Read an Excerpt
Pursuit of Passionate Purpose
By Theresa M. Szczurek
John Wiley & SonsISBN: 0-471-70324-9
Chapter OnePursuit Brings Real Rewards
Premise: There is a formula, a model, for success.
Path: Discover why and how to implement the formula.
Outcome: Knowledge of how to effectively use this book.
The summit at 19,340 feet was in sight now. After another hour of persistent climbing, I breathlessly whispered, "Yes! Here is the summit of Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa." Indeed, the Pursuit of Passionate Purpose formula helped me succeed on that five-day, arduous trek just as it had in other parts of my life. With my business card from Radish Communications Systems to represent the young venture I had cofounded and painstakingly nurtured, the moment was captured in a photo-my baby, Radish, and me on top of the world!
Fierce winds blew on Kili. Similarly, but unknown to me, the winds of change were furiously blowing in my professional life at home.
It had started nearly four decades earlier. I grew up in a large, blue-collar, Polish family in the suburbs of Chicago, with a solid education at St. Mary of Czestochowa Catholic School. As my personal foundation of core values took form, my determination also gained strength. My motto became: "If it is to be, it is up to me."
Twenty years after that beginning, I was living my dream-or so I thought-climbing the career ladder in a Fortune 100company. But I didn't realize the price I would have to pay for my position as one of the highest ranked women in my division. The lack of a personal life and 60-hour workweeks were taking their toll. Behind my back, colleagues resented my promotions. My boss instructed me to act without integrity: "Kill Larry or Larry is going to kill you." Then the company sent that boss, instead of me, to announce the new product I had worked on for three years. My head, the rational thinker, had dominated decisions to this point. Now my heart, the creative feeler, cried out, "What you really want is balance in life-deep connection with people and meaningful work in an environment where people can contribute and be rewarded to the fullest. Make changes. Follow your heart, in harmony with your head. Pursue passionate purpose."
I was like many people today who hear the wake-up call and are searching for meaning. Hungry for practical solutions, these people are asking, "What is the formula for getting what I want in work and in life? How can I live a rewarding life?"
Similarly, the employers of these workers seek to improve productivity and generate superior results.
TURN THE WORST OF TIMES INTO THE BEST OF TIMES
Especially in the worst of times, as Dickens would say, when terrorism, war, economic downturn, drought, layoffs, bankruptcies, ethical tests, or other challenges surface, you need to ignite your passion.
Just as exercise strengthens your muscles, adversity strengthens who you are and stimulates stronger flow of spirit. And that is why the worst of times-when adversity strikes-can become the best of times.
Your challenge, and the challenge of all organizations, is to keep that human life force flowing. But how?
The pursuit of meaningful intention ignites passion. The primary purpose of this book is to help you live a great life with the rewards you desire.
This project began because people kept asking me how I had accomplished certain remarkable things. Combining these inquiries with an unshakable calling to help others, I examined what had delivered results and brought real rewards in both my business and personal life. I also wanted to know if others had produced positive outcomes using similar methods. This led to the key question: What distinguishes those who find and fulfill a passionate purpose from those who don't?
After reviewing others' work and not finding the answer, I designed and undertook a rigorous, multiyear, research study to answer the question. The project goal was to distill a systematic and practical approach that others could use to get all they want in life. To ensure substantive conclusions, I collected data from a representative sample of adult Americans using one-on-one interviews and written surveys. The participants represented both genders from various occupations, ethnic and age groups, and geographic locations, with a range of personal and professional purposes. As I incorporated the wisdom of more than 80 research participants-those who had found and pursued passionate purpose and those who had not-success strategies and a step-by-step process emerged.
I derived conclusions from extensive analysis of all the data. Not every participant stated every point summarized here, and a few provided inputs counter to these conclusions. The findings of this study, however, are consistent with the majority of the data. All personal stories and quotes in this book, unless otherwise noted, are from my research participants.
