Aneesah Bakker

Owner/Director/Developer, Creative Change Coaching

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How do you "measure" the GREATNESS of your life and career? What to you is evidence of a life well lived... your heart, other's opinions...?


What do I believe to be true? That we are all destined to greatness. Our destiny is to find our passion and then to make it our purpose to act on that passion.

The speaker, Larry Smith, says that passion is our highest expression of our creativity... and I will add

Passion is our highest expression of our creative potential, our greatness and our true nature. Denying this expression is denying ourselves, our natural drive to regeneration. We are destined to this greatness and so too are our children.

Our greatest legacy is to be able to say "Go for it kid, just like I did".

We can listen to this call to adventure or we can deny this call. When we listen to the voices of fear, we create (as we are great creators), great excuses to not find and pursue our passion. The consequences of this I think will be regret." If only" ... are considered to be the two saddest words one can speak...

What happens when we choose to follow our passion?... greatness and great careers!

"If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living."

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    Apr 4 2012: This is how I "measure" the meaning of my life experience:>)

    To laugh often and much;
    To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
    To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
    To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
    To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
    To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
    This is to have succeeded.

    Often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, it is an adaptation of a poem published in 1905 by Bessie Stanley. No version of it has been found in Emerson's writings.
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      Apr 4 2012: Colleen

      Looks like a FORMULA FOR HAPPINESS...

      I love it!

      What also resonates with me is your use of "the meaning of my life experience"
      Yesterday, I was listening to the talk by Daniel Kahneman and he differentiates between experience and memory. He says memory is our story and experience is presence.

      I am starting to look at GREATNESS more and more as presence, and flowing my bliss in the NOW.
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        Apr 8 2012: Hi Aneesah,
        It is MY formula for happiness/contentment, and I realize everyone has different perceptions of what a life of "Greatness" or success looks/feels like.

        We have many choices within our life experience, and I agree with what you write in your introducion..."passion is our highest expression.....our greatness and our true nature. Denying this expression is denying ourselves, our natural drive...". Every moment of the life experience is passionate for me because I choose to live it in that way, otherwise, I would be denying myself an opportunity to learn/grow/evolve as a human being.

        You ask...
        "What happens when we choose to follow our passion?... greatness...."
        There have been several discussions about "finding" our passion. My perception is that passion resides in us and can be accessed in each and every moment, rather than something outside us. That is one choice I make to enhance my life live passionately, aware and mindful in every moment. That is when laughter, respect for all people, effection, appreciation, etc., become the important foundation of one's life. I see no reason to deny myself that opportunity.

        There have also been discussions about the "meaning of life". We have the opportunity to create whatever meaning we want in every moment. We can be aware of the many simple things that happen in our life every day that are very meaningful, or we can continue to search externally for a meaning. Many people are seeking contentment through their career, partners, social or recreational activities, etc. We can bring passion and joy to all circumstances of our life experience, so that the actual experience and the memory of the experience are one and the same.

        Daniel Kahneman is a sweet, intelligent man and his talk is interesting and informative. In my perception, the idea of "experience "vs" memory" simply complicates the issue. Bringing joy and passion to every moment is a simple process and can be a foundation for life.
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          Apr 8 2012: Hi Colleen,

          Your answer is thought provoking as I too like to seek a more all-embracing perspective, one that embraces paradox and where one thing does not have to exist at the "exclusion" of another.

          So experience and memory do not have to be mutually exclusive. You say:
          "We can bring passion and joy to all circumstances of our life experience, so that the actual experience and the memory of the experience are one and the same. "

          The idea of creating a life-enhancing experience and a life-enhancing story at the same time does seem closer to our true and great nature... and the key to this, is through bringing passion and joy to all circumstances.
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        Apr 8 2012: I agree Aneesah,
        We are multi sensory, multi dimentional beings, and in the past we have somehow seperated the different "parts" of our "self" because we (humans) seem to like to catagorize and organize things in a way that we can understand. As you say, one does not exclude the other, it is all connected, and I believe we are evolving to the point of being able to recognize different thoughts, feelings, and emotions at the same time without being confused with the information.
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        Apr 8 2012: Aneesah, what happens if you help to transform, instead of change.?
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          Apr 9 2012: Hi Jaime,

          I never thought of it that way! I have been a creativity & transition coach for so long that I use the terms change and transformation interchangeably. In my mind, helping to change is helping to transform and visa versa.

