True Calling Project | Finding Purpose and Meaning In Life and Career

John Harrison is a professional psychotherapist and coach. He brings his insight and experience from his former career as a military officer, 9-5 office worker, and his current career as a therapist and coach, in interviews with professionals, psychology experts, and those living their higher potential. Each week you’ll get discussion, stories, and insights on finding your “why”, how to optimize your life and business, and the mental and emotional challenges that can keep you stuck. He and his guests explore the practical and spiritual aspects of engaging in a satisfying career and a meaningful life.
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True Calling Project | Finding Purpose and Meaning In Life and Career



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Nov 28, 2016

Today’s guest, Jane Zarse, is the author of Love and Compassion Is My Religion: A Beginner's Book into Spirituality. The book is a guide to finding your spiritual self – no matter how much you've lost yourself. It's a guide on how to find your way back.

“Spirituality saved me, so I felt compelled to pass that on.”

Jane fought bulimia and drank to excess after graduating from Boston University, then worked first as an actress and later as a high-volume trader at Chicago's Options Exchange. She lacked compassion for others, but didn’t realize why until much later.

Jane lacked compassion because she didn’t really love herself. Spirituality helped her embrace authentic self love – the desire to take care of yourself, even when it requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice.

Jane was first introduced to spirituality in Alcoholics Anonymous, which was actually disconcerting at first. She didn’t know if it was religion or what was going on, but she knew she didn’t want to drink herself to death. She learned to tap into something bigger than her, and that helped.

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired for years, but nothing changed until I was sick and tired enough to be willing to do something about it.”

These principles can be applied to anyone who feels stuck.

  • Be honest – You can’t fix anything you won’t acknowledge.
  • Find hope – Hope can produce positive results in your life.
  • Pray – Jane believes in the power of prayer.

“You have to first admit you’re immersed in the quicksand before you can conceptualize a way out.”

You can’t live a good life with a bad attitude, whether you find a good attitude through hope, a higher power, meditation, or the people you surround yourself with. Jane shares a powerful journey about getting unstuck and bringing herself up from rock bottom to a place where she has authentic self love through spirituality. Jane’s book is an excellent starting point for others interested in beginning their own spiritual journeys.



Interested in learning more about how I can help you through coaching?  Find out more at


Production & Development for True Calling Project by Podcast Masters

Nov 21, 2016

Should you quit your job? Over the past few years, I have seen a lot of discussions and advertisements online encouraging people to leave their job, take risk, step into the unknown and really go for it. I want to offer another perspective.

I did quit my job about two years ago, and it did open up new opportunities in my life that I would not have had otherwise – however, in hindsight, there are a few things I would have done differently.

Eckhart Tolle suggests that there are three ways that we can improve a situation in which we are unhappy:

  • Can you change your situation?
  • Can you accept it?
  • Should you leave it?

Before you decide to leave a job, first consider what about the job is making you unhappy. Are you doing things you don’t like, or not doing enough of the things you enjoy? Improving that situation may be as simple as sitting down to talk with a supervisor.

“Practicing acceptance within my line of work has really been focused on the fact that I need to be present with the people that I’m working with and that I’m connected with.”

When we’re talking about changing things, we’re approaching the situation from a cognitive or logical mindset. When we’re talking about accepting something, we’re coming from a place of being in the moment or noticing our resistance. Is there something we’re resisting in our work environments? Are there things that we can acknowledge as common consequences or inconveniences of any job we might have, and view them as things we have to deal with to do the things we love to do? Acceptance can lead to gratitude.

“When I adopt a mindset of gratitude in my work, it’s that I recognize the awesome potential of what it is I’m actually doing.”

The question then becomes, when can I or should I leave my current situation? No one can answer this question for you, but good planning can help you figure the answer out for yourself.

  • Take an inventory of your financial situation, and how it will be impacted if you leave your job.
    • If you’re transitioning from a job with steady income into a job without a steady income, you’ll want to save at least 6 month’s income.
    • If you’re transitioning from job with steady income into a job with less steady income, you’ll want to save at least 3 month’s income.
  • Why do you want to leave your job? What opportunities will open up that are not currently available?
  • Talk to people who have already transitioned and learn from their experiences.
  • Abundance vs Scarcity
    • The idea that things are in scarcity keeps many people stuck in their current situation.
    • When we come from a place of abundance, we realize that time isn’t necessarily finite. Just because we don’t like where things are at now doesn’t mean things won’t get better.

So, should you quit your job? Before you make the decision: slow down, consider your motivations to make the change, take a personal inventory, do careful financial planning, consider the unexpected, and identify things that you can change today to improve your situation.




Interested in learning more about how I can help you through coaching?  Find out more at


Production & Development for the True Calling Project by Podcast Masters

Nov 14, 2016

Welcome to the True Calling Project. I’m your host John Harrison, professional psychotherapist and coach, and today I’m talking to a long-time friend, Lt. Col. Phil Forbes. Phil has been affiliated with Special Operations for the majority of his career and has supported numerous contingencies worldwide. He has commanded at the detachment, squadron, and group level in garrison and in combat and has been awarded the Bronze Star on two occasions.  He presently works in the Pentagon for a three-star General as an Executive Officer.

