • Work Ethic

  • Coping Skills

  • Jobs

  • Career

  • Volunteer Service

  • Hobbies

  • Work/Life Balance

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The case is divided into three parts
Part A - Insights from Joseph's Journey introduces Myers’ cross-cultural theory of calling and examines how the core dimensions of one person’s calling evolved -- its twists, turns, setbacks and successes. It also explores different responses to the calling to leadership and the implications for organizations and society.  Core themes: leadership, aspirations and ambition, team dynamics, diversity and inclusion, attrition, rankism, positive regard, character strengths, mentoring, institutionalized differences, service, innovation, crisis management, cross-cultural collaboration and an organization's social responsibility. 

Part B - Our Better Natures explores how core dimensions of one’s calling are cultivated and the role that leaders and other social influences play in that process. Core themes: Leadership, implicit biases, Pygmalion effects, deviants, B-players, ethics, character strengths and talent development. 

Part C - Legacy concludes by providing concrete examples of latent character strengths and the capacity for people to change. It reveals the importance of leaders, social support and an internal compass to ascend in a calling at any life stage -- even in late adulthood. Core themes: Leadership, latent talents and strengths, mid-life changes, legacy, and social impact.


I have facilitated this case with a variety of audiences including leaders, young adults, established adults,  adults in transition and special populations.  Different topics are emphasized vary depending upon the audience (e.g., career development for youth or leadership for professionals.).

  • Executives & Established Adults - People from various disciplines (e.g., MBAs, Engineering, Information Technology, Hospital Administra­tion, Health Sciences and Social Work) have participated in seminars. In the university classroom, we do not discuss religious faith, but focus instead on core concepts that are germane to leading any modern organization, including religious tolerance (see above).


  • Religious & Non-Religious The content and lessons have resonated with atheists, people of various faiths, and people who consider themselves spiritual but not religious. Most are surprised by this story's relevance to modern leadership and business challenged. The content is customizable to explicitly emphasize con­nections between faith and work, and to facili­tate cross-cultural dialogue and enhance interfaith understanding.  Or it can be taught without any discussion of religion.

  • Emerging Adults - Themes of search and discovery of gifts, character building and the normal detours of a career are discussed. 

This suite of business cases complements the theory in my book "Conversations About Calling"

Note* The original case and teaching note "Calling and Talent Development: Not Your Average Working Joe" were published in 2011. This revised case was released after the publication of Myers book, "Conversations About Calling: Advancing Management Perspectives."  

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