When I was fourteen I heard a sermon from Dr Myles Munroe that would forever change my life. And haunt me.
As I sat among hundreds of people listening to this Bahamian preacher – I, for the first time heard about purpose. For the first time in all my fourteen years I was being told that I had been created for a purpose and it would be a travesty to never fulfill that purpose.
I became obsessed with this notion of “fulfilling my life’s purpose”
I pondered and agonized over it for years.
When I did finally “find” my purpose I couldn’t articulate to others what I was going through. Now I can. The clarity came as I begun reading Purple Cow.
In Purple Cow Seth Godin speaks of a book Tom Peters wrote years ago. It was called the The Pursuit of Wow. Godin describes The Pursuit of Wow as “A visionary book that described why the only products with a future were those created by passionate people”.
What dawned on me? You may ask. It’s that simple. Purpose is passion.
One of the things Myles said in that unforgettable sermon went along the lines of: “The richest places in the world are graveyards. They are full of unwritten books, unpublished poetry, incomplete dreams… unfulfilled purpose.”
So the issue that plagued the better part of my teens and beyond was: What could I leave the world? I didn’t want to die with all the great stuff that was in me. But the question was what was that stuff!
If we go on Tom Peters’ belief that stuff is passion.
I’d tried many ventures. Most had been to generate an income. Eventually when I thought I’d found the perfect venture that would catapult me to a healthy revenue flow I called my dear friend Mercy and asked her: “Merce do you think I’ll make money from this business.”
And Mercy answered, “Hannah you’re asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking yourself is am I passionate about this business? That will determine how successful you’ll be.”
With regard to finding the right business for me- truer words were never spoken.
Purpose is passion.
That thing that you love and find such joy in- that is your passion. It is is your purpose.
That thing that causes people to say WOW when they experience you through your work- that is your passion. And that is your purpose.
That thing that overflows in you, that you’re just dying to give and share even if you receive no monetary return for it – that is passion that is your purpose.
That thing that drives you to enrich the lives of others even when it costs you precious time, sometimes money and yet provides no tangible reward but brings you inexplicable joy – that is your passion. That is your purpose. The joy you get from doing it- that is the reward. And in most cases you’ll find that you’ll earn a healthy living from living out your passion.
There were so many times I’d envy people who would glow in a very annoying manner and blurt out: “Oh I just LOVE what I do!” You’ll find that even the richest people will envy this bunch of irritants.
Why? There’s such fulfillment in doing what you love that no amount of money can bring.
After all is that not what we all seek – joy and happiness?
I can honestly say that finally I am doing what I love.
What makes my business different to the million others that offer what I do? I’m so passionate about what I do I’m willing to go to crazy edges for it.
This is not just about caring about customers and clients because those come and go – it’s about creating something that those that do come can walk away touched, changed, joyful.
Sometimes you may think – oh but if I do that how will I compete? First get the knowledge you need to be great at it – whatever it is. Second – don’t lose sight of what you love i.e. Don’t cut corners for money. When you’re passionate you will offer stuff that nothing can compete with. People will come back to you again and again because of the experience.
Maya Angelou once said this: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will ever forget how you made them feel.”
Here’s an example:
We have a seafood store in our neighborhood. I go there for my seafood not because it’s the most fantastic place to buy seafood but because of Gary the shopkeeper.
I’m a tremendous cook but I SUCK at making seafood. But not if I buy from Gary.
Usually when I walk into his store he’s locked away in his office – but when he sees me he comes out with a jovial, “Hello Hannah!”
And I tell Gary what I feel like eating that day. He takes me to whatever seafood I fancy for the day and tells me exactly how to make it. When I’m extra nervous about a new dish he calls me at home later to see if my concoction was successful (with his guidance it always is).
Will I go anywhere else for my seafood? Not as long as Gary lives and not as long I’m in driving distance of him.
For me, Gary doesn’t sell seafood, he shares his passion for seafood and in the mix just happens to peddle some seafood while he’s at it.
Gary is a kindred spirit for I too finally live the joy of doing what I love.
I go to bed thinking of it. I breathe it every moment I get and awake every morning joyful to have the opportunity once more to do what I love.
How did I stumble upon it? I was blessed enough to get to the place where I could dump all my inhibitions in the garbage and truly focus on my pulse – my heartbeat and that rhythm that has been playing in the background of my life for as long as I can remember.
I am no longer haunted. I’m free!
When you live out your passion, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you, you are fulfilling your purpose on this earth. And therein lies the joy we all seek.
Hannah Viviers is a financial journalist and founder of HV Public Speaking