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The Journey to Fulfillment: The Power of Passion, Perseverance and Intentionality


Take a moment to reflect: “Is my life truly fulfilling? Am I living it with intentionality to the fullest?” Honestly, many of us might find that the answer is ‘no.’ It’s common to find ourselves navigating through life on ‘auto-pilot,’ merely going through our daily routines without a conscious, intentional effort to infuse them with meaning. Our identities often become tied to external markers: the cars we drive, the size of our homes, our financial status, and the circles we move in. But isn’t life meant to be more than a collection of superficial measures?

I, too, found myself in this very state, merely coasting through life but not actively engaging in it. This all changed dramatically after a pivotal moment – a life-altering encounter where I faced an intruder at gunpoint. This harrowing experience was a profound wake-up call. It starkly highlighted that life isn’t about passively riding the waves of circumstance; it’s about actively setting your sail and navigating through the currents, even if it means swimming against the tide.

This incident brought to light a critical truth that is often missed: we are capable of so much more than merely drifting through our days. Real fulfillment doesn’t happen by accident; it is intentionally sculpted. It’s about deliberately making choices that are meaningful and impactful rather than allowing precious time to slip away.

From this realization, my perspective completely shifted. Life is not a series of passive experiences but a canvas for active creation. Embracing this mindset is key to transforming everyday existence into a journey of intention, purpose, and fulfillment. We all have unique purposes that only we were put on this earth to fulfill, and it is up to us to make meaningful contributions to society using our innate talents and capabilities.

Our lives are meant to be more than just a pursuit of material wealth or fleeting possessions. Through my own journey, I’ve unearthed the deep connection between passion and perseverance, what’s often termed ‘grit,’ and the crucial role of intentionality in weaving these together to form a life of true fulfillment.

In this article, I delve deeper into how these elements interact and reinforce each other. Drawing insights from my upcoming book, ‘Passion Struck: Twelve Powerful Principles to Unlock Your Purpose and Ignite Your Most Intentional Life,’ I explore how the amalgamation of passion, perseverance, and intentionality can illuminate the path to a life that resonates with our deepest values and aspirations.

Join me as I share my transition from an unintentional life to embracing a life enriched with passion, underpinned by perseverance, and guided by intentionality. It’s a journey that redefines what it means to live fully – not just existing but thriving with purpose and fulfillment.

From Societal Success to Personal Fulfillment: My Journey of Rediscovery

Let me share a more personal chapter of my journey. There was a time when my life was the epitome of societal success. I had ascended to the pinnacle of my career, holding positions like the CEO of a technology company, a member of the coveted Fortune 50 C-Suite, a practice leader in a Big Four consulting firm, and a Naval officer. My achievements were adorned with numerous accolades, marking a path many would envy.

Yet, beneath this veneer of success, there was an underlying emptiness. I was operating on autopilot, achieving milestones that seemed impressive externally but lacked personal fulfillment.

In retrospect, what I considered a dynamic career was actually a series of roles that left me feeling uninspired and misaligned with my true purpose. I was wearing a mask, not confronting the stagnation that was preventing me from reaching my true potential. Despite financial security and material comforts, a profound sense of un-mattering, emotional emptiness, and disconnection persisted.

The root of my discontent was a misalignment of my actions with my intrinsic values and goals. I had placed too much emphasis on societal benchmarks of success – wealth, status, recognition – that I neglected the most critical aspects of life, such as meaningful relationships, personal passions, health, and creating a lasting legacy. In essence, I was living a life designed by external expectations rather than one guided by my inner compass. For years,  I was so immersed in what I believed I ought to do that I ceased to listen to my heart — a plight many can relate to.

The moment of realization was a turning point in my life. Upon recognizing the hollowness of my achievements, it dawned on me that while I had been driven by the passion for success and achievements and had persevered through numerous challenges, I had not been living intentionally in harmony with my true purpose and values.

