Find the Intersection Between Passion and Purpose

Author: Jerry Cahn

Find the Intersection Between Passion and Purpose

Purpose Uncategorized

There are two pieces of advice people share to help you forge a fulfilling life, one is to identify your passion and “follow your bliss”- This was a favorite saying of Joseph Campbell.  Another is to understand your purpose in life; Kevin W. McCarthy strongly encourages us to live “On-Purpose”.  Are they the same or are they different, and if so, which is more appropriate? We recommend that you seek the intersection between them when choosing careers.

Morten Hansen, the author of Great at Work, helps us understand the difference.

·   Passion is “doing something that you love doing”; whether you’re an artist, athlete, writer, scientist, builder, coder, etc., it’s the desire to engage in the activities, master them and take them to new heights that feed your passion.

·   Purpose is “doing something meaningful and impactful for the world beyond yourself.” Making the world a better place is a common purpose.

Optimal fulfillment comes from the intersection of these two spheres: engaging in careers in which you can satisfy with passion and purpose.


In the world of health care services, for instance, whether you’re a candy striper helping cheer patients at hospitals or a neurosurgeon saving lives, the passion is for the activity in which you help people and the purpose is reducing or eliminating the pain and improving healthy outcomes.

As passions and purpose morph over time, either of them may someday advance to other careers such as hospital administration health policy development and implementation (e.g., working for the Dept. of Health and Human Services – because these new positions still allow them to meet the intersecting needs. Further, during our 60-80 year adult life, we develop new passions and purposes, and they may enter related careers. For instance, Bill Gates’ initial passion involved the computer-empowerment of people. Today, he’s expanded it through the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation which tried to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. So his passion for solving problems continues with a larger purpose.

Take the time to identify your passions and purposes today. Then think about what they were in the past. Next, envision what they could be in the future.  Finally, put them together to see how you’re navigating a fulfilling life path – and if you’re not- what changes you need to make to do so till you reach 100+!