Four Basic Areas of Need

I think I have a slight addiction to constantly looking at the same problem from different perspectives….

The general approach I have been taking up to this point is basically this:

  • Find out what I am best at
  • Use it to say or do something important
  • Turn that into a career
  • Become incredibly successful!

Easy right?

In my latest iteration of trying to figure out what I should do I decided to abandon the constraint of immense success and get right down to the very basic needs of my life. What is the simplest perspective I could take for determining my requirements for happiness?

In doing so I came up with the follow four basic areas of need and a description of what each entails. They are, in order of importance:

  1. Health of the family unit – Relationship with my wife and children, with our extended families, having sound parenting tactics & strategies, having regular activities, and being a family that eats well
  2. Being a good provider – Have a functioning home where repairs are done promptly, keeping our cars well maintained, doing my job well, and having a balanced budget
  3. Having an outlet for Self-Expression – Having a creative outlet like blogging or video editing, and dressing nicely or in a way that is more reflective of who I am.
  4. Having fun along the way – Going to movies, building a home theater, taking full advantage of living in Ottawa/Manotick, planning more date nights, building and cultivating friendships.

After coming up with this list I wondered ‘If each of these four items were functioning at a high level, how would I feel?’ The answer was that I would be pretty damn happy!

I don’t need this immense success I thought I desired. I don’t need to change the world. I don’t need massive accolades or financial success. I really just want a simple life where these basic needs are met.

I think that when there is a feeling of helplessness in any one of these categories you begin to overcompensate in the others. Having a young family can certainly exacerbate such a feeling.

Having kids definitely was a shock to the system. All the free time I had for simply having fun went ‘Poof’! Much of the extra money we had for unplanned house repairs is now spoken for. And the level of stress in our home went way up with a dramatic decrease in sleep quality, not to mention the constant attention required during daylight hours.

The way I reacted was to hone in on that ‘Self Expression’ aspect and try to make it solve all of my problems. If I could do something that would lead to extreme success, then I could leverage those results to fix everything else, right???

But upon reflection I don’t really want that at all. I am very optimistic about looking specifically at those four aspects and making sure I am always doing something that is helping me improve in each one. It seems so much more achievable, and that in itself is all the motivation I need.


This One Question Could Challenge Everything You Believe

Yesterday I uploaded my latest video to YouTube and in it I ask one question (see below). The purpose of this question is not to be answered but for the viewer to realize that no answer exists. To send your mind for such a loop that it gives up. That in it’s inability to find a concrete answer it finally goes quiet.

It is in this place of stillness that peace is found. It is the indescribable beauty of the present moment. Here is a blog post of mine on a series of other beautiful quotes that can also take you there.

The most enlightened spiritual gurus on the planet spend most of their lives in this place but for the rest of us we can’t expect more than a glimpse every now and then. But it is such a rich place to be that even just a few moments can teach us so much about how to live our lives.

This is where it fits in to The Passionate Why. There is no quicker way to finding out who you really are, and what you should be doing, than quieting the mind.

Please check out my video and let me know if it has an impact on you. I will be back tomorrow with my Wednesday blog post!

Your Performance is not the Problem


It was late summer back in 1998 and I was finishing off the final work term of my Industrial Engineering degree at Dal. And as everyone is aware, with every single job that you will ever have there is some kind of performance review process to go through.

Judgement day was here and it was time for mine.

Ahead of this meeting I was given a multiple choice questionnaire to fill out that basically described how I thought I did. I filled it out and brought it to the review meeting with my boss. We went through it question by question and he gave his selections for my performance level. Most of his answers were lower than mine, none were higher.

In the discussion following the questionnaire my boss went on to say “When I think of the people that I can count on in this department, your name doesn’t come to mind.” Further he said something to the effect “You don’t really fit in to this environment, and maybe a Government job would be more up your alley.”