This awareness propelled me to redirect my efforts toward personal growth and self-discovery. Gradually, this path revealed a deeper, more meaningful calling: to heal and uplift others to realize their fullest potential and to lead lives rich in purpose and fulfillment. Driven by this newfound mission, I became committed to helping others overcome the limitations and challenges I had once faced myself.

My journey since has been about fostering a framework for others to achieve success, joy, and fulfillment that align with their true selves. Through my upcoming book, podcast, speaking, YouTube channel, and the Passion Struck® brand, I am committed to helping growth seekers unlock and nurture their potential, discover their purpose, and live intentionally.

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In sharing my journey, I aim to illuminate the profound impact of aligning one’s life not just with passion and perseverance but combined with intentionality. This alignment with our core values and purpose is the key to transforming from a life of mere achievements to one of true fulfillment and meaning. It’s a journey from success as defined by the world to success defined by your soul.

Unraveling the Essence of Grit: Passion and Perseverance

It’s crucial to understand a concept that forms the bedrock of my journey: grit. Angela Duckworth, in her exploration of grit, defines it as more than mere talent. She describes it as “our ability to persevere, overcome, and keep going no matter how tough things get.” This resilience transcends simple endurance; it embodies a profound commitment to long-term goals, fueled by genuine passion.

Grit gives us the strength to stay true to our visions, despite the challenges we inevitably face. On our paths, we encounter significant obstacles – typically around 5-7 major ones. But it’s through the consistent exercise of resilience, dedication, and persistence that distant dreams are transformed into tangible realities.

Groundbreaking Insights from West Point

In a landmark study at West Point, the United States military academy, researchers embarked on an exploration of how grit plays a crucial role in achieving goals. The study, involving over 11,000 cadets across four challenging years, also assessed other non-cognitive factors like physical ability, leading to surprising insights about success.

Key Attributes Analyzed:

  1. Cognitive Ability: Defined as the capability for reasoning, problem-solving, abstract thinking, quick learning, and learning from experience.
  2. Physical Ability: Measured in terms of speed, strength, and overall physical capability.
  3. Grit: A combination of passion and perseverance towards long-term, personally significant goals.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019, showed an unexpected negative correlation between cognitive ability and physical ability and grit. Cadets with higher cognitive abilities tended to exhibit lower levels of physical capability and grit. While cognitive ability was a strong predictor of academic and military grades, it was physical ability and grit that determined whether cadets successfully completed Cadet Basic Training and graduated from West Point.

Michael Matthews, Ph.D., contributing author of the study and a professor at West Point, emphasized the need for a combination of cognitive and non-cognitive skills to achieve success. He highlighted the significance of incorporating attributes like passion and perseverance into our understanding of success.

Integrating Intentionality with Grit: The Key to Self-Realization

My time at the Naval Academy profoundly shaped my understanding of success, emphasizing the critical role of grit. Indeed, grit was a cornerstone in my journey toward success and eventual graduation. However, my experiences taught me that grit, while invaluable, was not the sole ingredient for true achievement. A vital component was missing: Intentionality.

Beyond Grit: The Role of Intentionality

While Duckworth and Matthews, in their studies, rightly identify grit as a core attribute in achieving success, it’s important to recognize that intentionality is equally, if not more, vital. Intentionality involves understanding the significance of our life goals and directing our behaviors and actions toward achieving them. It also means recognizing what we are not aiming for, thus providing clarity around our aspirations and guiding where we should invest our focus and time. This clarity is what differentiates achieving mere success from attaining self-realization.

At the Naval Academy, just like at West Point, success was not merely a product of cognitive and non-cognitive skills, including grit. It involved setting goals with a clear purpose, understanding the significance behind each challenge, and aligning my actions with my deeper values and objectives. This harmonious blend of grit and intentionality was crucial, transforming my journey from mere survival in a rigorous environment to thriving with a sense of purpose and direction.

