Turn Toward Your Higher Calling

February 12th, 2012 by LaRae Quy

As a young FBI agent, I was assigned to work counterintelligence and espionage cases. I was so excited and felt I had reached my goal of becoming an investigator—and my higher calling in life.

English: Actor Gary Oldman at the 2011 Empire ...

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I didn’t know what I was looking for when looking for spies, exactly, except for what I’d read in books like John LeCarre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I didn’t know what I’d do with them after I caught them, either, except for what I’d seen in movies like The Bourne Identity.

My first assignment in counterintelligence was working as an undercover agent. My job was to identify a Russian spy who was traveling with a large delegation. Since the group was visiting a defense contractor in the Silicon Valley, we knew there would be a KGB officer in the crowd. The company was working on sensitive nano-technology projects.

Russians will use women as “agents” for many of their operation but agents are not intelligence officers. They are operatives but do not receive the same training. Most Russian intelligence officers were, and still are, men. So, from among this large group of Russian men in the delegation, I was to figure out which one was working for the KGB.

And this is the thing: the bad guys don’t wear labels. We first learned this from our ex-spouses, right?

I showed up every day with combed hair and shiny shoes because this was my new school – the U of L . . . University of Life. I felt powerless, in over my head, and I lacked confidence. I had no idea how to find this guy. But the stakes were so high because this was classified military research technology.

Interestingly, as I got to know each and every “suspect,” one of them did stand out.

He wasn’t the one who asked the most questions. He wasn’t the pushy one trying to get access to more information than he should. Instead, he was the one who clearly was not passionate about nano-technology. He was bored. His job was not bringing him fulfillment.

As a new agent, without knowing how, I had actually accurately identified this man, Oleg, as the KGB officer! Once the FBI had Oleg in their sights, we started to pick away at his identify until we knew him for what he truly was.

When counterintelligence agents go about identifying the spy they are hoping to recruit, it’s more than name, rank, and serial number. We dig down to find the true character of the individual. Often, the FBI agent ends up knowing more about the targets of the investigation than they know about themselves!

The reason is that few of us take the time to excavate the significance of our own stories and experiences. As an undercover counterintelligence agent, I spent a great deal of time asking Oleg questions.

Questions can be catalysts. They’re challenges, inspirations, road maps, and hints of something better.

I needed to know why Oleg was no longer finding fulfillment in his job. More importantly, did Oleg himself know he was no longer living the life he wanted? The truth is, most of us are so busy doing what we think we have to that we never get around to doing what we really want to do.

Live your life on purpose.

Dr. Seuss Wooden Nickel

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“You have the brains in your head and the feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know, and you’re the one who’ll decide where to go.” Dr. Seuss

Who are you?

What do you believe?

And why do you believe it?

These are hard questions for most of us. Often, we lack the confidence to reach for the higher goal, and are filled with too much fear to move out of our narrow comfort zone so we can become a bigger person.

Oleg was no different. If we don’t know who we are, how can we know where we’re going?

Recruiting Oleg to work for the FBI was a like a religious conversion process. The Bible tells us in the book of Acts that people are to 1) repent, 2) turn away from sin, and 3) turn toward God.

In my world of espionage and counterintelligence, we followed a very similar process.

  1. An individual stops and notices.
  2. They away from that which keeps them from their best self
  3. And turn toward the higher calling.

By asking Oleg questions, he stopped and noticed which aspects of life were not bringing him fulfillment. While he had started out twenty years earlier as an exemplary Russian intelligence officer, the job now bored him. He was no longer living his life as the adventure he had once desired. Once this was brought to his attention, he felt free to turn toward his higher calling—he stopped and looked at his values, and saw that he was not living his life in accordance with them.

If you want a great life, ask great questions.

More about Oleg’s story in future posts . . .

Have you stopped to notice where you are headed in life? What questions are you asking yourself? Is it taking you toward your best self? What does your higher calling look like to you?

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LaRaeQuy

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17 Responses to “Turn Toward Your Higher Calling”

  1. Mark says:

    Your blog post had me captivated, reading to find out more. Keep up the good work.

  2. Tony Chai says:

    Hi LaRae,

    I found this article of yours when I Googled “Higher Calling in Life”
    Imagine my surprise when I read this piece of good work comes from
    an FBI agent. From the movies, I always imagine lady FBI or CIA agents
    to kick a** without a tinge of hesitations aka Geena Davis in “The
    Long Kiss Goodnight”
    Now back to the topic. I’ve always have this feeling to share my knowledge
    about harnessing the power of our higher consciousness to people.
    I believe this topic can help revive courage especially for people who
    have lost confidence in their lives. Thus, I’ve written an ebook on this topic.
    At the same time, I will email articles occasionally to my subscribers to enlighten
    them regarding this topic. It warms my heart to hear from subscribers who comment
    that a particular email has arrived at the right time during a fragile stage of
    their life. I regard this as my Higher Calling and I will keep doing it. In fact, I
    enjoy doing it.
    God Bless!
    Tony Chai

    • Larae Quy says:

      HI Tony

      How nice to hear from you! And very glad you googled and were able to find my blog. I hope you’ll come back 🙂

      Movies and books rarely get the story right when it comes to FBI or CIA stories . . . Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John LeCarre is one of the exceptions.

      I agree that people need to be more courageous in approaching life, and I’m excited for you that you’ve written an ebook. I’m in the process of doing the same thing myself. There is nothing so heart-warming as the feeling that you’ve helped someone move to a higher level of understanding about themselves and their life. This is one of the reasons I went to graduate school at San Francisco Theological Seminary to become a spiritual director . . . to help people see their higher calling.