Now, I am not going to say I did a great job during that work term, or that I was terribly engaged with the work I was doing. Because I didn’t, and I wasn’t. But there was a serious lack of depth to his analysis of what was going on, and the commentary of what my life direction should be was completely out of line. As well, having just found out I was going to have to write a supplementary exam for one of my courses, he caught me at a particularly vulnerable time.

I had two other work terms for which I had good reviews, but it’s funny how it is always the shitty stuff that sticks with us. That single meeting had an impact on many life choices I made over the next several years. A huge part of my issue with performance reviews is exactly what I described above. The amplified impact of negative feedback.

When you spend the majority of your waking hours at your workplace a poor annual review can haunt you for months. Your self worth takes a hit, your bank account, your mood, it can trigger anxiety and depression. All for what? It seems that many of the side effects of negative feedback can sabotage your ability to improve future performance.

An often overlooked fact is that a person’s performance doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What you are doing and why you are doing it are VITAL components to how well you do it. Are you accessing your Natural Skillset? Do you have a clear purpose?

This is why finding your passion is so important. When you are chasing your passion, performance management almost becomes irrelevant. Where you need to improve a skill you find a way to teach yourself how to do it. When your tools aren’t good enough, you save up and invest in new ones. When you have no time, you simply get up earlier, stay up later, or stop binging on Game of Thrones. When people criticize you, you tell them to go f**k themselves and you keep moving forward. You are on a mission and nothing else matters.

True performance management is a one person activity.

Yes, there are probably dozens of people that can help you do what you do more effectively. But your actual performance, the level at which you work with what you have in the immediate now, can not be improved by someone else.

But everyone wants feedback. Most of the time I believe people just want to make sure they don’t have the terribly awkward and painful conversation at the end of the year.

What I’ve discovered since launching ‘The Passionate Why‘ is the incredible value of real time feedback.

  • Facebook provides instant info for every post telling me how many people have seen it and how it compares to every other one. It tells me when my viewers are most likely online and even breaks it down by gender.
  • On Twitter a sudden jump (or dip) in followers or re-tweets lets me know immediately when I have done something with an impact.
  • On WordPress I know how many people have read my post, which country they live in, and the search terms that were used. I know the best day to post, and the best time of day.
  • And on YouTube I can track the amount of money that is generated from each video. Very minuscule at this point, but the impact is still powerful and even addictive.

I will take this live, ongoing, unbiased, impersonal, continuous feedback any day over an uncomfortable annual performance review.

Image courtesy of:LeoWolfert/


Do You Want To Be The Greatest Of All Time? #GOAT

This is another quick post to inform all of my readers that I have uploaded a new video on YouTube. It is a new ‘Passion Hack’ about wanting to be the best in the world at something.

In the video I suggest that the viewer make a list of the first 16 things that come to mind if they can’t decide exactly the means through which they would express their world domination 🙂

Sooooo, I thought it would be fun if I shared MY list. I am sure it would have been a little different had I done this a year ago but I do feel more self aware now than I was then so this is as accurate as it gets for me. See below:


If you are having trouble with your own list of 16 maybe that will give you some ideas. Also, here is the link to this morning’s video. Enjoy and Subscribe/Follow if you want to see more!

Finding Your Passion, THEN Doing VS Finding Your Passion BY Doing

I would have to say that I have tried both roads.

First of, I have spent much of the last 7 years trying to figure out exactly who I was. To say it began as an intense spiritual journey may be understating it a little. My first introduction to spirituality happened when I pulled ‘The Power of Now’ off of my wife’s bookshelf in 2009.

I then proceeded to read it and reread it about 5 times. It was like a bible to me. It seemed that whatever I was going through I could simply turn to a random page and after a few short minutes of reading it would relax me.

I then discovered other spiritual teachers like Mooji, Alan Watts, Marianne Williamson, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Wayne Dyer, and so on. At first I was drawn to them for healing, but then it turned to a more contemplative tone. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose?

As I had mentioned in a recent post I spent several years contemplating these ideas everyday during my lunch break at a nearby park bench. I wanted to know exactly who I was because I felt I couldn’t live my life authentically until I did.