My experiences thus reveal a broader truth: while the West Point study underscores the pivotal role of grit in success, it becomes evident that grit’s true potential is only unlocked when coupled with intentionality. It’s the synergy of enduring passion, relentless perseverance, and a deliberate, purpose-driven approach that paves the way for a truly fulfilling and successful life.

Insights from Katy Milkman 

In a Passion Struck podcast interview with Katy Milkman, co-founder of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative with Duckworth, I discussed the importance of intentionality. I stated, “I can have all the grit in the world. However, I will not reach my end goal if I don’t know how to drive it intentionally.” Milkman concurred, noting that Duckworth herself would not view grit as the sole ingredient for success. She pointed out that situation modification, which essentially equates to intentionality, is a crucial component. It involves recognizing that if our current situation does not support our goals, changes are necessary.

This conversation and my observations led me to define a theory on why some achieve self-realization while others do not. This theory builds upon Duckworth’s work and integrates the crucial element of intentionality. It posits that self-realization depends on the combination of passion, perseverance, and intentionality, especially in identical situations.

Applying the Second Law of Thermodynamics to Goal Achievement

Drawing parallels with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy is wasted in transformation and systems move towards entropy without energy input, this theory applies similarly to goal achievement. If you have a goal, you must actively invest energy into making choices aligned with that goal to avoid inertia. This is the essence of intentionality: directing our mindset, beliefs, and actions in harmony with our character, goals, and core values.

By understanding and harnessing the power of both grit and intentionality, we can create a more effective framework for achieving not just success but a state of self-realization, where our actions and outcomes are in perfect alignment with our deepest aspirations. This realization about the interplay between grit and intentionality serves as a prelude to exploring deeper concepts of self-awareness and determination. 

As we venture into the thoughts and teachings of Carl Jung, Stephen Covey, Edward Deci, and Richard Ryan in the next section, we’ll see how these ideas intricately weave together, offering a comprehensive framework for living a life that’s not only fulfilling but intentionally aligned with our deepest aspirations and values.

The Integral Role of Self-Awareness in a Life of Intention

As we progress from a life navigated on autopilot to one steeped in intentionality, passion, and perseverance, the pivotal role of self-awareness becomes increasingly evident. Carl Jung, the distinguished Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, aptly noted, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.” This insight highlights the critical importance of uncovering the subconscious elements that drive our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, which often remain hidden beneath the surface of our everyday awareness.

This concept of self-awareness dovetails with the principles of self-determination theory, developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. Their work delves into the human need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, emphasizing that fulfilling these needs is essential for psychological health and well-being. Just like Stephen Covey’s perspective on self-determination, which states, “People who exercise their embryonic freedom (self-determination), day after day, little by little, expand that freedom,” Deci and Ryan’s theory highlights the transformative power of consciously choosing and directing our own lives, driven by intrinsic motivation and a sense of personal control.

Figure that describes the three components of self-determination theory by Richard Ryan and Edward DeciMy journey mirrors these theories. Despite achieving conventional success, I realized that I was merely conforming to societal expectations, not living a life true to myself. This awakening was a turning point, leading me to embrace a life of intentionality. It became apparent that to truly forge our path, I must not only recognize but also actively shape my subconscious motivations.

As I delved deeper, it became evident that intentionality, passion, and perseverance are not isolated forces but deeply interconnected. They collectively empower us to break free from a life on autopilot, enabling us to consciously navigate our journey toward more meaningful and fulfilling destinations.In the next sections, I will explore how these elements—fortified by the principles of self-determination theory—create a dynamic synergy. This exploration, grounded in theory, science, and the practical experiences of my transformation, offers a roadmap to revolutionizing our approach to living, leading us to lives that resonate with our deepest values and aspirations.


Synergy of Passion, Perseverance, and Intentionality: Keys to Success

The interrelationship of passion, perseverance, and intentionality is a dynamic and intricate topic that reveals how these elements work together to foster personal and professional success. Each component plays a unique role, and their synergy can lead to remarkable achievements.

