Discovering Your Emerging Passion, Purpose, and Vision

About a month back I was playing around with Workfu when I stumbled across a couple of patterns that made me laugh out loud when I saw how evident they were. You see when using Workfu, it asks you to enter in keywords that relate to your professional life. After entering in those keywords though, I felt like it would be better if they were organized in some way, rather than just being a jumbled display of keywords. When I started to organize them intuitively, I suddenly realized that the two repeating patterns that I was organizing them by were my passion and purpose in life!

Taking this into consideration, I realized that if someone actually didn’t know their passion and purpose in life, they could potentially figure them out using this exact same approach. That said, while this worked for me because of my insights and research within this field, it might obviously not work for someone else for a variety of reasons. That said though, I thought it was significant enough to share with others anyway.

Just a few words to set the baseline of understanding though. Your passion is your energy, your natural talent. Your purpose is the direction with which you release or express your passion. Your vision is that which you hope to become, your passion and purpose working in harmony to achieve your life’s calling within a specific scope and context. It’s important to realize though that you may not have enough knowledge or experience at this time to fully realize your ultimate vision in life but at the very least it will hopefully reveal the next step within it. In addition, feel free to use titles outside of your work as well, as they may reveal more of who you truly are since many of the jobs we do today are to just pay the bills rather than being something that we’re passionate about.

First off, list your job titles with your current job at the top and oldest at the bottom. Remove any descriptors, so as to achieve a title of just two words (i.e. senior web developer = web developer). In addition, if the meaning of the title doesn’t seem evident with a quick scan, try to summarize it down to its core meaning that feels right to you (i.e. clerical clerk = organization support)

Life Researcher*
Web Designer
Community Support (Customer Support)
Web Developer
Team Leader
Community Architect
Business Advisor
Systems Support
Body Therapist (Massage Therapist)*
Culture Creator*
Community Founder*
Guild Leader*
Systems Support
Organization Support (Clerical Clerk)

* Signifies a personal title outside of my professional life

Now look at the first word in your job titles and group them together, removing any duplicates if you want but at least make the duplicated keyword bigger or bolder so as to relay the importance of it. These are your passion keywords.

Life, Web, Community, Team, Business, Systems, Body, Culture, Guild, Organization

Now look at the second word in your job titles and group them together, again removing any duplicates but making the duplicated keyword bigger or bolder. These are your purpose keywords.

Researcher, Designer, Support, Developer, Leader, Architect, Advisor, Creator, Founder

Now this is where it starts to get really tricky because you need to see below the surface and understand the pattern as a thread that weaves through your life and these keywords. This is the point where you have to let go of logic and start to use your feelings more. For example, if you’ve been having positive or negative feelings throughout your life, particularly within work environments, try to draw on those. For example, I’ve notice throughput my life that I dislike corporate environments because they often have an unnatural culture that makes a person feel useless, disconnected, depressed, and machine-like at the end of the work day. Whereas I want to work within an environment that makes me feel valued, whole, happy, and alive like a human being.

Taking this in mind, I looked at my passion keywords and notice a pattern right off the bat. All of these keywords relate to systems, be they technical (i.e. computers, Web), organizational (i.e. business, community), or organic (i.e. body). Again this was much easier for me to see this pattern, as I had already figured this out earlier in my life. So based upon this though, my passion appears to be systems.

Looking at my purpose, most of the keywords related to building or creating something. So my purpose seems to be a creator which does relate to me as a cultural creative. Yet while I found this to be somewhat true, it didn’t feel perfectly right to me for some reason. To figure out why, let’s see if we can put this all together using my passion and purpose keywords, as well as my feelings, to come up with my visionary job title. One key thing to remember though is that your vision defines the specific scope and context of your passion and purpose at work. Put another way, it helps you figure out if you want to work on a large scale or a small scale. For example, some people prefer helping others one person at a time, while others prefer helping many people all at once.

For me, while I enjoy deep interactions with one person, I have this strong innate desire to help many people all at once. Thus in terms of the scope and context of my passion, it feels like its on an organizational scale or even on a societal scale. Thus in looking at the variety of system keywords that I used to figure out my systems passion, culture to me seemed like the best word that relates to the scope and context of my passion in detail. In effect, I believe my best systems approach is using culture to help change the world around me at a grand scale.

In terms of my purpose keywords, as I said before, none of my job titles seem to articulate what I’ve naturally been doing or wanting to do in my work with regards to my purpose. Being a creator is very close, as playful creativity is at the heart of my life, but it still doesn’t seem to be the perfect word. In looking back on my feelings, it almost feels like I want to help “heal” organizations and the people within them, so they they can release their full potential. While saying I’m a healer does feel right and even relates to my Keirsey personality profile (i.e. Healer), it just sounds too much like a New Age title. “Hi, I’m your organizations new Cultural Healer. Let’s have a big group hug!” Uh, I don’t think so. One word that did jump out though in my thoughts, and seemed more business-like, was an Integrator. Integration within systems is a common buzzword today so it felt much closer but still not perfect. For now, I’ll live with it though until something better emerges.

So all said and done, my visionary job title for what I want to be doing is a Cultural Integrator. If this seems to be a little far fetched at this time then you might want to read a book called Chief Culture Officer by Grant McCracken (or even another book entitled The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge). It describes a job title that is somewhat similar to what I’d be doing as a Cultural Integrator and what I’ve already been doing intuitively throughout my work life. But why not just use Chief Culture Officer for my job title then since it’s something that’s already emerging within the work force? Primarily because I dislike the corporate connotations it implies in its use which in turn could distance me from the type of non-corporate companies that I’d like to help.

