How to Pursue Purpose and Passion in Work (and Life)

I recently saw this graphic on Facebook and it reminded me of Ken Robinson’s great book: The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. Thinking about our passion and our careers is not always something we do, as work often leads us away from our passions in life. Certainly there are some people who have successfully married their passions with their professional lives – this is what Robinson would call being in your “element”.

Robinson makes a case for exploring our passions and creativity to help us find where we belong professionally. Robinson writes about highly successful people from all walks of life, many of whom did not do well in school, who found communities of like-minded people, and created their lives by following their passions.

I recently came across an article by John Coleman on the Harvard Business Review site, You Don’t Find Your Purpose – You Build It. I appreciate how Coleman frames the discussion of purpose:

In achieving professional purpose, most of us have to focus as much on making our work meaningful as in taking meaning from it. Put differently, purpose is a thing you build, not a thing you find. Almost any work can possess remarkable purpose.

I agree with Coleman that purpose is something we build in our lives. When I am working on a recruiting project I am creating conversations with a wide variety of executives. I’m always fascinated by the unexpected connections we make with each other when we create conversations that allow space for discovery. In doing this, each of us can create what Robinson calls our “tribe” – a community, a company, a grouping of people who share our passion, desires and purpose.

As the workforce transforms, more and more of us will pursue multiple careers during our lifetimes. Discovering and building purpose in work is a creative and relational process, and that in of itself is joyful. I can get passionate about that!

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