All Articles Tagged "passion"
a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept
Passion is what helps define our purpose in life and oftentimes can be the thing that keeps us going when times become hard or uncertain. It goes without saying that passion is needed in everyone’s life. They say that you can never really experience real happiness until you discover your passion.
Do you know what your passion is? The time has come to lead a passion-driven life. Here are nine ideas to help you discover yours.
Facebook Envy: How I Learned To Stop Making Myself Miserable By Comparing My Life To That Of Others On Social Media
We increasingly seem NOT to be able to filter through what we see on social networks. Our Facebook events are loaded with graduation parties, weddings and new job celebration dinners. Our Facebook “friends” are uploading photos of their new homes, their exotic summer vacations in Bali, the newest degree to hang on their walls – while we scroll aimlessly through it all and sigh. No matter how right things might be going in our lives, sometimes we let social networking get to even the best of us, and make us long for something more because well, “they” seem like they’re happy and they’ve got it all.
We torture ourselves with social networks and wonder why we’re miserable. Life coach, Christine Hassler of TheDailyLove put it best in referencing speaker, Steven Furtick: We are often looking at “someone else’s highlight reel while we’re knee-deep in our own behind the scenes footage.” What we see is calculated and controlled. And what we feel when we see everyone else’s perfect lives splashed across our timelines should be conditioned to that very fact.
I had a hard time with this when I first came home from completing my MBA. I thought I would immediately find a great salary, apartment, and car and be living the same happy, go-getter, jet-setting lifestyle that quite a few of my friends had been fortunate enough to find directly out of college. I was very wrong.
That wasn’t the course my life took. Regardless of how many rings of employment I threw my WELL-qualified hat into, more often than not I never even heard back once I applied. I fell into depression without even realizing the depths to which I was sinking. I was angry all the time. I refused to leave the house. I sat around in my bathrobe, with a mug of hot chocolate (even during the summer months) watching The Food Network and reruns of A Different World. I scrolled through my Facebook and Twitter timelines aimlessly, watching everyone else live while I felt like I was dying inside. I felt like a failure. Why? Not because I actually was. I had gained two degrees within the course of seven years, gained three years worth of invaluable work experience within a dynamic graduate assistantship, and had gotten over my fear of driving. By any fair standard, I was no failure, but by comparison and low self-esteem I was a complete failure. I had allowed others’ highlight reels via social networks to mash my view of myself into a tiny bit of a thing, thus cementing the fear that I would never get out of this jobless, bathrobed slump.
What was my cure? Getting so busy living my own life instead of vicariously living every controlled moment of someone else’s. It really was that simple. I deactivated my Facebook account quite a few times when I felt that I was getting sucked into the comparison game. I looked at my life – where my strengths, gifts and passions were and decided to make the most of those things. I created my own website geared to the empowerment of young women of color and began to look for women from all walks of life with inspiring stories to tell and interviewed them.
It was the most liberating and life-affirming thing that I had done in quite a while because I was using my gifts, my values, to be a catalyst for inspiration. To help other young women avoid the very things I had previously succumbed to. It mattered very little now what others were doing. I was happy for “them.” But I was truly excited for me.
The times that we are most down on ourselves and envious of others’ lifestyles are when we’re too lazy, too fearful, too overwhelmed to get up and make something of our own lives. And I had been all of the above. What we then admire and envy in others is not their experiences, but their fortitude, their courage, their drive, their freedom to live.
Social networks are great tools when used for what they were originally intended: to catch up with old friends, to network, to market products, to share ideas. It’s when we internalize what we see via these networks that things begin to go left. If we simply choose to live well and fully, there will be no time for comparison because life will unfold into a blessed experience we could never have imagined.
La Truly’s writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe www.about.me/latruly.
This year’s Oscar nominations feature a diverse showing of nominees compared to the whitewash of years past. One of the most interesting stories of the award season is a small film’s journey to becoming the most unlikely of Oscar juggernauts. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” grabbed four Oscar nods – including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actress for Quvenzhané Wallis.