I essentially put everything on hold. Nothing was more important than figuring it all out. Once I did, and only then, would I be able to live the life of my dreams.

Eventually I came to a point where my dissatisfaction with life needed a more immediate solution. The very nature of spirituality doesn’t allow for actionable answers. And I soon began to understand the arrogance in thinking there is concrete path to spiritual enlightenment. Even to think that I understood what enlightenment was, was foolhardy.

Gradually I began to take a new approach, and this is when I discovered Simon Sinek. He opened my eyes to a whole new take on discovering your purpose. His TED talk inspired me at work, and his ‘Why University‘ course online offered up a new path to discover who I was. From there I discovered a few others like Jim Collins, Daniel Pink, and Marcus Buckingham.

But soon I realized that this was just more of the same. When was I actually going to start DOING SOMETHING??

I have this saying I wrote down a few years ago that makes a lot sense to me but I never followed my own advice. it goes like this:

“It’s hard to go with the flow when you’re standing on the dock.”

I have been standing on the dock this whole time, staring at the water, waiting for the perfect time to jump in the river. I have been over thinking, and over strategizing, and overlooking the most important part of finding out who you are. And that is to fully and completely participate in life!

Life has this incredible feedback loop of informing you about what you are doing. When you are trying new things with an open mind you learn exponentially faster about where your alignment is. About where exactly your place in the world is. When you jump in the river and start kicking and flailing about you learn very quickly what works and what doesn’t. When you are standing on the dock it is all theory.

That is what this whole experience is about for me. ‘The Passionate Why‘ is about me jumping in, applying the experience and knowledge I have gained along the way, and adjusting my course as I go. Even now I am constantly adjusting what I think this social media endeavor should be. Here is a brief summary of my path of doing so far:

  • My first idea was to blog about home budgeting and build a tool that can help my readers. BORING, so I dropped it.
  • Next, from what I had learned about purpose I wanted to make a video blog where I talk about how corporations can find their purpose with my own unique approach. It’s been done by people with much more experience than me.
  • The next iteration of that idea was to discuss, review and compare purpose driven organizations to inform customers so they could spend their money on organizations that best reflected their values. This turned out to be very intensive for the time I had available.
  • I then took a deeper look at what I truly wanted and I created the process for discovering your natural skillset. This confirmed my desire for a YouTube channel, but what should it be about?
  • My first approach was that the channel would be a combination of documenting my journey towards finding my passion and providing tools and tricks to help my viewers.
  • I soon realized that my specialty would be shorter videos on little tips and have very recently started to focus on these so called hacks.
  • My latest adjustment is that while I have a few of these hacks, I may not have enough content to keep me producing past 6 months. If I really want to help people perhaps the best approach is to create a community where everyone who is on the same journey as myself can contribute or benefit from it. Thus I have just created this Google+ community.
  • I am still contemplating whether a similar community would be a good fit on LinkedIn.

As you can see it is a very iterative process. I don’t know where this will take me next. Maybe the Google+ community will crash and burn. But then that will just pave the way for my next move.

It certainly is a scary process as my mistakes and missteps are there for everyone to see. But I am more sure than ever that this process will lead me to where I really want to be. And it is definitely better than still being that guy standing on the dock planning the perfect way to dive in.

The Brilliance of Simon Sinek

In early 2015 while binge-watching TED talks I came across Simon Sinek who had one of THE most watched talks of all time. It was called ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’.

With over 28 million views I was a little surprised that for the first 5 minutes of the video the audio was pretty terrible. However it is the power of the message that resonated so well with the viewers.

He basically said that the world’s greatest corporations, or movements, or inventions, occurred because the individuals driving them were focused on their ‘Why’. They weren’t about becoming rich or famous. They were serving a particular cause.

Most companies today are profit driven, and try to dabble in the visceral side of the business as sort of an after thought. You can see it everywhere on YouTube where companies put out these emotionally captivating videos in an attempt to connect emotionally to their customers.

In order for that approach to work it must be obvious to the customer that your viral video is perfectly aligned with the purpose of your company. My two favorite examples of this are Dove and Always. See their videos below.

