I often hear people say stuff like they have no idea where their passions lie or no clue what their purpose is. Others say they are still “searching” for their passion or purpose. Well, we should start with differentiating what purpose is and what passion is. Look at purpose this way. It is using all you have acquired whether it is education or experience or innate abilities to serve others. Purpose is also the moral DNA that defines a person or organisation’s character and outlook on social, political, economic, and environmental issues. It is the reason Nike has got no problems speaking up against societal issues, because they stand for equality be it racial or gender equality. Here is what their purpose reads, “our purpose is to move the world forward through the power of sport.”
Take for example Kellog Food Company with their purpose statement “nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive.” Now let us look at that definition again and focus on the environmental. It is open secret that a major issue today worldwide is keeping a sustainable earth while conducting business. It is their purpose that informs decisions such as their investing in millions of dollars, to help rice farmers reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Passion on the other hand is personal to you; the powerful emotions you feel for something. For example, say a guy named Tunde is passionate about reading management books and observing customer’s behaviour in the public place. Unlike Purpose, this is something personal to Tunde. It is what he spends a lot of his time doing. He is the only one that enjoys and feels good once he starts reading or finishes a book.
Imagine Tunde goes one further and decides to use his passion to service others. Like conducting research on behalf of small companies, proceeds to help Start-ups with strategic plans. What Tunde has done is use his passion to service others. He has channelled his passion, abilities, experience towards a purpose.
That is exactly what Kellog’s have done. They are passionate about making nutritious breakfasts and snacks. Now they have turned that passion to serve others including investing in sustainable means to fulfil their promise of flourishing and thriving for their target audience sustainably.
Your purpose is your choice, and you must be intentional about it. It is what you pay attention to, that grows. It is a freely chosen task and what you decide to give meaning to.
So, you have a passion? Great! Should you start a business based on your passion? Well, my advice? Passion is good, but the sweet spot is when you can align your purpose, your passions, and your talents. For more on discovering your purpose, I strongly recommend the purpose driven life book by Rick Warren. Why? Because I strongly believe that connecting to the supreme being (God) and getting revelation is the first stage in your journey to identifying or connecting with your purpose. Here are 3 paths you can use to develop your purpose.
THE SELECTED PATH
Ken Blanchard was credited with the phrase “what we give our attention to, grows.” If you are clueless about your purpose, still in the searching or confused stage, this path is recommended for you. A freely chosen task. What you decide to invest yourself into and give meaning to. Selecting this path entails being intentional, deliberate, and clear on what it is you want to dedicate your time to. Once you can picture that person you want to be, you can then begin to take actions to realise your new goal. I have a particularly good friend that red Economics and then did her MSc in management only to realise she was not getting fulfilment at her job. She had worked in a couple of top financial institutions in between but felt out of touch with her purpose. Until she took the time and decided that she was going into culinary did she connect with her purpose of creating memorable moments on special occasions. She is a top chef now serving top government parastatals and top restaurant brands. But she freely chose that task and started making moves that got her there. Like investing in many cook cooks from famous chefs around the world, going back to school to learn the rudimentary of acquiring culinary skills. She stuck to it and today is a major player in her geographical region. This path is not for the faint hearted, fickle minded. I should add though, that you cannot be reckless when taking this path.
THE REVIEW PATH
This requires you to look back and put together things you value in life and in yourself with what we do, to identify your calling. The review path identifies your purpose by looking within. You start by asking yourself questions about your background, where you are currently at, what makes you unique, and where future opportunities lie that you can take advantage of. This path is beneficial for those that have bagged experiences either in their vocation or profession. A good example is Harvard Professor Mihir A. Desai’s father who spent majority of his career in Marketing Pharmaceutical products. At 58, he turned to finance for a rewarding second career where he combined his industry knowledge with his newfound financial expertise as an Equity Research Analyst, helping others build wealth.
THE OUTLOOK PATH
This is the opposite of the review path. This approach’s focus is external, requiring you to look into the future, take stock of the broader ecosystem in a space you are interested in playing, and then assessing your potential for impact. It is about making sense of the future and gearing towards being a player in that field. For example, Innoson Motors, a Car Manufacturer based in Nigeria is currently into automobiles powered by diesel or PMS. The future in automobiles is clean energy and efficiency. Innoson motors will do well to plunge into manufacturing of batteries for electric cars, start gearing their resource towards self-driving cars.
As a company can manoeuvre and develop a purpose, so can you. What must happen is stepping outside the comfort zone regularly, be resilient in case of failures or mistakes and learn from them and get better. But you will have to be intentional, purposeful, and decisive. Regardless of the path you take, revelation plays a huge role in your journey, and connecting with your Creator will see to that.