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Align passions with purpose for extraordinary results


Source: Boulder County Business Report

Author: Theresa M. Szczurek

Basketball was his passion and the ticket out of inner city poverty. His goal, like that of many young people, was to be a professional athlete. André was on his way playing with the UCLA freshman team when the door to his "passionate purpose" suddenly slammed shut with a career threatening knee injury.

Rather than wallow in the pain of this loss, he let go of sports, went back to his core values, and searched for a new passion. He found he could help other people with his business skills, and so he charted a course to pursue the entrepreneurial dream.

After completing his college education and getting some work experience under his belt, the time was right. André Pettigrew met two partners with whom he started a management consulting firm. Over the next 10 years, it grew to a $14 million business with more than 200 employees. For three consecutive years, it was on the Black Enterprise 100 list of fastest-growing African American firms in the country.

André is like many people today who have received a call for change and are searching for more. People are asking:

  • How do I move on from my pain and make a meaningful difference while making a living?
  • How can I live out my values?
  • How can I find and pursue a passionate purpose and keep that fire burning?
  • Is there a way to balance the demands of my personal and professional life?
  • What is the real formula for success and for getting what I want in life?"

Especially in hard times like now, when economic downturn, layoffs, terrorism, war, and other challenges surround us, we need to ignite our spirit. Just as exercise strengthens our muscles and brings more fitness, adversity can strengthen who we are and stimulate a stronger life force. Adversity is a positive force for change. André’s injury could have crippled him; instead it initiated a new beginning.

Our challenge, and the challenge of all organizations, is to keep that human spirit flowing. But how? Our inner fire is ignited by pursuing a worthwhile purpose. It is the pursuit of passionate purpose, and not only its attainment, which brings satisfaction and meaning to life.

This is one of several findings from the research study, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose: Principles for a Meaningful Life. The goal was to refine a method that had already delivered results in life. By incorporating the experience of 80 research participants from all walks of life — those who had found and pursued passionate purpose and those who had not — a formula for a successful life emerged. It includes a process and principles for guiding personal and professional pursuits; a profile distinguishing pursuers from seekers; and a look at energizers to pack for the adventure and hindrances to leave behind.

The Process for Pursuing Passionate Purpose has four phases: Know and nurture yourself, the person; find passionate purpose; pursue purpose and assess progress.

Let’s look at how this process worked for André. He began the Assess Progress phase when the injury occurred. Realizing that surgery could not reopen this door, he let go and embarked on the Know and Nurture the Person phase. He discerned that he valued "earning his way each day," continuous improvement, and working toward a meaningful purpose. How could he use his business skills to serve these values? During the Find Purpose phase, Andre discovered the answer. As he opened to the possibilities and went with the flow, the right entrepreneurial opportunity found him. With confidence and commitment, he pursued purpose and produced great results.

Had André arrived? His journey brought him back full circle to the Assess Progress phase with the next set of challenges. He was paying a huge personal price for the business’ success; his family life was suffering. How could he balance it all? The book and workshop, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose explain how he turned his life into a series of learning experiences that positively impacted the business community, government and education fields. Having served as an executive at the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, Pettigrew is now assistant superintendent of Denver Public Schools.

What about you? What are you doing to nurture your passionate purpose? A passionate purpose is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your organization. Ordinary people can produce extraordinary results when passions are aligned with meaningful purpose.

Theresa M. Szczurek, a consultant, speaker, author and entrepreneur whose company sold more than $40 million, helps individuals and ventures thrive by "taking their passions and making them happen." Contact her at (303) 443-8674, , or visit for information on her book, workshop, and consulting.

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