          Can it be that helping change implies that something needs to be something else? I like to think of change as an authentic expansion, owning one's potential and a process of growth and learning... and the same applies to transformation.

          Giving change a helping hand comes from not resisting the "changes" that happen but transforming our experience of it by owning our greatness! We can not only survive change, but we can thrive at the same time - therefore transformation!
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    Mar 13 2012: Great topic, following a dream nurtures passion and makes a person happy, which is the start to spread happiness around you.
    I'd just like to add my 2 cent worth: a great career is defined by mainstream standards (money, position, etc) and I believe we have much more to gain should we broaden this concept. Today there are too many examples of self-made men/women who made it to the top. This is biased imho because one does not necessarily need to make it to the top to be passionate or be deemed "successful". We tend to neglect the less "shiny" jobs, or at least we forget to include them in the "successful" category. A plumber can be happy and passionate about his job. The re-consideration of ALL kinds of jobs (not only the top ones) would be beneficial to all, because many people would stop trying to fill the "top" positions in "top" sectors for which they are not cut out for, and find their calling more easily.

    Then, Woody Allen's quote: "not only is there no God but try to find a plumber on a Sunday" would become less relevant ;-)
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      Mar 13 2012: Bruno, your 2 cents worth is priceless! "Greatness" and "great careers" are mostly defined by mainstream standards... standards that are externally defined and based on "material"margins of success.

      I agree that "one does not necessarily need to make it to the top to be passionate". There is great evidence that following one's passion can take one to the top and is necessary to keep one there. Passion makes other types of success "sustainable".

      Not everyone has a desire to go to the "top" as the top is defined by mainstream standards.

      In the same vein, more of us can learn to see and appreciate better the "intrinsic" value in others, without judging someone as less "worthy" based on material standards. Therefore, we are all equally worthy regardless of profession or possessions.

      Looking on the bright side, more and more people are coming to put their trust in intrinsically defined values and motivation. While I seek to improve my "performance", to learn more and be a "greater" person, I have also come to realize that happiness for me is only possible when internally referenced>
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    Mar 24 2012: I do not wish to measure my life or "greatness". My measure of a life well lived rests in the ability to face the mirror and see the inner man and be satisfied. We have become obsessed with following our passion. That is a nice phrase, however, I have reached a age where I realize that inner peace and accepting who I am and my place in the greater scheme of things. Greatness is certainly relative. I have contributed to the best of my ability in all things I have undertook. I have lived my life with honor and consider that a success. All the best. Bob
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      Mar 24 2012: Hello Robert...

      I like the point you make "I do not wish to measure my life or "greatness". Many in this thread have suggested that we just be in greatness. I now have an aha moment. When truly and fully in greatness, greatness becomes immeasurable... and what would be the point of stepping out of it to measure it?

      yes "Greatness is certainly relative"

      I'm still passionate about passion. But my passion is entering my greatness and then embracing it more fully. The way I do this is doing my best and in this way making my contribution... so I suppose "honoring my greatness" , in other words, bringing out the best in me.

      All the best, Aneesah
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        Mar 24 2012: The Greeks called that Arete. All the best. Bob
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          Mar 24 2012: Thank you Bob, I looked it up on Wikipedia. I have now truly learned something new and look forward to reading more about this. How exciting!