“On a very small scale, we can affect great change in our lives by being a little audacious.”

Phil and I met as freshman at Virginia Tech and the Corps of Cadets, and like most of us he struggled with the regiment of military life.  At one point a few weeks after we started he actually considered quitting.  He was visited by Medal of Honor Recipient Col. Wesley L. Fox, who served as an assistant commandant, and was asked the fundamental question: What is your five year plan?

“It was a very diplomatic way of saying, ‘you’re missing the big picture, Phil.’”

This heart-to-heart meeting with Col. Fox meant a lot to Phil, and he came back from Fall break mature enough to accept that step into a new existence. This was a huge turning point in Phil’s life.

“It wasn’t so much the fact that it was the military or it was the Air Force or it was my uniform or shining my shoes. It was structure, and it was allowing yourself to become part of something bigger.”

Phil considers being a commander to be one of the rewarding experiences in his life. He has been a commander three times in combat and once in garrison, or in a peacetime setting. Each time has presented its own challenges and unique demands because each command was different in the extent to his control or what was expected of him.

“The most rewarding aspect of command is not that I was in charge of people, but rather that I earned those people’s respect.”

Phil shared a few lessons that he learned from 18 plus years in the military. He emphasizes that leadership is about being seen, not necessarily being heard or getting your fingers in everybody's’ pie. Good leadership is characterized by:

  • Being available for people
  • Having the appearance of ubiquity
  • Admitting when you don’t know everything
  • Knowing when to show gratitude
  • Realizing that the people you are in charge of weren’t drafted – they’re volunteers
It’s great to see Phil doing such amazing things, and taking such a high leadership position gives me a sense of comfort and assurance that things are evolving and changing. I thank him for his service, and I appreciate him coming on the show to share. If Phil left any stones unturned and you’d like to get in touch with him, you can email him.

Phil lives with his awesome wife and children in Northern Virginia and is an avid cyclist in his first season of racing cyclocross.  When he's not raging on his bike, doing something outdoors, or writing, he's probably listening to Best Coast while home brewing.




Interested in learning more about how I can help you through coaching?  Find out more at

Nov 4, 2016

I’m your host John Harrison, professional psychotherapist and coach, and I’m getting the project started by talking to someone who has been a big inspiration to me. Melvin Varghese is a therapist and Founder of the podcast and blog Selling the Couch, which helps aspiring and current mental health private practitioners to become better business owners.


“If you want to get to a certain place, one of the best time and financial investments you can make is to invest in people that have already done it and have had success.”


Melvin and I talk about how he found himself in the mental health podcasting niche, the things that he learned about himself and his business by starting a podcast, and great tips for people looking to further their careers by starting a podcast.

Melvin saw an opportunity to serve a larger population and develop alternative income streams by podcasting. It is a unique medium because podcast listeners are consuming episodes passively, while doing other things, and headphones allow podcast hosts to speak directly into the ears of their listeners.


“At the end of my life I didn’t want to have a bag of I Wish I Had Done This and Regrets. I wanted to have a life where, even if I failed at something, I could tell myself and I could tell my family that at least I took the step.”


Selling the Couch’s first episode launched with nine listeners during the first week. It currently has around 170,000. So many people stop when they feel overwhelmed or feel the process is taking too long, but Melvin believes the most successful people understand that the building stage is temporary and necessary. Overcoming obstacles in the season of building will help prepare you for growth.


“Everybody goes through the season of building.”


If you are interested in starting a podcast, Melvin has some great advice:

  • Launching a podcast has a lot of potential because it is still a new medium, but it is not easy on a practical level or an emotional level.
  • There’s a lot of free content all over the web. Melvin has The Complete Guide to Launching Your Podcast available for free on his website.
  • Invest in people that have already started podcasting and have had success. Reach out to people who resonate with you or hire a coach.
  • If you’re at a stage where you’re ready to scale your business, a podcast can help you extend your reach beyond your immediate geographic area. 71% of people are consuming podcasts on smartphones, and in 2016 there are 2.3 billion smartphones in the world. By 2020 it is projected there will be 6.1 billion smartphones.

Melvin has a very intentional morning routine that sets him up for success every day. He’s in bed by 9:00 and up by 4:45; spends his first hour drinking 32 ounces of warm lemon water, working out and meditating; then watches a TED Talk to get into the right mindset.


“If I’m going to consume media, I want to start my day by consuming media that is about people that are doing big things in the world because it puts me in the right mindset.”


Melvin is a huge inspiration and a key part of me launching this podcast, so I can’t thank him enough for being my first guest. His podcasting course is an extremely useful resource for aspiring podcasters, and you can find the Selling the Couch podcast on his website, iTunes or Google Play.



Nov 4, 2016

Welcome to the first episode of True Calling Project, a podcast dedicated to exploring the purpose and meaning in our lives and chosen professions, how we can achieve satisfaction and fulfilment, and live our life to our fullest potential. Do we all have a True Calling? I’m your host John Harrison, professional psychotherapist and coach.

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