In a future post though, I’ll try to explain how you can break down these patterns into even more specific details, thus allowing you to see the skills that got you where you are today and the skills that you will need to get you where you want to be in the future. Even more so, I’ll reiterate again the importance of scope and context to help you understand how your skills are like languages or lingo that help you to communicate your passion and purpose to others around you thus allowing you to interact and relate to them better, particularly within your work life.

Update June 21/2012: In thinking about this a bit more, I’m growing fond of the title Cultural Designer more and more. The word designer corresponds more closely within my purpose keyword of creator and it also probably seems much more human and familiar to most people as well. While the healing and integration connotations aren’t as noticeable, they are hopefully still implied deep within as great design both simplifies and empowers those whom interact with it. Best of all, Cultural Designer sounds much more grounded and accessible, particularly in comparison to a Chief Culture Officer which sounds very elitist and inaccessible.

By Nollind Whachell

Questing to translate Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey into The Player’s Handbook for the roleplaying game called Life, thus making vertical (leadership) development an accessible, epic framework for everyone.

2 replies on “Discovering Your Emerging Passion, Purpose, and Vision”

Hey Observer, I tried to respond on your blog but it wouldn't accept my long reply, so I'll just respond here.

You're absolutely correct that we as humans have this need to survive. Actually it is this drive which forces us to change and adapt, thus allowing us to survive. And more importantly, it is a desire to not only survive physically but also emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well. In effect, if we lose our sense of self, our identity, we effectively feel as though we are dead, at least inside. This is exactly why I felt the need to leave corporate work environments within the past because they were killing me inside in an emotional, mental, and spiritual capacity (and even physically in terms of stress affecting my health).

You're also absolutely correct that life isn't judging you, people are. And at times, it can be those closest to you that are the worst of others in terms of judgement. Your family and friends only want the best for you, thus they tell you how you should live your life and who you should be. My family did the same to me. They wanted me to conform to the needs of society, so that I could survive within it, and thus give up on my foolish dreams. Yet friends and family are only the beginning of those that judge you, the worse external judges are often societal expectations, relayed often through marketing media that we are immersed within on a daily basis. The worst culprit of all though is your inner self. You are your own worst judge and jury. You can kill your aspirations and dreams before you even take the first step on your journey.

These collectively combined together usually kill any hopes and dreams of most people to figure out their passion and purpose in life. Thus they continue on conforming to the wishes of others, even though internally they feel like their souls and spirits are slowly being carved out of them. This is why people often utilize escape distractions to distract themselves from the other judgmental distractions in their lives. Thus they absorb themselves in the consumption of television, food, alcohol, drugs, games, and more to escape from the pain they are having to endure. Unfortunately this excessive nature often leads to addiction and then eventually to suicide and death when the addiction can no longer curb the pain they are feeling.

I think the most important thing that people who are experiencing this pain should remember is that they are feeling something. In effect, as long as you can feel something, be it happiness or pain, realize at least that you feel alive. It is when you begin to feel nothing that you must worry the most. That is when apathy has taken over your life and you're slowly becoming nothing more than a zombie, the living undead. So strangely enough, cherish and savor your pain and despair for it means you still feel alive. Channel that negative energy into something positively constructive if you can, similar to what songwriters do, as this can lead to your passion. That's because your passion comes from your heart. It's often what makes you blissfully happy or extremely mad to the point that you must intervene or act to stop the pain you are seeing before you.

Above all else though, believe in yourself, particularly when you intuitively feel the path you are taking is right, even if you logically can't explain it to anyone, especially yourself. I can't explain enough how my intuition has guided me over the years. It has done so reliably that I now believe in myself more than I have at any point in my life. As soon as I feel that little voice inside me, judging me or condemning me even in the slightest, I crush it by reinforcing my love and belief in myself.

In term of finding your passion and purpose though, as i can testify in finding my own, it's definitely not easy which is why it's like the hero's journey. The worst thing that will deviate you from your path is the judgmental distractions that you hit you from all sides, even internally, like a siren's call leading you as an explorer and sailor to your doom. Be brave, ignore it, and forge ahead on your journey of discovery and you'll reveal your true nature in time. But again you need to give yourself time and space like a seed that is given time to grow and blossom.

The best metaphor I've found for discovering your passion and purpose in life though is imagining you are both the sculpture and sculptor of your life. You are effectively chiseling away at the distractions around your life to reveal the you that has alway been there deep down inside. So you aren't creating yourself, so much as revealing or expressing yourself. Now for some people, this might seems frustrating because they think there life is already laid out for them and thus they have no choice. It isn't laid out and they do have a choice. Again imagine your life as a resonating chord of music instead. With that simple chord, you can create you own distinct life's melody, even an orchestra in collaboration with others.

BTW I like your 'observer' persona. Observing is a basic aspect of life. Scientist believe now that the state of observing can influence and change the state of that being observed. That said though, the next aspect is interacting. I truly believe that all of us are interacting with and building upon the works of those who have come before us. In effect, our meaning in life comes from expressing ourselves and contributing to the emergence that is life itself. This in turn, when we realize and connect with it, makes us feel like we are contributing to and a part of something much larger than ourselves which is what we all wish to feel in some form or another.

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