The indie film’s micro budget wasn’t the only thing that made its success at film festivals and the industry’s top award show a pleasant surprise. A collective of artists and filmmakers produced and built its sets by hand with found artifacts around the Louisiana coastline. The film’s stars, including Wallis, who was six years old at the time of shooting, are all first-time actors.
For first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin, Beasts is a passion project that paid off big time.
The Problem With Pursuing Profits
Americans’ devotion to capitalism has allowed them to buy into the belief that success means making money. Many start projects with the sole motivation of generating profits. But, research shows this approach is a mistake.
In his popular TED talk, “The puzzle of motivation,” career analyst Dan Pink presents evidence that pursuing monetary rewards dulls thinking and blocks creativity. Monetary rewards work best for straightforward problems that require a narrow focus. But today’s business world, where most problems require creative thinking, demands a different type of motivation.
“The new operating system of our business revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose,” Pink says. “Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters. Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”
Changing Your View of Success
Somewhere along the way we changed the definition of success. We associate it with larges amounts of wealth or a high level of fame. In reality, success is simply accomplishing what you set out to do.
Zeitlin set out to explore how the old folk tales and myths he grew up reading intersected with modern life. He tells the New York Times that his goal in making Beasts was to capture emotional facts that hurricane damage alone doesn’t convey. “What is the feeling of going through this loss of a place or of a parent or of a culture?” he asked. “How does that feel, and how do you respond emotionally to survive that?”
The result was a haunting film that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. It is different from anything else in the theaters. Imagine how his final product would have looked if he set out to make commercial film about land loss following a hurricane.
Success is a Side Effect of Creativity
The uniqueness of Beasts has critics heralding it as the best picture to come out of the film festival circuit in decades, and President Obama dubbing it his favorite film of 2012.
This supports Dan Pink’s theory that if you remove money as the incentive, you give your brain permission to think outside the box. Relieving yourself of the pressure to be profitable gives you the freedom to create unique solutions that grab attention, and generate income.
That’s not to say you should ignore monetary issues like budgeting constraints. Businesses survive off making more than they spend. The lesson here is that it is a mistake to make money your sole motivator. Working toward something bigger than monetary gains makes it much easier to be successful.
C. Cleveland is a freelance writer and content strategist in New York City, perfecting living the fierce life at The Red Read. She is at your service on Twitter (@CleveInTheCity) and Facebook (/MyReadIsRed).
I Know It’s For Better or Worse, But Damn: Are You Getting Too Comfortable In Your Relationship When It Comes To Your Looks?
Does your husband still look like the same man you married years ago? Have the washboard abs turned into a gut load of laundry? “For better or for worse” isn’t always fair, in fact it can get a little lazy (and not the good kind of lazy love Ne-Yo croons about). In her single “Dance For You” Beyoncé chants, “I wanna keep it how it is, so you can never say how it used to be,” but some women believe that once that vow is made, commitment and love should overcome any change in physical appearances. It’s one thing when a serious illness occurs or the natural life-changing moments like pregnancy and childbirth happen, but just because you’ve snagged yourself a husband or wife, doesn’t mean it’s cool to speed past comfortable all the way to “I don’t care.”
Attraction and sexual chemistry take priority to me in a relationship. I’m not being shallow, just honest. I need to look at my man and feel butterflies like I did the first day we met. Some might call that immature and make excuses like “passion fades blah, blah, blah” but I think that’s a cop-out for becoming way too comfortable, and way too much comfort kills relationships.