Passion: The Driving Force

Passion often serves as the genesis of any pursuit. It’s the intense emotion or enthusiasm one feels towards a particular activity or goal. This powerful force provides the motivation and energy to pursue what one loves or believes in.

Key Aspects:

  • Intrinsic Motivation: Passion is fueled by internal desires, not external rewards.
  • Joy and Fulfillment: Engaging in activities one is passionate about brings joy and a sense of fulfillment.
  • Creativity and Innovation: Passion drives creativity, encouraging individuals to think outside the box and innovate.

Perseverance: The Sustaining Power

Perseverance is the steadfastness in doing something despite the difficulty or delay in achieving success. It’s about staying the course even when faced with challenges or setbacks.

Key Aspects:

  • Resilience: The ability to bounce back from failures and continue moving forward.
  • Consistency: Regular effort over time, even in small amounts, leads to significant progress.
  • Long-term Vision: Keeping the end goal in sight, even when the path is difficult.

Intentionality: Steering the Course

Intentionality is about consciously setting goals and making decisions that align with one’s values and aspirations. It is the deliberate action in steering one’s life in a chosen direction.

Key Aspects:

  • Goal Setting: Clearly defining what one wants to achieve.
  • Mindful Decision-Making: Making choices that align with one’s goals and values.
  • Focus and Clarity: Maintaining focus on the objectives and understanding the reasons behind them.

Interrelationship: Creating a Synergistic Effect

When passion, perseverance, and intentionality are combined, they create a powerful synergy that can greatly enhance personal and professional growth.

  1. Passion Fuels Perseverance: The love for what one does makes it easier to persist through challenges.
  2. Perseverance Strengthens Passion: Continued effort can deepen one’s passion as one overcomes obstacles and sees progress.
  3. Intentionality Directs Passion and Perseverance: Knowing why you’re doing something directs your passion and perseverance, making your efforts more focused and effective.
  4. Feedback Loop: Success and learning from each step further fuel passion, encouraging more perseverance and more intentional actions.

The combination of passion, perseverance, and intentionality is a potent formula for success. Passion ignites the spark, perseverance keeps the flame burning, and intentionality ensures the fire is directed toward meaningful and achievable goals. Understanding and cultivating each element can lead to a fulfilling journey toward personal and professional fulfillment.

Implementing Passion, Perseverance, and Intentionality: A Personal Blueprint

After exploring how passion, perseverance, and intentionality synergize to unlock success, it is pivotal to discuss how these elements can be practically implemented in one’s life. The integration of these components has been a transformative part of my journey, shaping both my personal and professional paths.

Passion in Action

For me, passion is not just a fleeting emotion but a guiding beacon. It manifests in my daily activities, whether it’s in the projects I undertake or the hobbies I pursue. Here’s how I channel my passion:

  • Pursuit of Interests: I dedicate time to activities that ignite my enthusiasm, whether it’s writing, podcasting, or engaging in creative endeavors. This commitment ensures that my days are filled with tasks that I love, driving my motivation and productivity.
  • Continuous Learning: I consistently seek new knowledge and experiences in areas that fascinate me. This quest for learning keeps my passion alive and thriving.

Perseverance as a Practice

Perseverance is my steadfast ally, especially when facing challenges. It’s about maintaining focus and resilience in the pursuit of my goals. Here’s how I embody perseverance:

  • Overcoming Setbacks: When faced with failures or obstacles, I focus on learning from these experiences rather than being discouraged by them. This mindset helps me to bounce back stronger.
  • Consistent Effort: I make sure to consistently work towards my goals, even through small, daily actions. This consistency is key to making steady progress.

