We were about halfway through the interview when I needed to hit the rewind button.
“Talk about when you found your purpose and passion and developed your craft,” I said.
I was interviewing Bishop T.D. Jakes.
He’s been the preacher at the Potter’s House for 22 years and has all these different ministries that he started. He reaches tens of thousands of people a week through his sermons. He’s also an entrepreneur (His business is his church and he has an entertainment company called TDJ enterprises). And he’s also a bestselling author. (His latest book is “Soar!: Build Your Vision From the Ground Up.”)
The Man Of Reinventions
T.D. lives his reinventions at the moment. He didn’t go from career X to career Y to career Z and reinvent. He built a life.
And he started by just helping people who needed it most. His initial ministry was for minority women. They were living in the south. And probably all felt stuck.
“They felt unheard… invisible,” he said, “Minimalized and disenfranchised. I heard it in their speech. And I studied before I spoke to understand more aptly how to get these women to realize the pain and secrets they have are not unique. There were other women who had been through adversities and traumas.”
And he wanted to connect them to each other. It was his first objective. To help them understand they were not alone. “It’s about evolving as a person,” he said. “And this is universal.”
Here are 3 lessons I learned from Bishop T.D. Jakes on learning how to evolve, where to go next and what step to take:
Be the Master of Your Destiny. Not a Victim of Your History.
T.D.’s career trajectory is straight up. So I wanted to ask about his vulnerabilities. Did he ever have a midnight blunder?
He told me that his car got repossessed once. And he couldn’t keep his utilities on.
“I felt shame. I was angry. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. I hate losing.”
“Were you scared?”
“I was scared to death. But I’m not the kind of person to walk away from a fight.”
“You’ll win if you don’t quit,” he said. And he didn’t he kept preaching. He kept being himself. One opportunity leads to the next. Each person you help, he’s another. Eventually, T.D. met Tyler Perry. And they started doing theatre together.
I thought it was crazy. “WHAT?! You started doing plays with Tyler Perry?”
He didn’t get trapped in what wasn’t working for him. He just tried something new. And I shouldn’t say it like that like he “just” tried something new. Because that can hard.
Or it can be easy…
“We have an opportunity to reinvent ourselves,” T.D. said. “And often we don’t take advantage of that. We allow ourselves to be in prison, never realizing that we hold the key. We’re stuck in a world our decisions helped to build. If you change your decisions, you can change your world. I think fear is the jailor that hold people most captive.”
Willing to Be a Student Again
If I’m sitting in a room where I’m the smartest person there, then I’m not growing.
“Most of us find ourselves encapsulated in an environment that has become so mundane…” T.D. said, “but if you’re willing to walk into a new realm and be willing to take the backseat and grow into it, you’ll continue to grow all your life. And to me, that’s really living.”
I joke about telling myself that I’m stupid. But I am. I have to be.
I asked T.D. “How do you find that introspection to say to yourself ‘I’m not moving forward’?”
“You want to create a life for yourself where there is uncertainty. Where there is ambiguity. Because that creates creativity and curiosity. It gives us space to listen as well as teach.”
Don’t Be Defined by One Thing
So often we don’t know what our passions are. Sometimes we do. But it’s hard for us to understand how we can leave our corporate job and start doing what we love.
T.D. sees this in his congregation.
And he tells them this…
“Understand that the cubicle doesn’t define you. Just because it pays you, doesn’t mean that it defines you. And sometimes it betrays the greater gifts that lie inside of you.”
“So what should people do? What’s step one?”
“Volunteer and discover a new area. Or take it on as a hobby. Do it part-time. Just explore it. I’m not saying that you have to marry it, date your next move. Just go into the realm. Couple yourself with people who are doing things that you think you would like to do.”
You have to test out your evolution if you’re unsure.
I’ll give you an example from T.D.
“I play the piano,” he said. “But my love for music does not hide the fact that I don’t play well enough to have made a career out of it. I may forever be a fan, but I’ll never be a maistro.”
Instead, he has a huge music and fine arts department at his church. And he produces music, too. There’s always ways to slice a passion. .
“I believe that most of life’s answers lie within the human heart,” he said. “If you take a moment to look over your life and see the things you did that gave you a gleam in your eyes. And energy came into your spirit. Those are the areas of passion. And passion and purpose are interwoven together. If you follow your passions, you will discover your purpose.”
T.D. has a great quote in his book.
It says: “You can’t be committed to the dream, you have to be committed to the process.”
I’ve been writing about this same topic recently. I think I stole it from him.
That’s another way to know your next direction (not your one direction… just your next one). Make a list. Which processes do you enjoy? Driving? Talking? Computing? Designing? Don’t look for a skill. Look for a process.
T.D says, “If you don’t become process oriented and the only thing you want is the destination, you miss the education. You miss the beauty of the craft. You miss the experience.”
And watch for the attitude.
“If you love the destination, but you don’t love the journey, sometimes it creates an attitude where you get bored with the journey. And thereby missing the destination. It is not so much the outcome that is important, it’s the things you learn along the way.”
[This post appeared first on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission.]