There’s a balance that must be maintained. It’s one thing for your man to wake up to you in a head full of flexi rods with pre-mascara and moisturizer. You shouldn’t have to keep up appearances like Whitley on A Different World where she’d wake up 15 minutes before Dwayne so she could apply some makeup and comb her hair so he wouldn’t wake up to bed head and morning breath. Still, it’s not fair to become accustomed to making zero effort just because your man SHOULD love you regardless. Did he meet you in a ponytail and sweatpants? I laugh remembering when I first met my boyfriend and refused to let him see me in any shoe with a heel less than four inches. Fast forward to six years later and he’s waking up to me with one eyebrow filled in at least a week out of the month. But the point is, whenever I have a little bit of extra energy and time, I make the effort. I do it because a watered down version of me is not what he signed up for, and he does the same for me. I make a note to avoid slipping into routines where we only talk about annoying co-workers and grocery lists; I remind him how hot he is when he least expects it. Now I haven’t been married for 20+ years, but I truly believe that passion doesn’t have to fade. Couples allow it to because they’ve been told that’s what’s supposed to happen. I’ve seen couples who have been married for months who can’t stand the sight of each other, and couples who have been married for decades who can’t keep their hands off one another.
The problem starts when women and men use marriage as an invitation to stop keeping themselves up as soon as the “I Dos” are done. You should want to preserve your sexiness for you, not just to snag a man. A little bit of weight gain or the decision to go natural after years of hair weaves is not out of the ordinary, but every once in a while, try to look like that woman that made his eyes pop out of his head and his palms sweat. Find that girl who was dancing to Beyoncé’s “Beautiful Nightmare” in the mirror Friday night while squeezing into her skinny jeans. I’d say about 25 percent of that passion is in your appearance, but 75 percent of it is your attitude. Would you be attracted to someone who clearly carried themselves like they don’t care?
In long-term relationships that little thing called life happens that slowly steals away the energy you may have once put into looking like a video vixen every day. Slowly your “beauty is pain” endurance is overwhelmed by your want to just be comfortable so you can actually enjoy yourself and get your daily tasks completed instead of struggling through painful arches that 5 inch heels can bring. But just because heel-less wedges kind of make you cringe doesn’t mean you have to bust out the cross trainers every day. Riding boots and flats can be cute too without looking lazy. Maybe you don’t feel like sitting in the salon for six hours so you can get flawless Kerry Washington waves, but that doesn’t mean you have to subject your man to rubbing his fingers over your silky satin bonnet every day. No one expects you to look 23 at 32, but making that vow also means that you vow to be the best wife you can be, which includes not taking his loyalty for granted–and vice versa.
When you’re in a long-term relationship with someone, it’s expected that body parts will start to hang a little lower, weight that used to melt from your frame will make itself comfortable across your waistline, and stretch marks will magically appear if you even reach for something the wrong way. It’s easy to let yourself go, but like any good relationship, your appearance deserves a little maintenance every now and then. A lingering look from another man can ignite a spark into a lukewarm relationship, but more importantly you’ll be surprised what a little extra effort can do for your own self-confidence. Before you wave the white flag of familiarity, make some effort to keep up appearances because although looks aren’t everything, love isn’t always enough.
What are some signs that you’ve gotten too comfortable in your relationship?
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .
Once upon a time, your career aspirations were the stuff of rose-colored fantasies. You wanted to be an astronaut, or a spy, or a fashion designer, or a model, or a princess, or…
But somewhere along the way, the voice of reason – via your mom or your aunt or the sweet old lady who lived down the street – presented its case, effectively bursting your cute, little, unrealistic bubble.
“That’s real nice, baby,” it cooed. “But in case that doesn’t work out, you really need to have a Plan B.”
Conventional wisdom says that, regardless of intended destination, we should proceed cautiously – with a pre-planned detour that will rescue us from imminent disaster should the road ahead become too treacherous.
But there’s a very real, life-altering problem with back-up plans: Their mere existence begs for acknowledgement and, ultimately, implementation. Eventually, that Plan B hijacks the whole operation and gives your real dream – your passion and purpose – the boot.