ABOUT PASSIONATE PURPOSE
Passionate purpose is an intention or goal pursued with passion-intense enthusiasm, zeal, fervor, and interest. As a purpose connected to the Pursuer's values and gifts, it is significant. The more meaningful the purpose, the more intense is the passion and the more noteworthy is the impact.
What It Is
There is a human need for purpose. In Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl reports, "Man actually needs the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him." Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces writes that nearly all cultures carry a common myth about the hero's journey. The hero leaves home in service of a worthwhile purpose, encounters obstacles and hindrances, eventually succeeds, and returns home to be of further service. Kenneth Thomas explains, "We seem to need to see ourselves as going somewhere-as being on a journey in pursuit of a significant purpose."
Passionate purposes and pursuit toward them are as varied as snowflakes-some are grandiose and others are quite modest. Some are professional; others are personal. Only you can choose a meaningful purpose. Although the examples in this book focus more on business-oriented endeavors, the concepts apply to all areas of life.
The word purpose in this book encompasses a range of aspirations, from a grand reason for living to narrow objectives. Purpose is used interchangeably with the terms aim, target, goal, and intention. You can make an impact and reap real rewards whether you align your passion with a core purpose, broad intention, or smaller goals. Some people recognize an enduring purpose that is the overall "why" of life, and others do not. Still, most people agree that having purpose is important and that purpose brings meaning to life.
Almost everyone needs and wants a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Some people, called Passionate Pursuers, find and commit to a worthwhile purpose, keep the fire burning during the pursuit, and continue until they produce results. Seekers may strive for a long time to discover it. Still others, In-between'ers, are taking a break.
Passionate purpose optimally engages your whole self, or spirit, in the pursuit. Spirit, your source for intuition and insights, is built from three energy centers of the self:
1. Head (intellect, mind, or cognition) stems from mental effort, logical thinking, talking, and imagination. 2. Heart (passion) emanates from desire, emotions, and feelings.
3. Hands (body) can spring from physical exertion, body sensations, touch, taking action, and doing.
Why It Is Important
A passionate purpose is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and others. You experience joy and build self-confidence in your ability to make a meaningful difference while living a rewarding life.
There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it. Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
Having a clear purpose about which you are passionate is essential for getting what you want in work and life. With the pursuit of purpose comes fulfillment, and from that experience comes meaning and a feeling of success. Not only the individual benefits-businesses, families, churches, and organizations gain positive results when people align personal passion with organizational purpose.
In reading Good to Great, I asked myself, "How do you turn a good life into a great life?" Jim Collins writes, "It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work." Then I realized this study, which had absorbed me for over five years, really was exploring that critical question. The pursuit of passionate purpose is the quest to make a meaningful difference as your life's work. This book shows you how to transform a good life into a great life.
How do you measure success in the pursuit of passionate purpose? You have to define it by what you believe is meaningful. Likewise, you define greatness individually-but at the broadest level, it means a life that delivers what you want and find meaningful. These are your real rewards.
How Pursuing Passionate Purpose Feels
It feels great. Pursuit of passionate purpose is the quest of a meaningful goal that you care about deeply. It is the course of action or path you take on the journey to a desired destination. In the optimal pursuit, you reap what Kenneth Thomas calls intrinsic rewards of meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress that create more motivation for the pursuit. These are also real rewards from the pursuit. You may also experience what Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi calls flow-a state of focused concentration where you become so involved in the activity that nothing else seems to matter. There is a sense of delight and deep satisfaction.
THE SUCCESS FORMULA
In interviewing people from all walks of life, I asked, "What brings meaning to your life?" There were many responses, but the majority essentially said:
Love (deep, caring relationships with the interconnected web of life including people, animals, nature, and spirit)
Meaningful work (a worthwhile way to contribute, grow, and make a difference)
My research affirms what others have said through the ages: The pursuit of passionate purpose and relationships along the way bring meaning to life.
