For as long as any of us can remember, we've been told that success comes from following one's passion. There is no doubt that having passion for something is a key component to achieve success, but it's only one part of a larger equation. Effort is also important, because if you're not putting in the time and hard work then your passion could merely be a fun hobby that you like to do. Purpose is really what matters most above and beyond passion and effort. Purpose gives meaning to both your passion and effort, that without it true success may never be attained.
I lost my job just over a month ago and I was completely devastated. It came out of the blue with no real explanation as to why except for budget reasons and consolidating the team. For three weeks I felt I was on the boarder of depression. I kept thinking about and analyzing the situation trying to figure out why me and not someone else. I was really dedicated to my job, ask any of my former colleagues. I not only had a passion for my work and put in the effort, but I had a purpose. I woke up everyday looking forward to my job, the people that I worked with and doing what was necessary, not only for the success of my team, but for the company as a whole. And due to the nature of the business, my purpose was to also make the lives of our clients better. Then I lost my job and all that changed in an instant and I have had to rethink what my purpose is in this world.
I don't know about you, but I am passionate about a lot of things. I am passionate about health, flowers, planners, beauty, organic food and products, fashion, cleaning and organizing, movies, reading and the list goes on. I am sure your list is just as long. Could I zero in on one of my passions and make it a success? I probably could, but I also know it's not enough.
"I want to know what passion is. I want to feel something strongly."
-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Passion is not enough, because most of the time it's something that satisfies you and not necessarily the world around you. It doesn't always consider the bigger picture, nor the long-term view. Most of the time it's like a "quick fix." My passion for health is easy to satisfy, because I'll just go to the gym or make sure I eat healthy food. When a new movie comes out (usually it has to be an independent movie), I get super excited and can go to the theatre to watch it. Anyone that knows me knows my obsession with cleaning and organizing and it gives me great joy to keep my home or my office clutter and dust-free. I would even go as far to say that I put in a fair amount of effort into all these things as well, but I don't believe it gives me purpose.
Four years ago, Mark Cuban wrote a post titled, "Don't Follow Your Passion, Follow Your Effort." He believes "follow your passion" is the worst advice, because as I mentioned before and what Cuban says is, everyone is passionate about something and it's usually more than one thing. He says, "If you really want to know where your destiny lies, look at where you apply your time." In other words, applying your time to something is the effort you put in, which ought to lead to success.
"All the effort in the world won't matter if you're not inspired."
-- Chuck Palahniuk, Diary
Effort, or rather dedicated hard work is obviously important and coupled with your passion is a pretty powerful combination, but it's still not enough. I put in a lot of effort with many of my passions. I am dedicated to consistently learning about health. What are the best foods for ultimate health? What are the best exercises to improve health? I could read and research this topic all day. However, does that equate to having purpose? For me it doesn't, so I'm sure you're wondering then how do we get to what purpose is.
Since losing my job I have had to rethink what my purpose is. To be honest, I've been in this place before. When my husband and I moved to Reno for his business, I had to think long and hard about what to do that will give me purpose and generate money for my livelihood. It turned out that both my husband and his investor wanted me to be part of the business and help run it, so that's what I ended up doing for a couple of years. However, was that fulfilling my true purpose? No. When we moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, again for my husband's business, I had to figure out what will give me purpose and generate money. I ended up teaching English. I taught at a private, bilingual school for two years and then I started my own teaching business, teaching English privately to young professionals for two years. But again, was that my true purpose? No, it wasn't even my passion, but I can tell you I put A LOT of effort into it.
"Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it"
-- Gautama Buddha
So what is purpose? Here is one definition, "purpose is your essential 'reason why.' It is your motivating force, your invigorating energy, your inner fuel that fires your engine. Purpose is what drives you to do what you already do -- and want to keep doing," Dr. Mani on "What Drives You To Do What You Do?" from entrepreneurs-journey.com.
When I look back at where we've lived and what I needed to do in order to feel I had a purpose and make money, wasn't really the true definition of purpose. However, in my last job I really felt that I had a purpose. There was an invisible driving force in me where I believed I was creating meaning and I didn't even care about the money I was making. Now that's all changed. If that was truly my purpose, I would still be at that company, enjoying each day and striving towards success.
As I go through my job search, I am being very discriminating, because I know I can't just have a job for the sake of having a job, I need meaning. I want to make meaning, not just money. I want to feel that invigorating energy again. It will probably take some time, but I know I'll get there.