By Steve Lackey
Angst about whether to navigate life toward a responsible purpose, or to pursue all you can be (aka following your dreams) seems to be an increasingly pervasive human condition. The idea that you must choose one at the cost of the other often results in inevitable internal compromise, potential regret, and even bitter resentment (not to mention additional perhaps imaginary feelings of judgement and disapproval from whoever you think is paying attention).
Finding a purpose versus pursuing a passion is something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, and as I’ve molded my own life into something that combines both, I still see that I may have been missing the bigger point.
If you’re paying attention, there’s something you’ll notice of certain people, often within moments of being near them, that gives you the impression that they are happy: satisfied, yet purposefully not content. Not in an overbearing way, but in a more self-confident way. In a way that shows they are genuinely excited about where they are and looking forward to pursuing what comes next without hesitation. These people inspire me.
Most recently, our friends David Morken and Henry Kaestner (cofounders of North Carolina based Bandwidth.com and DurhamCares.org) demonstrated what I’m talking about. Amid running one of the fastest-growing private companies in America (fourth fastest, according to Inc. 500 2008) and cultivating a philanthropic revitalization in Durham, they decided to put together two teams to participate in RAAM (Race across America). To be clear, RAAM is not a casual bike ride. It’s a grueling race that covers 3005.1 miles in less than a week. A nonstop test of physical, mental, and emotional endurance.
David’s competitive four-man Bandwidth.com team was composed of recreationally competitive cyclists who all hold full-time jobs (working 50–65 hours per week) and they rolled in three hours ahead of the second-place team to win it with style. If you have the pleasure of meeting David, you’ll see that his passion is contagious. It seems whether he’s running his ever-growing business, experiencing life with his family, or riding his bike, he is doing it with passion. There seems to be no other option for him (which is probably why he can do so much in a given day).
Henry’s 8-person Durham Cares team was built not from elite cyclists but from local Durham leaders (who have a stake in the revitalization of the city they call home). A mere ten hours after David’s team, the 8-person Durham Cares team rolled in with huge smiles on their faces (in a very respectable fourth place). Just to have finished would have been a remarkable feat. The passion Henry exudes is an absolute match to David’s. His passion inspires others to discover their own, and their team of eight used every ounce of that to propel them through the course on such a strong pace—all while raising over $100,000 for Durham charities.
In watching people like David and Henry over the years, and others like our friends Spencer Lueders (founder of 24 Hours of Booty, which raises $1 million annually for the Lance Armstrong Foundation), Molly Barker (founder and continuous visionary for over 160 Girls on the Run councils across the country), and of course the man who is on our cover for the third time in seven years, Lance Armstrong, who seems to live each day as if it were a gift to him, I’m learning that it’s not necessarily the “living with a purpose” or “following our passion” that makes us happy and fulfilled and meaningful. Perhaps our purpose, what we were meant to do, and the best way to celebrate the life we’ve been given, is simply to live passionately—no matter what.
Inspire. Perform. Endure.
P.S. Sincere thanks to all of you for supporting and encouraging us as we grow Endurance Magazine. Entering our eighth year with this issue (our 85th), we are humbled and proud to be such an important part of your culture.