At the time, forgoing your plan to open an all-organic coffee shop with your best friend in favor of signing on as a pastry chef at your would-be competition (a logical Plan B) seemed liked the wise and mature choice. After all, you’re grown and you have grownup bills. But soon, the what-ifs started nagging; now you’re questioning whether you made the right decision after all.
And you should be.
Anyone who has ever achieved anything of value has overcome more obstacles than they ever could have envisioned at the outset of their journey. While navigating their respective paths to becoming a successful entrepreneur, C-level executive, published author, etc., these courageous individuals likely faced challenges that seemed initially insurmountable. But the lack of a viable exit strategy initiated a renewed sense of creativity and determination that propelled them forward.
In his early years of writing and directing plays in Atlanta, Tyler Perry put on shows before a handful of people for six years before selling out the venue in 1998 and launching what has become an iconic multimedia career. Though the first theater full of empty seats was discouraging, Perry’s decision to brush himself off and give it another go was likely understandable and even laudable to those around him.
But what about the fourth, fifth, and sixth disappointments? What about the fact that Perry ended up living out of his car for a few months because all of his income was tied into his productions? Was he crazy? Should he have quit?
And what about Matthew Knowles’ well-documented focus in developing then-fledgling R&B group Destiny’s Child, the vehicle that would ultimately transport daughter Beyonce into the upper eschelons of super-stardom. Should he have kept his six-figure gig at IBM, instead of quitting to manage the group full-time? Should he have continued to funnel time and resources into the budding artists, even when it meant losing his family’s home and nearly his marriage?
Today we can see clearly the fruits of Perry’s and Knowles’ single-minded labor. But while praising the victories, we fail to consider their previous battles and use them as training material for the trials we are certain to face in our own lives. Instead, when roadblocks appear on the horizon, we surmise that the challenge is too great, the cost too high, the sacrifice too large to endure.
And we move on to Plan B.
So what about you? Are you fulfilling your life’s purpose and passion?
Andrea Williams is a journalist and writer based in Nashville, TN. For more, follow her @AndreaWillWrite.
When most of us think about being wealthy, we think about the blood, sweat and tears that go into earning those millions (or billions, depending on how lofty your aspirations are). But some (mostly rich people) say it’s your attitude about money that is the determining factor in how rich you’re destined to be.
This article from Business Insider breaks down the differences in the ways that the rich and the middle class think about money. According to Steve Siebold, the author of How Rich People Think who conducted 30 years worth of interviews with millionaires, “most people are steeped in fear when it comes to money.” This prevents the acquisition of lots o’ cash.
A few things jump out right away because they ring true.
“Average people earn money doing things they don’t love. Rich people follow their passion.” If you take a look at any of the profiles of successful businesswomen we publish here on Madame Noire Business, you’ll see that they always refer to their work as a passion, making their businesses a true labor of love.
“Average people live beyond their means. Rich people live below theirs.” Regular folks will go to the mall, buying out the stores, and get their nails and hair done weekly so they look good when they go out on Saturday night. Meanwhile, creditors are blowing up their phones looking for overdue payments. When you’re rich, you can have a lot of stuff and still be rich enough to afford more stuff. When you’re middle class or working class, you cannot. If you live within your means, you’d be surprised by how much you can ultimately have.
“Average people would rather be entertained than educated. Rich people would rather be educated than entertained.” Half of this statement is spot on. I wouldn’t necessarily give rich people credit for being scholars. (Umm… Kim Kardashian?) But the overall gist is valid. People will talk about their favorite reality show with a blow-by-blow, scientific precision that comes with careful viewing. Ask them about that last episode of Frontline or 60 Minutes. Crickets.
“Average people love to be comfortable. Rich people find comfort in uncertainty.” I wouldn’t say that anyone finds “comfort in uncertainty.” But successful people understand that there’s a level of risk that comes with innovation. And from that risk, one can reap great rewards. Look at Oprah and OWN. She quit a bonafide hit TV show to start something new and precarious. And though she has had a number of financial losses and setbacks (coupled with blistering criticism and declarations of failure), she marches on. Will the celebrity interviews and new programming do the trick? We don’t know. But O keeps going. And maybe sometime soon, we’ll look back at OWN’s path to ratings triumph.