          And just because I love reaching into the unknown, I am going to have great fun pondering how the Greek word Arete compares to the french word arrêté. (perhaps along the line of "suspending judgment"... who knows where that will take me?)
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        Mar 25 2012: If pursued it would lead you to Cassandra whom the God Zeus instilled the ability to see into the future which I consider to be both a blessing and a curse. This ability would indeed ensure greatness. Arrete in French is dependent upon the placing of the caret and the word before and the word after. Litterally the word arrete means "stop, stop" It can also be a rocky ridge. It has been great talking to you I hope this has helped you in your quest for knowledge. Remenber that education is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the trip. All the best. Bob
  • Mar 14 2012: Thanks for initiating for such a beautiful and deep topic.well, I don't know about others,but the GREATNESS and BEAUTY of life comes when you turn your passion into profession.But ,Irony is that only few gets this chance. I can feel it every moment, how it comes to me as a bliss that I am on the path to pursue my passion (profession).It takes perseverance and the attitude to stick to what you want.The "Dhunn"of your passion,if it really is,will call you on its own and mesmerized in the tune of your passion you reach where you have to be.You need the ears to listen ,Heart to feel and Mind to stay and not waver by the ups and downs,else you have 10s of 1000s of option available.Well,you might be thinking it only sounds good but it actually happens.And you are right "Following our passion means "redefining" failure and redefining greatness." and also Redefining yourself.Synergy of Passion and Profession yields that you have never expected.Last,but not the least,it takes contentment with what you have and what you will get when passion and profession strikes to feel the greatness.
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      Mar 14 2012: Many thanks to you and to all the others who have shown such appreciation and are making such powerful and empowering contributions to this conversation.

      Your words are truly magical and I am speechless... just living in the moment and the space it has opened up.

      Passion into Profession... truly touches my heart. It inspires me to keep on living the "Synergy of Passion and Profession"!
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      Mar 25 2012: Thank you, Bhawna, for your thoughts on greatness and beauty. The path that lead to my career included knowing much about myself. I failed in jobs where I had the choice to do whatever I liked each day. A sunny day would find me down by the river with my shoes off and my feet dangling in the water. I learned that I work best within some sort of structure, a framework of responsibilities so I don't squander my time and energy. Within that framework, however, I need to have the freedom to explore. In my job now, I can work from the office or from home. My day may be 9-5, or 10-10, but I am accountable for completing projects and tasks. I try things and learn from success and failure. It is a GREAT career.
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    Mar 12 2012: To follow our passion, is to risk everything... there are no guarantees and we have to choose courage in the face of fear. The fear is there, we face "failure" and rejection.

    Following our passion means "redefining" failure and redefining greatness.
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    Apr 8 2012: To love and serve....with humility.....and without looking for rewards.....


    Aneesha passion is nothing but pain.
    I believe in enthusiasm, I fell enthusiasm, I cant follow it,because is inside me....

    Passion is also vulgarity. A common place to express the unknown feellings from emotions, the confussion, the sense of "something lost"
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      Apr 8 2012: Dear Jaime,
      When I saw your statement..."passion is nothing but pain", I pulled out my dictionary to check my own perception of "passion".

      Passion: syn,-"fervor, ardor, enthusiasm, zeal"
      "shared meaning element: intense emotion compelling action".

      I didn't see anything about "vulgarity", "confusion", or "sense of something lost" in any reference I checked, nor do I feel that in my heart.

      It could be thought of as suffering, when used in a religious context..."the narrative of the passion and sufferings of christ" for example.

      I don't agree with your statement that "passion is nothing but pain". I have a LOT of passion, and not very much pain:>)
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        Apr 8 2012: Coollen maybe its not passion..... The use of the word is vulgar as a common place, and not too sharp....tha passion itself means illnes in greek (pathos)....enthusiasm means with the Divine inside....also greek (entheos) theres a lot of differences in that two words....

        but if you want to call it passion..........

        there are just words...I see your concept....not your words.....I dont believe in "passion".
        Thanks a lot.
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          Apr 8 2012: Jaime,
          I'm aware of the root words, and also aware of how the word has evolved. I agree...they are just words, and if we can understand each other and our concept, that's the important thing:>)
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      Apr 8 2012: Jaime, beloved, how did you mean vulgarity?

      How do you mean that passion is pain?

      Are you speaking of our common sadness about all the broken ness around us?

      Are you speaking of passion as pain in the sense of the deep woundedness we feel in ourselves when so much of what constiutes the universe of sentience is wounded and weeping?

      Are you saying that part of the greatness which is our humanity is standing in common witness with common tears for that?

      hablamos de la comunalidad

      while anything is broken & wounded we cannot be truly well

      while anyone is hungry no amount of beautiful healthy food can fill us

      while anyone sleeps and lives in fear no amount of comfort and safety can make us truly safe and comfortable

      hablamos de la communalidad
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        Apr 8 2012: Lindsay if "WE" keep our WE sense instead the "I" sense, and realize others as OURselves, then we can follow some paths. But first is very usefull to remind the W. B.Yeats poem. "Second Coming":

        Turning and turning in the widening gyre
        The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
        Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
        Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
        The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
        The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
        The best lack all conviction, while the worst
        are full of passionate intensity.

