I love listening to Dr. Cornel West because he’s brilliant. A few nights ago, I saw him on Tavis Smiley’s show. One of the things that West pointed out was that we should remember that Dr. King was—as his FBI file stated—the most dangerous man in America.
Now, most of us don’t usually think of Dr. King as dangerous, largely because we know him for his philosophy of non-violence. True, but as Dr. West pointed out, this was what made him dangerous. Here was a man who was not motivated by fear, hatred and greed. Rather, Dr. King’s message was one of courage, love and forgiveness. Dr. West went on to say that he was motivated by his sense of a greater purpose. He had the courage to be who he was. Suffice it to say that the majority of us don’t have this courage, we don’t follow our passions, and we certainly don’t live up to our full potential. That’s what made him dangerous.
I recently read Success Built to Last: Creating a Life That Matters,
which looks at the traits of individuals who have been successful over
the long haul. For these people, success means “a life and work that
brings personal fulfillment and lasting relationships and makes a
difference in the world in which they live.” What it comes down to is
Success in the long run has less to do with finding the best idea,
organizational structure, or business model for an enterprise, than
with discovering what matters to us as individuals. It is here, at a
very personal level, where thought and feeling inform each other, that
creativity begins, and where the potential for enduring organizations
Based on the above definition of success, focusing your passion on
material gain doesn’t work for the long term, i.e., it can’t just be
about you getting rich or famous. After all, that certainly wasn’t
what motivated Dr. King.
The key ingredient is that your passion must be channeled in a way that
benefits others. The goal has to be to take your passion and fuel
products and services that help people. Imagine if more people lived
up to this definition of success, one in which service to others wasn’t an afterthought, but an integral part of the journey. We’d be much closer to the type of
world Dr. King dreamed of.
Some final questions for you:
- Have you clarified what your passion is?
- Are your courageously pursuing it?
- How are you using it to help others?