But there are some things on this list that were just pulled from the air.
“Average people think MONEY is the root of all evil. Rich people believe POVERTY is the root of all evil.” While you shouldn’t be a greedy jerk no matter what this article says (and it does say that in a couple of spots), rich people aren’t the only ones who think it’s bad to be poverty-stricken. Everyone thinks poverty is bad. Don’t be dumb.
“Average people have a lottery mentality. Rich people have an action mentality.” Many people that you see making their morning commute also have a Powerball ticket in their pocket, especially when the jackpot gets into the hundreds of millions of dollars. This despite the knowledge that they probably won’t win. You can hope for a lucky break and work hard to make your own success at the same time.
“Average people teach their children how to survive. Rich people teach their kids to get rich.” When was the last time you heard a (good) parent tell their kid, “When you grow up, you’re going to work hard and if you’re lucky, you’ll keep your head above water”? Trying to lay the foundation for your children to live a rich life isn’t something that just those with money do.
“Average people never make the connection between money and health. Rich people know money can save your life.” Really?! No. Just no.
Overall, what the comments get at is money, no matter how much you have today, should be used to earn more money tomorrow. There’s nothing wrong with nice things and enjoying some time off. But if you’re doing something you love, you don’t mind spending a great deal of time working at it until it’s setting you and your family up for today and for future generations.
What do you think of this list of rich people traits? Does it sell middle class people short?
A few years ago a male friend of mine and I met for lunch. We were laughing, eating, and having a good time as friends, as usual when we met up. After a while we started a friendly debate/conversation about men, women, and relationships. We joked about the different experiences we had and laughed about the mistakes we made along the way. Before this conversation ended, we brought up the subject of men and women as friends, and how both men and women have the tendency to misinterpret friendly gestures.
He told me that he was often discouraged to help a woman with certain things for fear of her taking the gentleman gesture the wrong way. “Just because a man opens the door for you or helps you with your grocery bags does not mean that he wants to sleep with you or engage in a relationship with you,” he said. “It simply means he was being nice.”
He also stated that a lot of women confuse compassion for passion. This was a powerful and thought-provoking statement that led me to ask myself if I was guilty of this. It also led me to examine the meaning of both compassion and passion as they relate to relationships. Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for someone who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by the desire to alleviate such suffering. It is also the act of showing kindness with assistance. As it relates to relationships, passion is defined as a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling that can lead someone to fulfill desires led by the flesh; an instance or experience of love or strong sexual desire. While the meanings of the words have some similarities, they are very different.
Compassion leads someone to help someone else. It is the desire for someone else’s well-being and putting that desire into action. Passion is lust or the strong desire for someone for physical engagement for individual satisfaction. It is the urge to satisfy one’s own needs rather than helping someone else. However, the action of showing compassion can stir up feelings of passion. When someone renders a nice gesture or assists someone in a time of desperation, it can lead the mind to believe that this person has a romantic interest in them. These feelings can derive in women during the transition of relationships, a financial transition period, or a transition in self-esteem.
When self-esteem is low from a heart-wrenching relationship or a good relationship that ended abruptly, and someone new comes along and shows compassion to assist with the transition in a variety of ways, a vulnerable state of mind and fragility may come into play. This confusion and vulnerability can come into play because of inadequate self-confidence, in who we are as women, or the lack of knowledge in whom we are.
As women, it is important to know and understand the difference between compassion and passion when engaging in any type of relationship or encounter with men because we don’t want to mislead ourselves. On the other hand, the human ego can also be a factor in confusing compassion for passion. I remember a time when I was leaving the grocery store, and I saw a man looking at me. I wasn’t sure as to why he was watching me, so I started to think that he was interested in me.
