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On Being Purpose-Driven


After getting stuck in a bad relationship, Theresa Szczurek broke it off and pursued goals she'd long put on hold. She went back to school, earned her doctorate and co-founded a business that eventually raked in $40 million a year. Today she's an in-demand business consultant and speaker.

She changed her life by finding her passion and pursuing it with a focused action plan, she says in "Pursuit of Passionate Purpose," to be released in January.

Her action plan hinged on these key points:

Polarity. "Opposites exist in all of life — including (within) ourselves," Szczurek said. Don't let conflicting agendas stop you from reaching your goal. At some point we all experience tension "between our head and heart, between making a difference and making a living, between family and work."

Goal achievers integrate those differences by effectively managing their time.

When opposites are self-created and self-destructive, take a different tack. For example, you may be talented, but insecure or lazy. The polar opposites are your potential vs. the career rut you're stuck in.

Her advice: Identify a trait that holds you back, and cultivate the opposite quality. The approach worked for people as varied as James Mason, Oscar Hammerstein II and W.C. Fields. Hammerstein conquered laziness, and Mason and Fields overcame insecurity and stage fright.

"The way to work with obstacles is to admit them, not repress them," Szczurek said.

Focus. The object here? Divide and conquer. Commit to a destination, "divide the journey into parts and conquer the whole," she said.

Author Jim Collins used this approach in writing his most recent best seller, "Good to Great."

"Doing a gigantic project like 'Good to Great' is like walking across the U.S., from San Diego to Maine," Collins said. "You just get up in the morning and you walk 10 miles, and then you stop. There's the whole process."

To visualize it, Collins moved a small tag across a U.S. wallmap, simulating his progress each day. Constantly seeing where he was in relation to his destination, Maine, helped spur him on.

Such exercises fuel Collins' life-long motivation. "I'm very satisfied with my life," he said, "but unsatisfied with my achievements. My life is a perpetual dissatisfaction, and that's what drives me."

Attraction. You attract what you expect. "Be clear about what you want, visualize getting it and take action to attain it," Szczurek said. "Heart energy or passion about the outcome is the vital (link)."

Allowance. Keep focused on the end point, but be flexible about how to get there.

To preserve cash flow while starting up a technology business, an entrepreneur generated extra income by consulting part time at a local hospital. At first, the option seemed counterproductive, taking valuable time away from the startup. The consulting fees, though, brought him through a rough patch. He eventually grew his startup into a $300 million business with 3,000 employees. Cord Cooper

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