      Hope to hear from you again!

  3. Hi LaRae, How brilliant of you to identify the KGB officer based upon how interested he was in the topic. I imagine that is a very difficult part of an undercover operative’s job, to acquire knowledge and feign interest in their cover career.

    I never knew the difference between an agent and an operative. This is fascinating information, though I wouldn’t be brave as you were to try it for a career! I also like these kinds of stories and I look forward to reading more about your past life and how you weave your insights into your experiences.

    Thanks for sharing these with us!

  4. diannadavisson says:

    In order to attain the huge success of life its really great to know your self well before exploring in a field of questions… Because as you face the interaction of business society you are able to deal with other people and try to learn the best of better….

    • LaRae Quy says:

      Hi Dianna

      Self awareness is so critical – I agree. And we’re always trying to make the best, better . . . perhaps it’s time to give ourselves a break and let our natural talents and skills take over. Easier when we’re self-aware enough to know what they are!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. LaRae Quy says:

    I absolutely agree that the counterintelligence skills that I used in the FBI have practical application in everyday life. I plan to be writing more about those applications in the next few weeks and months so keep stopping by the website!

  6. Nayamka says:

    The beginnings of Oleg’s story as an object lesson to cause people to ask themselves questions about their lives is really powerful. It is really thought provoking; the world of counterintelligence connected to everyday life and everyday people.

  7. LaRae Quy says:

    Hi Jack,

    I totally agree with you! It’s why I love blogging and writing as well, but I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to journal, etc. It helps me “get things out” in a way that I can stand back and take a good, long look at it.

    Not everyone is brave or curious enough to explore the inner world – perhaps you are like me and hope that our blogs encourage people to do just that – the journey is SO worth the effort!

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  8. Who are you?

    What do you believe?

    And why do you believe it?

    Those three questions are part of why I became a blogger and continuing to be one. To me it is the perfect medium to think out loud and explore the who, what, when, where and why of life.

    I can only speak for me but I don’t want to be a passive investor in my life. What is the point of that. Better to try and figure out what keeps me excited and do all that I can to pursue that.

  9. LaRae Quy says:

    HI Janet

    Thanks for your kind words of encouragement! I find so many of the laws of human behavior deeply embedded in scripture . . . so much wisdom there as you pointed out in one of your recent posts about turning the other cheek.

    Yes, Rog and I are celebrating a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner via United Airlines over the Pacific ocean 🙁 I can only hope your day is more special!

    Take care.

  10. LaRae Quy says:

    Hi Jamie Bell,

    You made my day with your comment! At the end of 24 years as an FBI agent, I was the one starting to look bored in the crowd 🙁 And yes, so much of it non-verbal and verbal behavior patterns. Once we sense dissonance between what a person is saying and how they’re acting, there is deception. Maybe not outright lying, but the truth is being concealed or misrepresented in some way.

    I’m so excited that you’ll be following the story of Oleg! He’ll be drifting in and out for the next few blog posts as I wrap up some thoughts on ways we life our life on purpose . . . see you on Triberr!

  11. LaRae, aloha. Absolutely loved the way you wove Oleg’s story in with life lessons. It makes sense that if he was not passioante about nano-technology he would stand out from the others. Kudos to you for that recognition and on your first assignment.

    LaRae, I am a huge believer in asking questions of myself and others. If you don’t ask, how will you ever know? Also, of course, what excites or is important to us today may not be so in the future. We have to ask ourselves if we are continuing to do it because that’s what we have always done or are we doing it because we love it, are passionate about it?

    Using the steps in the Book of Acts and then showing the process for counterintelligence was most effective in demonstrating what happened with Oleg.

    Best wishes for a terrific flight back. Will you be spending Valentine’s Day here or on the plane? Until the next adventure, aloha. Janet.

  12. Bell says:

    LaRae, when you said the agent you had to identify was “the one who clearly was not passionate about nano-technology… bored… His job was not bringing him fulfillment” — I literally sat up straight.

    It was like somebody turned on the lights in my head. Of course! It’s like those riddles that seem so obvious once they tell you the answer. I sure gleaned a nugget of wisdom today.
    Unless you’re an excellent actor, it’s really taxing to pass for something you’re not. The longer you keep at it, the harder it gets. Even the best liars get caught in a lie, eventually.

    The key is analyzing all sorts of cues, verbal and nonverbal, to find your fish out of water, isn’t it. Body language gives away metric tons of information when you know how to read it. Also, when you know how to read body language, you know how to “telegraph it” as well.

    I look forward to reading more about Oleg.

  13. LaRae Quy says:

    Hi Betsy,

    Thanks for stopping by! I loved what I was doing for 24 years but as soon as it no longer seemed like fun, I decided to move. And I loved working as an FBI agent for all of those years, but I could feel the boredom creep in and knew it was time to expand my horizon.

    I think what you’re experiencing is common for many of us. Glad to hear that this post helped you in some way.

    Happy to see that you’re now a Twitter follower . . . and I look forward to following your posts as well!

  14. Betsy Cross says:

    Thanks for the thoughts…this is where my head is at today. I have loved what I do, but I need to evolve because I’m getting a bit bored.
    I study my ancestors lives and do feel like a detective. But I end up learning a lot more about myself that them! But they;re dead, so it’s sort of challenging! You know?
    Anyways, thanks. Stuff I needed to hear!

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