A "two-four-six rule" is the basis for successfully pursuing passionate purpose and reaping real rewards. The two-step formula is:
1. Follow the proven four-stage process.
2. Apply six success strategies.
Consider this metaphor. Think of the pursuit of passionate purpose as a journey to a desired destination:
The process is the step-by-step path you take to get from point A to point B. Your whole self-head, heart, and hands-becomes a unified vehicle to get you where you want to go. Your hands (body) serve as the engine. Your heart (passion) is the fuel. Your head (intellect, mind, or cognition) is the navigator guiding you along.
The strategies are the principles of operation and lubrication that keep the vehicle working efficiently and moving forward on the journey. They can also act as catalysts to convert your vehicle from a bicycle into a sports car or rocket ship. Bring the proper people and the rest of the interconnected web of life along as your travel companions and support crew who provide encouragement, stimulation, and all kinds of help.
Follow the Proven Process
First, discover what you value and your unique gifts-what you are passionate about. Next, find a worthwhile purpose that aligns with your passion. The purpose gives focus and passion fuels your pursuit. In pursuing the purpose, you may need to change, grow, and accept as your journey unfolds. Eventually, you assess progress. If you have achieved your goal or done everything possible to reach it, you continue the cycle of your life by reaffirming what you value and determining what is next. If not, you continue the pursuit, perhaps with some adjustments.
This iterative, ongoing process, shown in Figure 1.1, has four stages of development:
1. Know and Nurture the Person (exploring who I am and what I value).
2. Find Passionate Purpose (determining what I want and do not want).
3. Pursue Purpose (establishing how I get it).
4. Assess Progress (evaluating how things are going and what is next).
The circular graphic is intentional in representing the process. The hoop or mandala, which means "magic, sacred circle" in Sanskrit, can be found in all cultures and periods of time as a symbol of wholeness. As one of the essential shapes of creation, it corresponds to the cycle of life.
In following this process, you are on the hero's journey, universally found in myths and reality. You initially build a core foundation at home (know the person), then go off to engage in a worthwhile cause (find and pursue passionate purpose), overcome obstacles, eventually succeed, and then come back home to be of service to the greater community (assess progress and begin the cycle again).
Although movement is typically clockwise, movement between stages can be multidirectional. It is possible to jump on the pursuit at any stage and even move between stages while skipping one. You may start helping a worthy cause (pursuing someone else's purpose) without determining that it is your own aim or that you are passionate about it. Later, it becomes your own purpose, and as an unexpected consequence you get to know yourself better. The late David Hawkins, professor emeritus of philosophy, said, "We need to explore the relationship between means and ends. Purposes grow out of situations. One may find the pursuit first and then this brings the purpose."
My story illustrates this four-stage process. Although I did not realize it at the time, I started the Assess Progress stage as challenge after challenge arose in the corporate setting. Finally, when my boss made the product announcement without me, I decided to make changes. I took an educational leave of absence to explore through an eye-opening adventure trip to the South Pacific who I was and what was important to me. I embarked on the Know and Nurture the Person stage. Seeing children, families, and wildlife in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji, I realized that I had been neglecting an important part of myself-my need for deep connections to people, being close to nature, and having a family. But how could I balance my heart and head? During the Find Passionate Purpose stage, I found what appeared to be the answer. I quit the company and moved to Colorado to be close to the outdoors, good friends, and a possible spouse. In addition, I started my consulting firm and enrolled in a PhD program. Immersed in the Pursue Purpose stage, I was now following my heart, in harmony with my head, while pursuing passionate purpose.
Had I arrived? My journey brought me back full circle to the Assess Progress stage with the next set of challenges. Could I consult, be a serious student, and nurture a relationship? This tale continues throughout the book.
Pursuits over Time
Over time, this circular process can be viewed as a continuous, upward spiral as shown in Figure 1.2. The ascending movement depicts the passage through eras of life.
While some people have a passionate purpose that consumes their entire existence, others pursue simultaneous passionate purposes part-time, as shown in Figure 1.3. Professor Hawkins continues, "The idea of a purpose seems unduly restrictive. Life can have many purposes-commitments, involvements, and interests. Sometimes one is dominant, sometimes another."
Excerpted from Pursuit of Passionate Purpose by Theresa M. Szczurek Excerpted by permission.
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