Intentional Pursuit

“You never stopped pursuing me and serving me for 50 years!”

Those were the words that my friend, Colleen, spoke to her husband, Steve, as they renewed their vows after 50 years of marriage. The words were so powerful, that Pastor Kendall used them in a subsequent Sunday message.

Think about that! For 50 years, he pursued and served his wife. That kind of pursuit requires intentionality. The interesting thing is, Steve has done the same thing in his career. He has a business that has been one of the top ranked businesses in the DFW metroplex (and beyond) for many years.

Because I’ve had opportunity to observe the culture inside his business, I became aware that his pursuit of excellence, and serving his employees, likely has to do with the culture that resonates with all involved with the company.

Because we attend the same church, I have also seen both of them pursue and serve in leadership roles and in building relationships.

It reminded me of research done at Harvard University a few years ago. It indicated that pursuing purpose (over passion) brought success and fulfillment. And the indication from the study was that although passion can drive us, pursuing with purpose gives us resilience to press forward to success.

Let’s look at what pursuing means:

  • To follow in an effort to overtake or capture
  • To strive faithfully to gain or accomplish
  • To chase after something or someone with determination
  • To press yourself toward a goal or achievement until it has been accomplished

Research has long shown that the act of pursuing releases great doses of dopamine into our systems. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that creates those “feel good” vibes that everyone loves!

As Tom Corely says: “The anticipation of getting something you want elevates your dopamine levels every time you think about that thing you want. This is one of the reasons the pursuit of success, the pursuit of something meaningful, the pursuit of a dream and the pursuit of goals is often remembered by self made millionaire‘s as they happiest time in their lives.“

The truth is, everyone of us desires happiness and fulfillment. This leaves us with two questions to consider:

What are you pursuing?

How do you pursue it intentionally?

We are all pursuing something. The question is what are you pursuing? And why are you pursuing it?

I made that statement in the introductory session of my Power of Purpose workshop and on a break, a very concerned parent of a teenage son approached me and said, I so wish that statement you made about us all pursuing something was true of our 18-year-old son. He graduated from high school, and took a few classes at community college this semester. He only passed two of them, and he’s not pursuing anything. Other than video games.

Because I had heard this from many parents, I knew the answer… But I asked how many hours daily he spent on video games. They said likely 8 to 10 hours a day. I told them that we would never spend that much time on something if we were not in pursuit of some thing… Some goal… Some outcome… It was obvious that they had tuned in to what I was saying.

I suggested that they have a conversation with him about that, rather than making it an argument. Find out what he’s pursuing and see if there are additional ways to meet that need.

(The parents actually had that conversation, and realized that he was pursuing relationships. They spent some time with him on his game, getting to know some of his “online friends.” What had been an argument for many years became an understanding, which turned into conversations about his future, his desires, and how to get there).

The point being… We are all pursuing something. The question is, what are you pursuing? And at the end of the day, we need to know that what we are pursuing is fulfilling to us, and to our purpose.

Steve has been pursuing and serving Colleen for 50 years. What was his purpose? I believe his purpose must have had something to do with getting to a 50-year anniversary… With having a wife who was still in love with him… To having a home life and marriage that brought them both great peace and joy.

We are all pursuing something, but do we know why? Perhaps our energies would be better spent and have greater results if we pursued intentionally, with purpose!

Here are some of the ways great leaders and successful people do this. These keys will work for you too! Whether you are pursuing a partner/spouse, whether you are pursuing a great business venture, whether you are pursuing a better relationship with your kids, with your in-laws or with God!

Pursuing with intention:

1. Know your outcome and purpose.

When we fly by the seat of our pants and see what will happen, we lose focus and drive to accomplish what we are pursuing. When I was growing up, and would ask my dad if I could join some endeavor, like the band, I would always get the same lecture.

“If you’re going to pursue something, you’re going to pursue it well. You’re going to pursue it consistently, and you are going to conquer it! Do you understand me?“

I don’t think I understood it all, but I knew I had to nod. I also knew another question was coming. “So why on earth do you want to do that (try out for the band)?“ I knew that my answer had to be convincing or I would not get a yes.

I think it set me up to always know my outcome and purpose from a very young age. I was shocked when I got to college how many people had no idea why they were in college, what they wanted to do, or had any sense of pursuit in them for anything.

Knowing your purpose and your outcome for anything you pursue is a prerequisite to finding your way to happiness and fulfillment with it.

What are you pursuing? And what is your purpose? What outcome are you hoping to get?

2. Develop a plan weekly.  

Pursuing with intentionality requires planning and strategic thinking.

