This is what true enlightenment feels like, when it makes itself obvious in your life. People ask me sometimes (and a friend from Paris asked me just today), "how do you know when you are suppose to be 'doing something,' or how do you know when it is the 'right' person?" The only honest answer is I have not a clue, but "having a clue" also has little to nothing to do with finding the answer to these important life questions. In other words, this is not a left brain (analytical) issue, it is a right brain issue (intuitive). You cannot go to grace, but you can prepare yourself well for the coming of grace to you.
Think about the time when you met a friend. I mean a real friend, a life-long friend, and maybe even your best friend. When you meet a real friend, it was obvious that they were a friend from the very first time, while an acquaintance remains an acquaintance (and nothing more) for a life-time. You are never quite comfortable with an acquaintance.
The same is true of finding love, or finding your passion. You don't happen to it, or them; it or they happen to you. If you need a list to determine whether someone is right for you (and yes, I have done this before myself), then it is the wrong person.
When I founded Operation HOPE, no one had to tell me I should do it, and no one could successfully convince me that I shouldn't. I knew it, and knew that this was my calling, no less than I know that my mother is Juanita Smith. It was intuitive, and I was busy doing it before I had even properly organized it or set it up. It was an "is" in my life.
And while I ultimately stepped up and followed my passion, it took Reverend Dr. Cecil "Chip" Murray, then senior pastor of First A.M.E. Church, to help give me the courage to act.
As I say in my bestselling business book LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), "courage is nothing more your faith reaching through your fear, displaying itself as action in your life."
Initially encouraged by Rev. Murray to "find my voice," and to use my business skills to help rebuild my community, I ultimately stepped through my own fear, to act. By the way, it was Reverend Dr. cecil Murray who stepped in after the Rodney King Riots, and even after then LAPD Chief Darryl Gates told his officers to pull out. Rev. Murray stepped in, and using only his moral authority, authenticity and credibility, succeeded in calming the waters, and ultimately stopping the violence that swept through my home city that April and May of 1992.
I will write more on this at another time, but the short version is this; you have to follow your intuition, to find your passion, and then your love, your purpose, your reason for being in this world. Everyone, has a reason for being in this world, and a unique gift to offer. Your intuition, I believe, is God speaking to you and through you, or as my mentor Quincy Jones would say, "your terminal to a higher power." I love what author Deepak Chopra says here in his Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, which is "we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings, having a human experience."
You have to find "that place," that true place, deep inside of yourself, for yourself. No one can do it for you. My friend and fellow author in leadership Bill George, who also wrote my Forward for Love Leadership, calls it your True North. Read his book he wrote about the topic.
Every year I chose a word, that symbolizes what I am focused on and centered around that year. In 2008, it was authenticity. In 2009, it was authenticity because I liked the word so much. In 2010, it was presence, or to be present. In 2011, it is intentionality. My word for 2012, and it is the first time I have chosen a word in advance of a year, will be balance. If you follow each word, you will quickly discern that you cannot have one without the other. You can read the piece I wrote on "my words" here.
In short, find a way to become reasonably comfortable in your own skin, and everything else will sort out too. Avoid doing this, and nothing will.
Onward and with HOPE
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama