Jullien Gordon on How to Rule Out Career Options and Follow Your Passion

In Chapter 5 of 16 in his 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, motivation teacher Jullien Gordon answers "How Has Ruling Out Career Options Helped You Better Focus On What You Really Want to Do?"  He notes that when you get great at something you hate, you attract more of the thing that you hate.  Going into his Stanford MBA program, Gordon ruled out more traditional paths he did not find appealing and created his own career as a Purpose Finder.  He notes how we often are anchored to a limited number of careers because of an unwillingness to identify and explore paths we did not know previously existed.  Gordon is the founder of the Department of Motivated Vehicles, a personal and professional development company that helps clients identify purpose and map it to successful outcomes. Gordon has written five books and speaks regularly to college students across America.  He earned masters degrees in education and business from Stanford University and an undergraduate degree from UCLA.


Erik Michielsen:  How has ruling out career options helped you better focus on what you really want to do?

Jullien Gordon:  I could be good at a lot of things.  I could be great at a lot of things and often times people move through life and they get great at things that they hate and when you get great at something that you hate all you do is you attract more of the thing that you hate and so going into business school I knew that consulting, investment banking, brand management weren’t for me, not to say that they’re bad career paths, I just want people to move in a way where the career path that are there are actually for them and I couldn’t find one where I felt like I would be able to be fully present on a daily basis so I had to create one and that’s why I call myself a purpose finder.  It’s not a life coach, it’s not a motivational speaker, I’m a purpose finder and it’s a career path that I’m actually paving through my life experiences. 

I’ve met other purpose finders, they haven’t called themselves that – with that kind of language but I’ve met people who do very similar work and so there’s all – there’s an infinite number of career paths that are out there but for some reason we choose from this limited menu of career paths based on what’s prestigious, based on big brand name companies that come to recruit on campus and there may be other paths out there that are a good fit for you.  There something I have called the career choice circle and there’s a small circle of career paths that we know exist and think we know a lot about but the only way you really know about a career is if you have done it for about six months. 

So often times we choose careers with a lot of imperfect information, then there’s this other circle around that called careers that you know exist but you know you know nothing about.  For instance for me firefighter, I know it exists but I don’t know a lot about it. I could say, oh yeah they put out fires and they save cats from trees, right?  But is that really what they do on a daily basis?  That’s a microcosm of what they do.  But where I like to push people is this notion of career paths that we don’t know exist therefore we know nothing about and when you’re driving home, you see these companies on these buildings and you don’t know what that company does, you’ve never even seen the name before but that company is obviously creating value if they’re still here and there may be people and roles within that organization when you are an absolute fit.