After a presentation, I was asked a question by a member of the audience which  threw me off momentarily.

He asked: “I’ve very much enjoyed your presentation, but can you put it all into one sentence?”

After a long pause, I said: “Principle before passion; passion before purpose; passion and purpose during practice equals possibility.”

These words capture my deepest beliefs and how I live my life to the fullest. Let me share the steps:

Living by principles

For me, there are three unchanging life principles: an attitude of gratitude, the law of the farm and freedom of choice.

An attitude of gratitude

When I was faced with a potentially terminal illness 33 years ago, my doctor’s advice was to first have an attitude of gratitude. To get well, he said that I must first be grateful.

I remember my reply as if it was yesterday. “You’re telling me I may die and you want me to be grateful. You have to be joking!”

During recovery I learnt, and am still learning, a great truth: “When we are grateful for what we’ve got, we can have more of what we want.”

The law of the farm

My grandfather, a farmer, taught me this law. He knew the law as “you reap what you sow”. He believed that if you have fertile ground and you plough, seed  and nurture it, more often than not, you will get a harvest.

Today, this law is phrased as  “what goes around comes around” or “you get what you give”.

Freedom of choice

You are the sum of the choices you have made and haven’t made. Regardless of where you were born, and even in the most dire of circumstances, you can live a fulfilling, happy life that influences and inspires others. 

Living with passion

I live and work with all the passion I can muster and inciting passion is very much a part of what I do. Two best-selling authors Keith Abraham and Charles Kovess share my view too. Here are their views:

“What is passion?”

Said Mr Abraham: “It is loving what you do and doing what you love. It is the desire to work towards a worthwhile goal that stimulates your enthusiasm.”

Said Mr Kovess: “Passion is a source of unlimited energy from your soul (or ‘spirit’ or ‘heart’) that enables a person to produce extraordinary results.”

“How do you discover your passion?”

Said Mr Abraham: “You can either list the activities that you love to do with your time or you can list 100 things you want to achieve in your lifetime and see what reoccurring theme keeps on coming through.”

Mr Kovess recommended this four-step process:

* Be a passion seeker. It’s like making a decision to run a marathon: first you have to decide and then take action.

* Be a detective. Look for the clues in your life that will give you the solution to the puzzle. Ask your parents, their friends, your siblings. Do a chart of your life, showing the ups and the downs, to raise your conscious awareness of your life journey so far.

* Be the riddler. Once you discover it, it may be a “riddle” to work out how to earn a living from your passion. I have always found when advising people that it is possible to earn money from pursuing your passion.

* Be the risk-taker. Take the plunge! The rewards will be worth it because you are discovering and pursuing your soul's purpose.

“Once you have found your passion, how do you keep it alive?”

“Make sure that you are spending time pursuing your passion each week or day. Focus on the things that count for you, that give you the greatest energy and enjoyment,” said Mr Abraham.

Said Mr Kovess: “Use the same principles that you use to stay fit and healthy. These are:

* Write out your goals in great detail;

* Read them every day;

* Don't hang around energy suckers or negative people;

* Don't share your goals with people who may kill your dreams;

* Spend your time with passionate people; and

* Look after yourself physically, so that the machine you live in (your body) can help you rather than hinder you.”

When people are passionate in applying unchanging principles in their own way, they unlock the door to a world of infinite possibilities.