I have spent the vast majority of my life asking others, “What do you think I’m good at? What topic do you think is best for me to speak/write about? What’s my greatest gift?”

In fact, for more than ten years I’ve heard several of my colleagues demand that I stop “Making decision by committee.” Now, in truth, I have gotten better. I no longer need fifteen different opinions on whether an article of clothing looks good on me. Who would have ever thought that how I feel in the clothes might have something to do with whether I should buy it or not? 

I never thought of that question – at least not until I listened to Simon Sinek talk about how so many companies ask their customers what they want the company to create. “That’s like asking your friends, ‘what clothes should I wear so that you’ll like me.’” He’s right; your friends want you to wear the clothes you like.

This whole idea brings me back to the week before my travels to Austria, where I was honored as the first American selected for the Global Peter Drucker Challenge. I asked Scott, my point of contact, “Is there anything I should know about how to behave in Austria?”

Now, considering my very outgoing nature, this question was far from off base! His answer, though, stopped time (andp in this ADD mind, that’s a miracle!) for a moment and caused me to consider why I felt the need to adjust who I am in any context. “Let Misti be Misti,” Scott said.

But, aside from my outgoing personality, who is Misti? After watching Simon perform a true masterpiece on the power of belief, I got curious. Rather than sending out fifty emails, asking anyone who might have an idea, “What does Misti believe in,” I decided the only person who could answer this question is me.

No, there isn’t a single speaker coach, expert, leader, colleague, friend or family member (though God knows they’ve tried) who can tell me what I believe, what topic will sustain my passion, or what problem I love to solve. As it turns out, I’m the only one who can notice the works that lights me up. I’m it!

While a few great companies have created an environment that fosters clarity of purpose and a passion for work, none of them can do the work for us. Beyond personality and strength finder tests lies the question, “What lights me up?”

So, I created some questions to help myself further uncover the ideas/topics that light me up. Perhaps these same questions will be helpful for all the extraordinary people who read my writings (Thank you!), or your friends, colleagues, employees, family, bosses…be careful with this one!

Anytime you feel uncertain about your direction, your passion or your purpose, take some time to consider your answers to these questions:

  • What is it that you can’t seem to stop talking about?
  • What do you love to learn about?
  • What do your friends and family say, “Enough already!” about?
  • When you feel a sense of joy, what are you doing?
As it turns out, I have no shortage of “passion buttons,” though very few stand out. While on a call, just two days ago, with my friend and colleague, Carolyn Martin, I heard myself say, “It’s the very nature of inspiration that inspires me.” Then, I gave her a whole account of why, nearly ten years ago, I got the guts enough to start Inspirion.
The whole idea of watching people tap into the thing that light them up, lights me up. For years, I’ve done this under the context of generational training. When professionals are passionate and focused, with a clear vision, generational diversity becomes a tremendous advantage. It’s when there’s a lack of clarity of role, passion, contribution and vision that generational differences become a problem.
No matter where I am with my business, or my speaking career, I know I can always stop and ask myself, “Why did I get into this work in the first place?” And, in that answer, I find the passion that lights me up.