When you combine an emotionally touching viral video with an articulated corporate purpose, you get yourself a movement.

This new way of thinking about business gave me tremendous hope. I used to see the corporate world as this big bad entity who are going to simply use up all the resources around them in an effort to make more and more money. However, the success of Starting With Why, as Simon puts it, made me realize the real change is possible.

But as brilliant as Simon was in the discussion around corporate purpose, I didn’t find it translated as well into individual purpose.

A corporation was created by people as a thought or an idea that filled a need. It exists to make lives better. If it doesn’t make peoples lives better than why does it exist.

A person was created through billions of years of evolution. Do I really need to come up with some kind of well articulated purpose to justify my existence? I am here and that is enough.

But then you have things like depression, illness, hunger, and all other forms of suffering that make us clamor for some kind of deeper meaning.

“Life has to be given a meaning because of the obvious fact that it has no meaning.” – Henry Miller

I really prefer the word alignment, rather than the words ‘meaning’ or ‘fulfillment’. When you look for meaning, or look for fulfillment, you are looking outside of the present moment. When you are not in the now, you are in your mind, which can be a very unreliable place to be!

Alignment is when you can get blissfully lost in whatever it is you may be doing in that exact moment. For me it is when I am editing videos with wonderful content at my finger tips. I often say alignment is at the cross section of your natural skillset with the story of your life experience.

In a future blog post I am going to walk through exactly how I determined my natural skill set. Then I will talk about combining that with your life experience and making your specific world a better place.  This is the approach that finally got me heading down this wonderful road.

Below I have provided a link to Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why. If ‘The Passionate Why’ should ever turn into a money making project I will definitely reference it for invaluable guidance.

My Morning Drive

Hi Everyone!

Today I published my first video in what I hope will be an extensive and useful series. I have utilized pretty much the only free time I have and set up a camera in my car so I can churn out video content for The Passionate Why on my drive to work.

I must admit it was an odd feeling at first talking to myself in the car. It took a while to get started, and then it took a while to get on a roll. I captured over 18 minutes of footage but only the last 5 minutes was usable. I will aim to improve that ratio in the future…

In the video I talk about how to find your passion, and in a somewhat unstructured way, I highlight the three major aspects. They are:

  1. Defining your world. Those people, things, and places that you are most connected with.
  2. Highlighting your skills that we’re self taught and the core reasons you learned them.
  3. Leveraging your life experience.

The combination of these three attributes is what can lead you to finding a passion. It is applying those self taught skills to the content of your life experience in a way that enables you to make your world a better place.

In future videos I will dive more deeply into each of these three aspects but I think this particular one does a good job of setting the stage for those future discussions.

Have a great day!

Launch Day!

Hi Everyone!

This is just a quick post to announce that I have officially launched my social media endeavor. I am incredibly excited about finally getting underway and can’t wait to see where all of this leads me. Below is the trailer I created for my YouTube channel to give people a good idea of what they can expect from my social media platforms. Also on the YouTube channel you will find links to my Facebook page, Twitter handle, and Instagram account. Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you back again!

Welcome to The Passionate Why!

Hi everyone! Or nobody lol.

This will be just a quick post to introduce you to what I am trying to accomplish with this social media adventure I call The Passionate Why, or TPW from here on out for efficiency’s sake.

I have spent the better part of the last 7 years looking for purpose in all it’s shapes and sizes. From wondering the grandiose like ‘What is the meaning of life?’, to ‘Who am I?’, and ‘What is the purpose of MY life?’.

This has led me down two main paths in my life: Spirituality and Finding Fulfillment through Work.

These two concepts often seem to be in conflict with each other as one can often lead you to slowing down and not doing, while the other is about finding the thing you are passionate about doing.

My goal here is to reconcile the two. To tell people how I combine the concepts from both to guide me in my own life, and maybe help you in yours.

You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube under the same name. And while there is not a lot of content up yet I hope to be posting more soon.

Thanks for reading!