I remember I started thinking to myself that I didn’t have time to stop and talk, nor did I feel like being bothered. As I headed to my car the man approached me, and I immediately put my guard up to reject any romantic advance he was planning. He says to me, “Can I help you with your bags?” I respond with yes. After he helps me place my bags in my car he says to me, “Have a good night!” and walks away. I thought to myself, What?!? To my egotistical surprise, the man wanted to help me place my bags in my car because he saw that I was alone and it was late at night. I quickly confused a nice gesture for a romantic advance. Inside I was so embarrassed, but that experience was the direct result of my ego taking over my common sense and confusing compassion for passion. As I stated previously, it is important to know the difference between compassion and passion especially when dealing with men because we don’t want to mislead ourselves into believing that a man wants a relationship with us, have sex, so on and so on. We must learn to take nice gestures for what they are and leave them at that because the bottom line is, if a man wants to be with you he’ll let you know. Let’s learn how to appreciate the gentlemen things men do and encourage them to do more!
How many times have you confused compassion for passion? What were the results?
Liz Lampkin is the author of Are You a Reflection of the Man You Pray For? Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Lampkin.
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It started as a hobby, something I snuck away to do every now and then, a little something special just for me. This weekend, my hobby saw me hunkered down into what I’ve dubbed “my writing nook”, the little corner in my apartment in which I spend hours tapping into a computer keyboard, reading the day’s news, and getting a feel for what the world is talking about. Writing, you see, is my side hustle. What I do for pleasure, I also now do for pay. What started as the occasional blog post and short story for friends only is now a second prong in my career, complete with working primarily on nights and weekends, promoting my pieces on social media networks, and the keeping up with the go-go-go of being about my own business. That go-go-go is no different than the grind of a weekday nine-to-five and, lucky for me, both go hand-in-hand with building the skill set I hope will serve me through the trajectory of my career.
I once worked with a girl named Kelly who went as hard in her side hustle as she did in our office. Graphic design was her passion, she said, and the idea that she could turn it into profit (she provided freelance services for many well-known corporations) and add the experience as a bullet point on her resume provided a second wind of motivation. Kelly’s side hustle was a boon for her skill set, and it eventually landed her a full-time gig that more closely resembled her dream than the corporate world did.
It seems that more and more twenty-somethings comprise a Generation-Y workforce that keeps two sets of business cards, one printed for us by our employers and ones we have designed ourselves for the work we do on our own time.
As writer Larissa Faw noted in Forbes Magazine:
Today’s young professionals…aren’t easily categorized. I still can’t figure out what to prioritize on my LinkedIn profile. I am a journalist, marketing consultant, and co-partner for an internet company. All are equally important to my identity.
Perhaps that explains the little twinge I get when someone asks me what I do; I’m always compelled to make sure a person knows all that my career encompasses beyond my weekday title. Faw goes on to indicate that, “This generation of millennial does not identify with one company or career…[T]heir priorities are their own skill set.”
Side hustles are not just the stuff of dream chasing, but also indicators of the economy’s brunt on recent graduates and those looking for full-time work. For many, the extra gig is what makes the student loan payment every month.
Scan your social media profiles and you’re likely to find a friend or follower who is a personal trainer and a life coach and a blogger and a consultant and a web designer and a karaoke DJ and a photographer. Oh, and they’re working on their first novel. Last month, I wrote about being busy for busy’s sake and not being as diligent about having a full, well-rounded life as we are about creating solid careers. The side hustle is not the antithesis of that. It is, instead, a way of allocating our working hours to serve both our employers and our personal passions. It’s also not for a lack of focus. Millennials, it seems, are okay with clocking 40 hours a week at their full-time job and an additional 10-20 hours a week on a job that pays a few bills and brings them closer to their personal goals.
