Living Passion & Purpose: a 21st Century challenge

Working as a Passion Development Coach, I work with those that are confused about their life’s mission. Many are unclear about what their Passions are, what their purpose is, and as a result, their own individual value. This is a depressing state of affairs, and one that truly becomes pronounced when we look at global stats suggesting that this is an issue that faces more than half of us today.


It is being recognized as a 21st Century problem.


We know this because there has been no other time where so many of us could afford to concern ourselves with, or contemplate the notion of, living a Purpose-driven life. Historically, people were set up in two main camps:


a) Born into cultures/societies that shaped a purpose-driven life-style, such that it didn’t occur to anyone to question having a sense of purpose, OR

b) Raised in a class system of some sort creating a black and white picture of who you were and how you made a living.


In the latter case, socioeconomic and cultural structures limited and prohibited choice, ambition and desire. Regardless of either end, the net result was the same: you were born into what you did. 


The birth of the industrial revolution began the disruption of that entire thought system. Western culture brought in a new way of working where personal value entered the stage and was compensated for accordingly. This wave of new technology being adopted in a global fashion soon started to spawn this reality for other cultures and communities around the globe.


Consumerism brought on through the capitalistic infrastructure played a strong role in creating a rise in individualism in the West. Creating a comfort standard where people were realizing more choices than ever before. A realization that evolved into a life of its own; carrying us further into the relatively new understanding that we can live a life by design. Although there were still external cultural influences that dictated to some of us who we were to become, more and more of us were able to break free and see a lifestyle that would have been non-optional in any other time period.


As the Information Age continued to evolve alongside the Technical and Digital Revolutions, we now find ourselves in a current time where there are more opportunities to create revenue engines that support increased financial lifestyles. We see this largely in the growing gig economy whereby we can now entertain a side hustle that creates higher revenue support via signing on to the likes of Uber or AirBnB, or the large online businesses that continue to rise. The disruptive nature of these new platforms allows individuals to make choices about their lifestyles to a degree that was before not possible.


The challenge with this ever changing interface, is that we are in a position where there are so many options now available that it is becoming hard to see the forest through the trees.


I meet people everyday for example that are not quite sure, and are struggling with, how to support both their need to pay their bills and the human intrinsic needs of finding higher levels of meaning in their lives. I also meet people who fundamentally have a flaw in their notion of the value of money. Believing that they must be practical and select pursuits of financial degrees but in the same breath are not happy with their lives and experience high levels of dissatisfaction in their lives. That being said, I also meet people that are quite happy making a lot of money, and are intrinsically driven by what they have done in life and express all of the behaviours that suggest they are extremely living lives that are happy and fulfilled. The lesson here is that we are all individuals and are motivated by different things than one another. To cast a net over an entire population and say that one version of success is the road to happiness was flawed the day it was suggested. Yet we have seen ourselves seduced by the notion of money and all the 'joys' it can bring. To me, our value systems are going through a re-set. We have been enthralled in it long enough now to know that the dream is only but a dream, and the flaws are in the seams of the very garment.


We are realizing a time where all generations simultaneously are currently facing this brave new world, and trying to figure out and forecast their placement in it. It is a reality that is universal to those that inhabit this 21st Century Western reality.


But... as that famous book suggests.... "What got us here, will not get us there"


Since the birthing of the industrial revolution, our institutions have not advanced by much – even if our technologies and industries have. I have come to understand that in the West we have designed an infrastructure (Education) that was never intended to focus on individual growth or personal development. The Education system as we know, is designed to create standardized knowledge to allow us the ability to function within, and add value to, systems that assist the capital model that aligns with the values of current industry. Sure you develop skills and tools en route to that end goal, but they are not skills and tools related to how to intrinsically be fulfilled. Although I'm sure there is an elective you can take if one was interested enough.


The education system functions as the system that educates our future knowledge worker, a concept coined in the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. What it is not intended to do is to help the individual realize their personal ambitions, or connect with what makes them happy. It is designed to help us become successful candidates, allowing us to get jobs to feed the economic engine of society and as a direct consequence will allow us the opportunity to live decent and  comfortable lives. Although neither are garaunteed in our current climate as the rates in which graduates are getting jobs directly related to their fields of study continue to decline.


Nothing about this is about focusing on the personal development of the individual. This is architecting human production and performance.  That's it. A metric entirely used to suit the needs of industry.


This is not a bad thing, as we need industry to feed the engine of production and progress which is the backbone of Capitalism. However what it does, is leave us vulnerable to an imbalance in our value infrastructure. This becomes ‘bad’ when we are left only to value the economic engines without feeding the individual need for growth, value, autonomy and purpose. An increasing pressure that is spawning from the many facets of society in our new age of disruption.


 We have aimed to fill this gap through an industry known as ‘self-development’ or ‘self-help’. The challenge here, is that the entire Self-Development industry is particularly fragmented. It would be of considerable value to incorporate self-development into our institutions (both education and corporate) as a standard to enable higher levels of job satisfaction and happiness in our student communities and then eventually, our organization communities.


The challenge is, we are dealing with system’s that still function at the level it did when it was first created. There are many studies done on this, and is a major focus of present day thought leaders. It is becoming increasingly evident that there is a need to bridge the gap between institutions that were designed to function at the rise of the industrial age, with the radically different and changing needs and behaviors of the 21st Century.


When we consider integrating personal development into human production two things must be considered:


1.   The ability to customize protocols to attend to individuality

2.   The ability to maintain that there is more to intelligence than what we previously considered. Re-evaluating and changing our standard testing models


The goal here is primarily to peel off some of the layers in evaluating paths to purpose, and identifying if there is a way to incorporate our individuality into a broader discussion of where to look to identify purpose in the avenues and professions we decide to pursue. Even if that means that we enable a generation that can pave their own pathways outside of current industries. Isn't this how innovation is bread anyway?


The information age has spawned a new platform of increasingly newer products, services and value ads.


It has also encouraging new levels of competition that has commoditized entire industries, to created new models that have not existed previously.


I personally feel a shift, drawing us into a value age. One by which we can create newer forms of infrastructure based on value, and attracting customers through value. As a custom nation has formed in many ways and continues to form, there are increasingly newer opportunities for us to be creative, and think outside the box. The only concern here is how to monetize these new creations, as services evolve and infrastructures change at exponential rates. 


How do we combine our need for purpose with a dynamic changing job platform?


This is one of the questions that we are evaluating. One answer that is readily available is the need for us to understand how to do and teach Personal Intelligence. Which is defined by the dynamic interplay between personal perceptions, and intangible concepts such as emotional intelligence, natural optimal states, individually defined passion, purpose and meaning.


Providing a platform for individuals to learn more about themselves to understand the right recipe of their collective motivators can allow a more empowered society enabling the pursuing of niches that authentically brings to surface drivers for optimal performance in said niche. Creating creative outlets that bolster society and meet the fundamental psychological needs in higher levels of people.


The value that these drive is currently unmatched by today’s climate. As we conclude that various facets of intelligence exist, and that people are motivated by more than just extrinsic drivers there is an opportunity for us to re-shape and shape up future generations that find roles that are intrinsically rewarding. Giving rise to new standards of health and quality living, as well as social interactions and performance.


More about the author:


Kira Day, CCP is Founder and Lead Passion Development Coach at The Passion Centre.

For more information on her project, The Passion Centre please go to: