How your passion can lead to discovering your purpose

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“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” – 2 Tim 2:5

A Misfortune May Be the Key to Unlocking your Purpose
Find your red bicycle moment; it will lead to your purpose

“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” – 2 Tim 2:5

I recently got a thoughtful gift from a friend who visited me from London. “You love books, and you love cycling. So, I guessed a book about cycling would be a good present for you.” She was right. On the first introductory page of the Black Champions in Cycling, I found one of the profound sports stories that can help you discover your purpose.

Whose story best to start a book about “Desire, Discrimination and Determination,” than that of the greatest, former boxing heavyweight world champion, Muhammad Ali.

At 12 years of age, Cassius Clay proudly cruised around in his prized red Schwinn bicycle. One day, returning from the annual Louisville Home Show, the young Clay found his bike was missing from where he had left it. The weeping Clay told a police officer that he would “whup” the thief when he discovered who it was.

The policeman, Joe Martin, who happened to be a boxing trainer, told Clay he should learn how to fight before finding the thief. From that day and for the next six years, Joe Martin trained Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) to become a professional boxer. And the rest, as they say, was history.

Muhammad Ali became arguably the greatest boxer of all time and used his passion for serving his purpose of advocating for social justice.

“Over the years, I’ve learned that the first idea you have is irrelevant. It’s just a catalyst for you to get started. Then you figure out what’s wrong with it, and you go through phases of denial, panic, and regret. And then you finally have a better idea, and the second idea is always the important one.” – Arthur van Hoff (Founders at Work)

I was fond of the sciences during my early high school years, which made my parents believe I would become an engineer or a doctor. During the summer holidays of my third year of high school, I was furious at the thought of my parents not being able to pay for my “science education.” That was my “red bicycle moment.”

I asked what field of study is best for preparing me on how to manage money. Over that three-month-long holiday, I immersed myself in the recommended introductory accounting and bookkeeping text. About ten years later, I completed my chartered accountancy exams in Nigeria.

While working in Myanmar, I used writing as my pass-time activity during my morning commute with a driver. After a few months, I realised my writing aptitude was growing, and I was enjoying it. Today, I have published my first book, and the newsletter you are reading is my medium for sharing my experiences and learnings to inspire you in your journey to discovering your highest potential.

The following five attributes from Muhammad Ali’s story resonate with me, and I believe they will help you find your purpose.

1) Find your passion.

Find something you are good at and that you love. Muhammad Ali’s passion was boxing. It is the most crucial part of finding your purpose.

“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” – Jon Bon Jovi

2) Discover, and believe in yourself.

Know what you are good at, know what excites you and believe in yourself. Muhammad Ali called himself the greatest and became so.

“You don’t know what you need in your life until you figure out who you are.” – Jay Shetty

3) Have a resilient attitude.
Adversity and misfortune usually reveal the path to our purpose if we find the strength to persevere.

“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself, that determines how your life’s story will develop.” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

4) Be alert to, and make the best of opportunities.
Muhammad Ali made the best of the chance Joe Martin presented to him.

“Luck is when an opportunity comes along, and you are ready for it.” – Denzel Washington

5) Focus on serving others.
Service is the one-word definition of purpose. Always look for opportunities to help others.

“We find ourselves when we lose ourselves in the service of others.” – Gandhi

Operating in our purpose will unlock our authentic self, making us more fulfilled and engaged, leading to higher productivity. And in the end, we contribute to making society better.

So, if the thing you are doing now does not feel like your purpose, I encourage you to:

“Open yourself to the world around you and to the world within you and see new opportunities arise.” – Sir Ken Robinson

Today, take the first step in the quest of finding your most authentic self that will unleash your passion and purpose.

Two (2) Book recommendations

I have always seen most fitness books or programs presenting more fads than fundamentals. But, the following books changed my perspective.

a) The Last Lecture: Lessons in Living –– by Randy Pausch, Jeffrey Zaslow (Rating: 5 stars)

Randy Pausch flipped the script at Carnegie Mellon when he delivered his talk about “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” instead of the traditional theme of the “last lecture” – mull over death and what matters most to him.

Randy’s lecture was about the “importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling the dreams of others, and seizing every moment.”

b) The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything –– by Ken Robinson, Lou Aronica (Rating: 5 stars)

“Being good at something is not a good reason to spend your life doing it.”

The Element is Sir Robinson’s almost definitive strategy guide on how we can find our passion. Sir Robinson gleaned stories of well-known artists, entrepreneurs and innovators to provide a blueprint of how we can find our element.

I recommend this book if you want to know what you have an aptitude for and that you love to do – “your element.”

Three (3) Citations
These three quotes explain the link between passion and purpose and how the former leads to the latter.

“Your passion becomes purpose when you use it to serve others.” – Jay Shetty
“If you can’t figure your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose” – Bishop T D Jakes

“If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson (TED Talk, 2006)

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