The concept of working for the same company from college graduation until retirement belong to the days of old, it seems. Perhaps the generational boom in professional versatility is due to Generation Y’s unprecedented access to resources that were once only available to corporations. Millennials are the first group to grow up connected, with Internet-capable computers in their classrooms and music available with the click of a mouse. Couple our seemingly in-built affinity for technology with social media, and we can build a worldwide sphere of influence without spending a dime on a marketing campaign.
The same graphic design programs once only affordable to big businesses with big budgets are now accessible to Kelly who can produce professional quality work from home. The aspiring film maker can now film and edit movies on his own and do it inexpensively (and preview the finished product on YouTube). For young professionals, the barriers to entry that once existed are all but extinct. Technology has likely triggered a shifting mindset as well. Our phones, our televisions, our music players and our computers have almost always been customizable. Why not our careers, too?
What’s your side hustle? How do you balance it with your full-time job?
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She was a thriving young professional whom I’ll call *Shelley. One year, when she was working in the marketing law department of her downtown firm, Shelley was assigned to advise a bright-eyed Ivy League law student during his stint as a summer associate at her company.
“I figured he was one of these smooth brothers who could talk straight and impress people. So we had lunch, and he had this bad sport jacket and a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and I thought: ‘Oh, here you go. Here’s this good-looking, smooth talking guy. I’ve been down this road before.’”
Shelley, a woman who was not one to fall all over a man at an instant, had already formed an impression of her mentee.
“His car had so much rust that there was a rusted hole in the passenger door. You could see the ground when you were driving…It would shake ferociously when it would start up. I thought, ‘This brother is not interested in ever making a dime,’” she said. She also mentioned that “he had no money; he was really broke. He wasn’t ever going to impress me with things. His wardrobe was kind of cruddy.”
When her mentee continually offered to take her on a proper date, Shelley often rebuffed his advances on the basis of professionalism. Not that Shelley was materialistic; she was simply making moves. With student loans to repay upon graduation and an exposure to the working-class life of her parents, she accepted a hefty starting salary at a large firm. She worked hard, but as her brother often noted, the high standards Shelley maintained in her professional life bled into her dating life as well.
When it comes to the dating game, I’ve heard this type of narrative a time or two, sometimes from the mouths of my girlfriends and other times through my own teeth. We were never without a flurry of reasons why Mr. Interested and Mr. Persistent weren’t up to par. “I don’t think my standards are too high,” the conversation goes. “I’m just looking for someone who’s a little more established” or, my personal favorite, “I just want someone who is on my level.”
The problem with this discussion? My girlfriends and I often based our “levels” on things that are fleeting: jobs that could be lost in an instant, titles that could be stripped away, and clothes that were likely purchased on maxed-out credit cards. At one time, those things signified a sense of ambition to us, and because we had earned our way to bright and shiny lives, the men who stepped to us would have to have done the same. How could it have been shallow and unreasonable? After all, we weren’t asking for more than we were able to give.
“People tend to look for status in a mate when they should be looking for potential,” writes Hill Harper in his 2010 book “The Conversation: How Black Men and Women can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships.” Harper notes that without “the window dressing” of flashy cars and cufflinks, men and women are deflated. A disheartening consideration, since without an intrinsic sense of passion and purpose, we allow the sheen of our on-paper lives to make or break us.
Men are not absolved from the search for status either. Just as fleeting as the coins and corner offices are the standards of beauty and hot bodies that men seek when they’re looking for the right woman. The concept of status for men, Harper notes, also involves the notion that some men don’t like to share status with women. A woman “with her own money and some authority can be intimidating to some men,” Harper writes. “If she’s the boss at work, that might very well mean that she’ll expect to be the boss in their relationship.”
