“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself” —Viktor Frankl, Author of Man’s Search for Meaning

How many times have you been given the simple advice to just “follow your passion” and it will all work out?

If you follow the traditionally bland success literature, you’ll probably come across this advice in one form or another about 100 times.

OK, so you decide to follow (what you think) is your passion.  You open that coffee shop & obsessively work until you burn yourself out 3 or 4 years down the road.   At that point, you might even start hating that cute shop you worked so hard to build.

This year in Davos at the World Economic Forum, health experts warned of Global burnout syndrome.  Sadly, drug treatment for depression is at an all time high around the world, and worrying levels of burnout have been detected all over the globe.  At the conference, some experts suggested that, in the future, the greatest challenge to the global health system will be stress-related disease.

Chasing Purpose Instead of Blindly Pursuing a Fleeting Passion

Following your own personal passion at the expense of everything (and everyone) else is inherently selfish; it is all about you.  As author and speaker Tim Sanders points out in his new book, Today we are Rich, purpose is all about others.  He goes on to say that you’ll detect your purpose at the intersection of your capabilities and “make a difference opportunities.”  You recognize outside problems & needs that your skills can address.

What happens when leaders start to pursue purpose over passion?

  • Bill Gates leaves Microsoft and revolutionizes philanthropy
  • Business leaders around the world start investigating cleantech & ways to harmonize profits with social good…improving the environment and making money along the way
  • Over zealous business coaches, parents, mentors & teachers start talking more about purpose and less about vague “passions,” leading to balanced assessments of success & a reduction in the global burnout trend
  • Self help gurus and coaches start listening to Tim Sanders, economists read Umair Haque, marketers follow Bob Gilbreath & HR leaders pick up Dan Pink.