Intentionality in Decision-Making

Intentionality is the compass that guides my decisions and actions. It ensures that my efforts are aligned with my core values and long-term objectives. Here’s how I practice intentionality:

  • Goal Setting: I regularly set and review my goals to ensure they align with my personal values and professional aspirations. This clarity guides my actions and decisions.
  • Mindful Choices: Each decision I make is weighed against my goals and values. This deliberate approach ensures that my actions are purpose-driven and aligned with my desired direction. If you want to learn how you can pursue this deeper, one of the giveaways that I am providing if you preorder my book is the Deliberate Action Process e-book, with over 50 pages of detailed instructions and worksheets that you can use to develop a deliberate mindset yourself. 

Synergistic Application

In applying these principles, I have found that:

  • My Passion Fuels Perseverance: The love for what I do makes it easier to face challenges. My passion provides the energy needed to persist in the face of adversity.
  • Perseverance Deepens My Passion: As I overcome hurdles and see the progress made, my passion grows even stronger.
  • Intentionality Guides Both: By understanding why I am pursuing certain goals, I can direct my passion and perseverance more effectively, ensuring that my efforts are not only persistent but also purposeful and strategic.

The integration of passion, perseverance, and intentionality has been instrumental in my journey toward a fulfilling life. This approach has not only lit the initial spark but has also kept the flame of achievement burning brightly, guided in the right direction. By cultivating each of these elements, I have carved a path filled with both personal satisfaction and professional success. This blueprint is a testament to the transformative power of combining these dynamic forces in one’s life.

Choosing Intentionality: The Path to a Passion-Struck Life

As you ponder your life’s direction, it becomes imperative to understand how societal expectations and external validations may have clouded your true ambitions. Stepping away from an ‘auto-pilot’ existence starts with a mindset geared towards introspection and deliberate living. Identify what excites you, fuels your curiosity, and aligns with your true passions. Remember, life is your canvas, and you hold the brush to paint it with colors that reflect your unique essence.

By choosing a path driven by purpose, as opposed to living in ‘auto-pilot,’ you’ll find a deeper sense of joy and fulfillment. Remember that each day presents an opportunity to infuse your life with meaning. Embrace the principles of passion to fuel your endeavors, leverage perseverance to overcome obstacles, and apply intentionality to ensure your actions are aligned with your core values and deepest desires. By doing so, you transform your life into a masterpiece of your own design, rich with personal satisfaction and professional success.

This journey is not without its challenges, but as you navigate through them, you’ll find that the journey itself enriches your experience, bringing a sense of achievement and joy that only comes from living a life true to yourself.

In closing, let this journey serve as a catalyst for you to embark on your path to a passion-struck life. A life where every decision, every action, and every moment is a reflection of your deepest values and aspirations. Embark on this path with an open heart and unwavering determination, and watch as your life unfolds into a fulfilling and meaningful legacy.

If you want to continue to build on how you instill mattering into your life, please refer to my upcoming book, Passion Struck: 12 Powerful Principles to Unlock Your Purpose and Unleash Your Most Intentional Life, which is now available for pre-order.

I also wrote about Shameflammation, which is essential for helping you learn how to identify and conquer your inner demons.

Thank you for taking the time to engage with my perspectives. May your journey be filled with joy, growth, and fulfillment.

As a new reader, please check my personal growth and well-being stories reflecting my reviews, observations, and decades of research and interviews.

The Power of Choice, Overcoming Traumatic Brain Injury, Reverse Aging, Significance, Optimal Anxiety, Person of Courage, The Power of Hope, Being Stuck, Curiosity, Awe, 5 AM Club, Strong Moral Compass, Psychological Immune System, Playing The Long Game, Drama Addiction, Trust Building Exercises, Taking The Road Less Traveled, Why Passion is the New Currency, Unreseasonable Hospitality, Five Senses, Digital Addiction, When to Quit, Effortless Perfection, Mental Immunity, Sensory Experiences, The Value of Struggle, Overcome Challenges, Victim Mentality, Anger Management, Gratitude, Vulnerability, Free Will, and the Power of Asking.

You might find more information about my professional background. You can listen to the #1 Alternative Health Podcast, Passion Struck, with John R. Miles. You may join Medium with my referral link to enjoy unlimited content.



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