Passion + Purpose = What???

I truly believe that everyone has a God-given purpose while they are on this Earth.

However, I think one has to determine what they are really passionate about before they can discover their purpose.

“What am I passionate about?” and “What is my purpose?” are two questions that I have asked myself countless times in my adult life.

These two simple, yet thought-provoking, questions have forced me to truly assess my life. Some of us know the answer right away; some of us don’t know the answer until later in life.

Often times, people associate their purpose with their current job/career, but their jobs/careers usually don’t align with their passion and/or purpose.

When I asked myself these questions, I already knew that I had a passion for mentorship and empowering the youth to achieve their highest potential. However, I didn’t know what my purpose was in life.

At that time, I was working at JP Morgan Chase as an Internal Auditor and I had no sense of direction in my life and felt stuck in my career. --- Have you ever felt that way before?

This uneasy feeling bothered me until I read the book, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren.

The one profound thing that stuck with me from this book was when Rick Warren touched on the benefits of purpose-driven living, which includes the following:

“Knowing your purpose gives meaning to your life…Knowing your purpose simplifies your life…Knowing your purpose focuses your life…Knowing your purpose motivates your life…Knowing your purpose prepares you for eternity…”

This passage empowered me to determine what my true purpose was in life and from there; grind mode was in FULL effect.

I read books about various professions, researched the internet about discovering one’s purpose, met with various people to get their perspective, and even stalked people’s LinkedIn pages to see their career progression over the years.

At one point during my research, I thought that I wanted to begin a career in the non-profit sector and I even thought about going back to school to become a social worker. However, these professions didn’t really interest me enough to fully commit to them.

It wasn’t until I took a volunteer basketball coaching position at Linden-McKinley High School in Columbus, Ohio that I became aware of my purpose. I’ve always wanted to be a coach, but I didn’t know what to expect and how it would make a lasting impact on my life.

In this role, I am much more than a coach. I am a mentor, a teacher, a motivator, a big brother and even a father figure in some cases. I am able to utilize basketball to reach these boys and assist them in developing into young men.

As a result, I’ve developed a leadership and development program called B.R.I.C.K (Brotherhood. Respect. Intelligence. Community. Knowledge.), where as a team, we do community service, take field trips, perform goal setting activities, have heart-to-heart conversations about life, and much more. I am also responsible for the college recruiting efforts for our team, where, in my 2 years of coaching at Linden-McKinley, I have assisted 3 of our players receive either partial or full scholarship to college to further their academic and athletic careers.

Towards the middle of my 2nd year of coaching, I discovered how to make that lasting impact on other’s lives. That purpose and passion I mentioned earlier has led me to begin working to become a Principal. By being around the players for just 6 months, it really showed me what an impact that I had on their lives.  

As a Principal, I can make that same impact on an entire school and even the surrounding community. To me, this role would be a perfect alignment with my passion, which will allow me to fulfill my purpose in life.

 Even though I had discovered my purpose, I was still working at JP Morgan Chase and at a crossroad in my career as an auditing professional. My manager and I had a rocky relationship. I was bored with my job and I knew I needed a change ASAP.

Luckily, the coaching gig helped me suppress my urge to leave the Bank and allowed me to somewhat fulfill my purpose. It also gave me more time to come up with a strategic plan to align my purpose with my career.

Here is what I knew at the beginning stages of my journey:

  • I knew that I didn't want to be a teacher.
  • I knew that I wanted to work with urban youth, particularly young men of color.
  • I knew that I had a passion for mentoring and empowering the youth.
  • I knew that I needed to get a job in a school district and/or an organization with a focus of working with the youth in order to fulfill my purpose.

So I asked myself, “How can I utilize my current skills to align my purpose with my next job?”

After doing my research, interviewing for a few positions, and praying to God, I had an “Ah-ha” moment, when I found out that the Columbus City Schools (the same school district that I coach in) had an Internal Audit Department.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was lying in bed exploring the District’s website and stumbled upon the Internal Audit Department’s webpage. I read the bios of each staff member, read every audit report that they published, and Google searched the District to learn more about it.

And about a month later, the District posted a job for a Senior Internal Auditor position.

To be honest, I was hesitant to apply for the position, because of my lack of knowledge of the public sector, the reputation of the District in the Columbus area, and the limited resources offered by the District as compared to JP Morgan Chase.

However, this was the opportunity that I wanted for the longest, so I applied for the position.

To make a long story short – Within weeks of applying, I had an interview, I received an offer and I eventually accepted the position.

Although the position wasn’t exactly what I wanted, it gave me an opportunity to work in a school district and execute my plan from there.

In the end, it was win-win for me. More pay, better benefits, and more visibility in my desired profession.

I’m about 8 months into my position as a Senior Internal Auditor with the Columbus City Schools and I’m loving every minute of it.

This position has given me the opportunity to work alongside high-level District administrators. It’s given me an understanding of the inner workings of the District, and provides me with the opportunity to get my foot in the door to execute the plan that I initially set out for myself.

The one thing that I learned from all of this is that it is a JOURNEY. There were many ups and downs, there were times where I felt like I was wasting my time and times where I wanted to give up. However, I wouldn’t change anything for the world.

I am more focused than I ever been in my life…I feel empowered to make my purpose a reality…and I am less stressed about “work” ever since I discovered my purpose.

I plan on making that leap of faith in becoming a Principal for the District in the near future. I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for me and the peaks and valleys that I will go through during the journey.

Here are a few “seeds” to consider if you are trying to determine your purpose:

  • Be honest with yourself and assess your current job/career
  • Determine what your passion and purpose is
  • Envision yourself living in your purpose
  • Have patience and trust the journey
  • Develop a strategic plan with measureable action steps that span at least 3-5 years
  • Utilize LinkedIn to connect with people in your desired profession as a way to understand their career progression
  • Meet up for coffee or lunch with someone in your desired profession to truly understand the field that you would like to get into
  • Volunteer or get a part time gig in your desired profession in order to get first-hand experience, where you can add value to that particular company/organization, and have something to put on your resume for when you apply for the full time position