Learning From Livers: The Power of Passion to Fuel Our Work and Life
“Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver.” –William James
By Amita Shukla
A few years ago, during lunch with a friend, she shared her story of undergoing a major organ transplant. In the days following her procedure, her condition was precarious but she pulled through.
In the years
Her desire “to get well,” as I have learned through the years, is about much more than a drive to live. It is a burning passion for her mission—to make a difference in the lives of patients through advocacy, education, and innovation—a calling she has made her own for close to two decades.
Over the years, while mentoring, advising and investing in healthcare innovators and entrepreneurs, I have always looked for one quality above all others—an inner fire. Such burning passion not only ignites the work of change agents, it serves as the essential fuel for their success.
In today’s fast-changing times, we need such passionate change agents more urgently than ever to catalyze progress toward a better world. Yet, what is the stuff of their passion? I think that true passion—the kind that betters the world—is the convergence of three powerful forces:
1. Unconditional Love: When we are truly passionate about something, we are excited about it. Beyond enthusiasm, we also find deeper purpose and meaning in it. Unconditional love comes from a deep, authentic place. It embodies steadiness and continuity and is grounded in caring and compassion. It is more about a mission or vision of how the world could be than about any particular idea of how it will become that way. Such love brings clarity to our dreams, yet maintains flexibility in how we attain them.
2. Unwavering Commitment: Change agents are often out to disrupt the status quo in a world where doubt, skepticism, cynicism, and judgment easily arise. What separates those who succeed from those who fail is an ability to not be distracted by naysayers, to keep going, and to maintain a relentless focus on desired outcomes despite the potential for derailment. Such commitment harnesses focus, transforms stumbling blocks into stepping stones, and energizes forward momentum.
3. Unqualified Courage: Fear, doubt, failure, and the temptation to quit are part of every journey. The difference between those who keep going and those who give up is not the absence of fear. It is the capacity to live with fear. Being able to bear fear is at the core of resilience, perseverance, and grit. It allows us to recognize and acknowledge risks without being held back by them. Courage empowers us to focus on the positive, on what can go right. It keeps us going as we often fail our way to success.
These forces burn
When it comes to living, in the words of William James above, she is the most alive “liver" of life I know. Her name is Donna Cryer and if you are reading this you may know her already. As a founding member of her board, I know that the greatest power she brings to her work is not written in her bio or resume. It can only be seen and felt—in her light that is always shining, tirelessly focused on making a difference, and spreading joyful energy to everyone around her.
As we gather in gratitude this Thanksgiving, let us remember to give thanks for such “
And then, do more than give thanks. Go out and make change happen. Light your passion within with courage, commitment, and love. Or, become fuel for another liver and keep their flame burning bright.