The Long History of Purpose-Driven Work

Richard Bolles says that the roots of career development run deep in religion.


I recently interviewed Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?, and we chatted about the spiritual or religious basis for purposeful work.

Excerpts of our conversation:

Have you read The Purpose-Driven Life? Are you and author Rick Warren getting at something similar?

Yes, but there have been a multitude of books written about purpose. In fact, he was a little late to the party. But he gave it a biblical base...and that gave him a whole new audience. There are spiritual aspects to your book.

Oh, absolutely. I was an ordained Episcopal minister for 50 years. If it wasn't in there, I'd be astonished. Do you think that has resonated with people?

Historically, that's how it all began. "Vocation" is Latin for "calling." "Enthusiasm" is Greek for "God in us." All the early thinkers in this field of career development and the people who published their ideas were, every last person, religious. There wasn't a single secular person among them. And now that's not true, of course. Now, they're so scared of religion, they try to involve every kind of euphemism for it that they can, which amuses me to no end. Because, if faith was the impetus originally, for finding work with purpose and your calling, then why try to hide the fact that that's your root? I've been working on a book for years called The Hunger f or God. Besides Christopher Hitchens, 94 percent of Americans believe in God. They let the 6 percent intimidate them. Sometimes, we really, really are dumb when it comes to evaluating the human race. We're so tribal. When one part of the tribe begins to say, "Oh, you can't do that," we all fall in line.


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