Have you ever felt like you really don’t know what it is about you that makes you tick and why? In this 3rd part of the Identity series we dive and take a hard look at what true identity really is, where it comes from, and how to sustain it. 


Take flight with your passion as we dive into today’s boot camp article. 

The greatest leaders can’t help but magnetically draw people in around them, altering the course and flow of all the lives they come into contact with, and most do it without ever realizing it. It just happens.

People are drawn to passion because genuine passion is so rare (since people are too preoccupied with purpose).

That’s the power of identity. Identity is consistent. Constancy is safe. Safety establishes trust. Trust leads to belief and belief leads to commitment. Commitment leads to action, and action leads to production. And all of this creates results, based on one person’s, or one company’s, identity.

Steve Jobs never would have said his purpose in life was to create the iPod, the Apple brand, or to save Pixar from bankruptcy. He would have said those things were part of his passion. That passion is what propelled him and his companies to the top, not purpose. His passion stemmed from his identity, the things he knew about himself that no one else did.

True identity is what only WE know about ourselves that no one else can, and our purpose is to be true to that.

The reason why we seek purpose is because we have been tricked into accepting a false social premise that shames us into believing that our passion is somehow unacceptable and unrealistic.

We seek purpose because of shame! We seek purpose so we can find a socially acceptable way of “fitting in.” In other words, “purpose” has been diluted to become a type of mediocrity, or predictability.

There’s nothing profound about a purpose that is shared with millions of other people. That’s not profound. That’s common. It’s a different type of safety called security.

This shows another thing, purpose is for groups, not individuals. It’s a way of labeling, identifying, and classifying people. You might be African-American, Caucasian, or Asian. Your purpose is to be placed in that group and to self-identify with other people like you.

Let’s take a quick look at one of the biggest contributors to groupthink, purpose-driven, self-improvement thought leadership, Rick Warren’s, “The Purpose Driven Life” concept.

A friend of mine shared this article written by Warren. The topic is, “Life is About Relationships, Not Accomplishments.” Midway through the article, Warren states,

“One day, you’re going to die, and you’re going to stand before God. When he evaluates your life, he’s not going to look at your bank account or your list of accomplishments or your grades. He won’t care about all your sports trophies. He’s not going to look at your endorsements or your resume. God is going to evaluate your life on one basis: … ‘How much did you love [God] and other people?'”

Hmmm. What do you suppose Rick Warren’s purpose is…?

I’m not here to debate scripture. I’m here to debate premise.

Rick Warren’s purpose is to lead and influence a group of millions of people, guiding them in how he believes they are meant to live their lives according to their mutually shared religion. In the previous post I said that when you make your life about the pursuit of purpose, it ceases to be you who lives and other people’s purpose that lives through you. This is what that looks like.

Without realizing it (because I sincerely believe he is completely unaware of what he’s doing, for the most part) Warren just said your identity is not important, your passion is not important, and that your life, effectively, does not matter to God. He essentially said the purpose of your life is to sit on your couch, love God, and love other people. Why bother doing or being anything else if it doesn’t matter?

You know how many Christians I’ve counseled who feel l like they are bad people because that’s not the only life they want to live? They feel like they are evil people because they strongly desire to do great things with their life, but their desire, it seems to them, is at moral odds with what they have been told they need to do.

They feel like if they did what was in their heart to do, it would be selfish, and that selfishness would betray the image of what other men have put in their mind that defines what it means to be a “good Christian.”

They believe they have to choose between themselves and God. What a horrible place to be.

They believe they need to choose between satisfying God, and living a satisfying life, unless that satisfying life comes in the form of settling, rather than aspiring.

There are business men who fail at business because people like Rick Warren told them their purpose was to love God, not be who they are, and they think that making lots of money is evil. There are women who think they need to divorce their husbands because they think they don’t measure up to what Rick Warren’s image of a good Christian wife seems to be. They come to believe the man they love would be better off with someone else, meaning, an un-aspirational, “meek and loving,” “Christian” wife.

Those are the extremes. What’s normal is that there are millions and millions of Christians who live their lives in hopeless mediocrity, but thanks to Rick Warren, they suddenly feel like they are doing something right.

On the other hand, I know a woman, a very successful business woman, who created a foundation that she funds with the profits from her businesses. We’re talking millions of dollars. This foundation, among other things, builds homes for the extreme poor in 3rd world countries, frees women from sex slavery, and feeds widows and orphans.

If she had listened to Rick Warren, would she have given her businesses away, and sat on the couch because there was no significance to her life, and God doesn’t care about all that? All she needed to do was “love.” That’s a very vague, unspecific concept to me.

What I find really interesting about all this is that it is purpose at the expense of significance. Warren demonstrates what I find so often from gurus, which is: leadership divorced from wisdom.

You weren’t made for mediocrity, and, thankfully, purpose is not what distinguishes you. Passion is. What is passion for if not significance? Your passion, living through you, was meant to change your part of the world, your part of the industry where your business operates.

And don’t misunderstand me and think that by significance I mean that you need to be a celebrity or something like that. Significance is completely up to you. I can’t tell you. Only you know what is significant to you and that’s my point.

In the case of the business woman I mentioned above, her passion was to take care of the poor, but her skillset was making money. Her passion and her skill seemed to be at complete odds. Now most people who are passionate about the poor, give away everything they have, join a non-profit and live financially broke lives, while shaming their donors, of being financially successful, into giving them money so that they can take care of the poor.

What’s more, this woman knew a lot of other business people, who are also highly skilled at making money, and she recruited them to give to her foundation to multiply its impact. Tell me, where does that fit in to Rick Warren’s world? He doesn’t speak to you doing that. Instead, he feeds your fear of your own significance. Isn’t that interesting?

In Warren’s purpose-driven life, both are removed from you, significance and passion. Your purpose is to be a loving couch potato and any desire for significance is…sinful at worst and a waste of time at best.

BUT Passion is the real fuel that powers the world. Passion is the reason why you can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning. If you are married, think about the morning of the first date you had planned with the person who would become your spouse. Now compare that morning to the morning you got married. Your passion for the person you were about to marry, probably kept you up all night.

Me, I love looking for ways to help struggling business owners believe in their dreams again. That’s why I get out of bed and write this stuff, because I used to be where you are.

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