Finding your purpose? Look here.

Exploring the edge between what you really love and what you fear most can reveal your life's purpose.

Fear is moving away from an action or an activity.

Love is the force that brings you forward.

Love literally is that force that’s connecting you to life. Even fear is part of love, because when you’re afraid, it’s the dark shadow of love. Because you desire something, and worry you can’t have it or won’t have it or it will be taken, you are afraid. So fear can hold us back, and sometimes rightfully so. Sometimes we need to be held back. Jumping off cliffs, real or metaphorical, is a great thing to be afraid of.  But how do we make sure we get our settings right between these opposing forces, fear and love?  Because as we all know, there are parts of us that are unbalanced in our fears. And sometimes, in our loves as well.

The scale of the life purpose we can walk in is bounded by our ability to balance love and fear well.

Your border between love and fear is where you’ll find your Purpose.

We won’t “find” our purpose like we find a coin on the street. It finds us.

I’ve met enough entrepreneurs –people like you and me– to realize what drives us is never the industry, or even their technical skills—although these can be springboards. It’s something much more central to who we are. Something that never ceases to irritate and engage. That central “bug” that has to be different—the change we are always tweaking in the world.

Whatever that is, that is the seed of a great business—and it springs from great love.

The scale of the world we can rule is bounded by our ability to balance love and fear well. You’re going to need to learn to build a nest in love, for yourself, and for forever.

When it comes to creating or making a world for yourself, love is the allegiance that’s going to make it last. Think about it. There are many types of creating leadership—including cults of personality, domination, subjugation, fear or overpowering. But real leadership is from love. When you name the world’s greatest leaders and what they had in common, the ability to lead from loving snaps into focus.

As I edit this essay, the world has just lost a great lover—Nelson Mandela.

If we focus on his early life, as he jumped around from school to school and job to job, or later as he pursued activism through the African National Congress, that’s not so clear. Clearly the young Rolihlahla Mandela inherited many fears, and found many of his own. He always pushed at what was possible, founding the first black law firm in his country, but the country wasn’t ready for law to be his weapon. He turned to military force, leading armed struggle and helping to establish the Spear of the Nation, Umkhonto weSizwe.

Imagine his feelings, when he was arrested, in prison, and soon to be diagnosed with tuberculosis.  Did Mandela know what to do? Did he know the secret to bringing a more unified South Africa?

No, he did not.  In fact, he said, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.”

And so, one fight at a time, one promise at a time, one cough and pain and problem and hard conversation at time, was South Africa united. From prison, Mandela did not aspire to be President. Yet, on 10 May 1994 he was inaugurated South Africa’s first democratically elected President.

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Just like Mandela, you will find your calling and life’s purpose in the cracks and crevices between what you’re passion about, and the place where you find things today. Remember, it always seems impossible, until it’s  . . . done.

As we take in the whole breadth of this amazing person into perspective, what we see is a growing sense of love in him for all people.  A growing acceptance of white, and black, and everyone’s perspective. And what a difference that made for himself, for his people, for his country and yes, for the world.

What we care about—anything we love—gives us the power to go the distance to greatness.

It’s a key to unlocking a great reservoir of wisdom, beauty and grace within yourself. When you think about the world’s great leaders, those who helped others rise above, do they have access to an artesian well you can’t taste? Not at all. It’s with you right now. If you can feel your heart, you can feel this truth.

If we’re interesting in changing the world, even only our own world, we have to first make sure we deeply love. We have to love the change we are attempting to create. We have to fall in love with our vision through people, not as they should be, but as they are.

We who are called to leadership are called to love beyond ourselves, sincerely, truly, and nearly forever. Rather than have an on and off again flirtation with true love, I want you to conquer this mountain, and make it your home.

To let this power of love loose in your life more fully, we need to find that frontier in ourselves that’s the border between love and fear–our purpose.

This is an essential, existential question that comes up when we are searching for a career, a spouse, even a tagline for our businesses. In other words, we can’t escape the core question of our own frontier.

Hamlet called it, to be or not to be. It’s that basic. It is in a word, your purpose.

I am of the opinion you can’t ever decisively solve it—language wasn’t made for capturing something that essentially takes an entire lifetime to express. You can feel it though.

Try to feel it, inside, and you can trace it with your finger of attention. Close your eyes, and feel that line from your throat to your belly, through your heart—feel that heart, and its driving beat, its bigness. That warm expanding, happy, living feeling is your home. And your purpose is what makes your heart, your home.

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This is an excerpt from the book, How You Rule the World: A Survival Guide for Female Founders, available free on Amazon Kindle.

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