I think with many situations, we all have good intentions, but good intentions (without a plan), are just thoughts that make us feel better. Sometimes we allow the “feeling better” that comes from those thoughts to prevent us from doing real planning, and executing the plan. 

Knowing your purpose and your outcome helps you stay focused, and propels you to action. But firing off randomly is not a plan.

I’m sure Steve had a weekly plan in pursuing Colleen. For example, you cannot wait until Saturday afternoon to make a reservation for a special restaurant on Saturday evening. 

I have a meeting with myself every Sunday evening, and a strategic part of that meeting is identifying what I am pursuing, my purpose and outcome for each of them, and developing a plan about how I will put that pursuit into action for the week.

What are you pursuing today? What is your plan? And what is the outcome you are hoping for? Be very focused, and you will have great results! And the happiness and fulfillment that accompanies it!

3. Be consistent, not depending on “feeling like it.”

Pursuing requires consistency. And of course, consistency has no room for “when you feel like it.”

Maintaining consistency is one of the primary characteristics of all great leaders. They have found ways to encourage themselves when they would rather just “chill“.

There will be moments when you will find yourself in that position. That’s when you have to reach down into your innermost being and tell yourself: “We can do this!” If it’s worth pursuing, it’s worth pressing through these moments. The outcome will be worth every bit of it!

I have what I call my “encouragement speech“ that I give myself at these moments. It says this:

“Neecie, you are pursuing this because _________. You are pursuing it because you know it will bring happiness and fulfillment. That is what you deeply desire. You are better than flaking out. Stand up for what you want! Press through this moment! You have done it before, and you can do it now! Get up girl! Show yourself who you really are!“

I encourage you to write your own encouragement speech, And deliver it to yourself at these key moments. It is worth it my friend!

4. Use “out of the box” strategies.

Sometimes we tend to settle for “do what everyone else is doing“ strategies. And some of those are certainly a part of pursuing!

But as I learned years ago, doing the predictable gets you the predictable. And while getting some predictable things is satisfying, there is so much more! The greater the out-of-the-box strategy, the greater the fulfillment.

When Steve Jobs was developing his Apple products, he knew the competition was stiff, and therefore, he created out-of-the-box strategies. Such as when he changed the core value of “helping people do their jobs better” to “for people who are passionate about changing the world.” Everyone wanted to be associated with that!

Another good friend of mine who has recently celebrated a 40th anniversary (at their party, that looked like they were school kids ) was excellent at out-of-the-box strategies. When he was pursuing her early in their marriage, he sent her a message on Friday morning that said, “Pack a bag with three sets of workout clothes, three sundresses for evening “

At 3 PM, a limo picked her up, took her to a private airport and loaded her onto a plane where there were appetizers and roses. She got off the plane in Laguna Beach, where they stayed in a bungalow for three days. I remember when she was telling me about it, she was so starry eyed. Out of the box strategy for pursuing!

Now for anyone thinking, “Well of course but I can’t afford anything like that.“ How about this? Send her a note and invite her to be ready to be picked up at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Gather some cheese and crackers, and a rose, and take her to a spot where you can sit and watch the sunset together.

Go the extra mile, think strategically, think outside the box. Whether it be a business matter or a personal matter, pursuing in that manner creates unbelievable results!

5. Become irresistible.

Yes! Become irresistible. What does that mean? That means become an even better version of you for that situation.

If you are pursuing your husband or your wife, would you look healthier and sleeker if you lost 10 pounds? Then do it!

If you’re in a business venture and you’re about to interview someone who has been successful in your arena, become a better version of you for that meeting. Find out what they’ve done and accomplished, prepare yourself to ask questions that will benefit you. Show up at that meeting as a better version of you.

When Colleen said that sentence to Steve in her vows for their 50th anniversary, she inspired many. She inspired me. I am certain Steve did all five of those things through the years, which resulted in a powerful statement from her! A statement that inspired many!

We are all pursuing something. Let’s identify what we are pursuing. Let’s get clear on the outcome or the purpose of the pursuit. And let’s pursue with all of our hearts.

Long ago, I became aware that what I pursued, and how I pursued it not only brought me great happiness and fulfillment. Perhaps most importantly, I realized it was a model for others to do the same.

Recently a young woman that worked for me years ago sent me a message through Facebook and after catching me up on her life, she said, “Thank you for showing me how to live purposefully, and how to pursue those things that were important to me in my life. It has made all the difference in the world!“

Live your life purposefully … in great pursuit, and it will make all the difference in the world to those around you!