Shelley’s mentee seemed to subscribe to Harper’s counterpoint on the subject of status: that a man should be inspired by a woman who can stand on her own two feet. Soon after the summer associate was hired, he and Shelley began trading personal stories in her office after business hours, with him sitting on the edge of her desk as she relaxed into the nook of her office chair. Interestingly enough, she learned that they shared a similar background and that he had a heart for serving the community. While his pursuits were not the most lucrative, he was insistent on seeking his passion and purpose at a grassroots level.
Shelley eventually obliged him in his request to take her to the art museum and to see Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing at the local movie theater. The two became an item. When Shelley took him to meet her family, her brother liked her new suitor, thought he was a nice guy, but likely to be among the men whom his sister would see a couple of times and never again. Eventually, Shelley and her former mentee were married, had two children, and settled into a white picket fence life that would be anything but.
Today, Shelley –whose real name is Michelle Obama— stands by her former mentee, Barack Obama, as he seeks re-election as the President of the United States. What was it that drew her to him in those early years? “He was always special, you know? And not special, like, ‘He’s gonna be important, he’s gonna be president.’ He was special in terms of his honesty, his sincerity, his compassion for other people,” the First Lady told Katie Couric in 2009. She went on to extol a few words of advice for single women:
“Don’t look at the bankbook or the title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul. Look at how the guy treats his mother and what he says about women. How he acts with children he doesn’t know. And, more important, how does he treat you? When you’re dating a man, you should always feel good. You should never feel less than. You should never doubt yourself.”
With this understanding and the benefit of our own hard-fought experiences, my girlfriends and I have learned to shift our focus to the things that count in a man. While success is the result of hard work and there’s no problem with enjoying its spoils, we should place more value on a potential mate’s sense of purpose than on his current position. Is he driven solely by material gain, or does he have a heart for something deeper? His passion could be coupled with an understanding that success doesn’t come in an instant and that he may have to work in the mailroom for a while, earning his way to the top floor by learning his field from the bottom up. It could mean working as a community organizer to get a sense for the individuals who would eventually comprise his constituency. (Even at that first family dinner nearly twenty years before his inauguration, President Obama told Michelle’s brother Craig that he’d set his sights on the White House.) More than “What does he do?” and “Where does he live?” the questions my girlfriends and I ask each other are about how our men make us feel, where their passions lie, and what makes our men special.
How do you gauge passion and purpose in a potential mate?
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Turns out the many unfulfilled employees that go to work each day may end up ahead of the few that find true fulfillment and purpose in work. According to CNN Money, research shows that people who have the freedom to be their complete selves at work and can connect what they do to a larger purpose, are by and large happier than the average employee. Unfortunately, happiness does not always lead to success.
The report goes on to state that happiness equates to a deeper connection to how the work is conducted. These people may care more about the mission of the organization than their supervisor, and this can make them difficult to work with. They take the job very seriously as it embodies who they are, and this overenthusiasm make create hard to handle employees. In their minds, asking them to compromise on an idea or strategy is also asking them to compromise on everything they believe in. Subsequently this can create work tension.
Unlike the enthusiastic employee, the average employee simply cares about keeping their job and a professionally friendly relationship with their boss and fellow employees. In essence, they are simply following orders to get work done. In some instances, as long as the work is done correctly and on time, the average employee can make a better worker than the overly committed one.
It can be a conundrum for those that actually enjoy what they do and those still searching for the work they enjoy. What’s the point of searching for job fulfillment if the passion you finally find in work only becomes a hindrance?
What makes it even worse is that being a bit more open unprofessional by providing certain details about your personal life may lead to a better work life as well. The employee that chooses to work hard instead of fraternize with the rest of the work crew may be seen as “anti-social” and the person no one wants to work with. Meanwhile the guy who has told the entire office his sad, tragic life story may receive more sympathy and easier treatment.
Managing the work world has never been easy. Finding the happy balance between passion and simply getting the work done can be elusive, for those that do what they love full-time, this balance is essential to making sure you succeed. For those who can’t seem to separate the work commitment from personal values, it may be best to do the work you love part-time or on a freelance basis.