        There are six types of passion:
        1. Desire
        2. Hate
        3. Greed
        4. Stupefaction
        5. Pride
        6. Envy

        The quality to achieve passion is "rajas": action, movement, fight, effort.
        The character of the passion is the spasmodic leapings, without spontaneous flow. From desire to rejection; from hate to attachment; from greed to gift; from stupefaction to good sense; from pride to modesty; from envy to charity.
        Their mannifestation is instability, lack of equilibrium.
        The immediate consequense is partial blindness when the total amount of energy is focussed in the chosen thing.
        The mediate consequense is the lost of harmony.

        If WE elect (not choose) will instead of passion we achieve with the minnimum effort.
        WE talk about comunalidad, the commonwill in the common sense. Not the common passion in the mass vulgarity.
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        Apr 8 2012: Lindsay OUR happines is based in OUR will...without exception.
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    Apr 7 2012: I'll steal a line from The Wizard of Oz. "A heart is not judged by how much you love: But by how much you are loved by others". A very tough barometer for assessing oneself. But every once in awhile God sends me a messenger telling me I got it right. I have worked with young people in my family business all my life. I have had them come back to me as adults to tell me I have made a difference in their life. As a volunteer firemen for 37 years, I was caring for an inmate from a local prison while transporting him to a hospital. When I left his bed side he said " thank you, no I really mean thank you". Even though he was in for rape my care for his life was the same as it would be for a child. I might have to go slumming to get my respect, but class has never been a barrier for me.
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    Mar 25 2012: Thank you for this insightful conversation. I see career passion as a subset of a greater passion about our lives. I am passionate about balance and harmony -- keeping the forces aligned between family, career, music, community, wonder, and mystery. My career allows me to explore human potential and I decide how far to take that career. My early working life was full of uncertainty and learning (failure). The hardest, and most important, lesson was to not view myself as a victim. Once I made that choice, I took full responsibility for my decisions and my actions. I took great risks -- and things worked out! People choose to see good luck (landing the job I have now) and bad luck (going through cancer treatment at the same time as my wife), but I don't see it that way. Life is life -- yin and yan. I not only have a great career, I have a great life.
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      Mar 25 2012: Dear Eugene, your response resonates with me on so many levels.

      I love the perspective that "I see career passion as a subset of a greater passion about our lives"


      "My career allows me to explore human potential and I decide how far to take that career"

      I have never quite heard/read it expressed in this way. It adds an extra dimension that I feel compelled to reflect on.

      You identify many aspects of this subject that I have also seen to be crucial and pivotal in my experience, aspects such as , being passionate about balance and harmony, exploring human potential, not viewing oneself as a victim, choice, full responsibility, risks.

      Thank you for your powerful contribution.
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    Mar 24 2012: How well you served others, not in self sacrifice but in creating value for others as well as yourself by overcoming barriers and producing solutions. How others speak about you at your funeral.
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    Mar 16 2012: Great perspective!

    Greatness is an experience and is experienced from the heart, and is not dependent on other peoples opinions, judgments or standards.

    We live up to our potential when we are in a position to choose our path and we make the decision to go with it... and for those who cannot... Viktor Frankl in the book Man's Search for Meaning describes that even in the concentration camps, there were great people who were great because they managed to choose how to make the most of life.

    True greatness is very much like the experience you describe... an awareness and a consciousness that "my life is great". As a person who is passionate about people's potential for greatness, it does warm my heart to witness greatness like yours ;-)
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    Mar 16 2012: Life has different meaning to everyone. A highly successful businessman might give up everything in life and become a world traveler without a care in the world.. Likewise, a nomad might set up a highly successful business and change his lifestyle completely. Both are great in their own ways.

    It all comes down to what you want to do with your life.For me personally, My life is my way. If I am happy with what I have achieved, then I would definitely call my life as great.
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      Mar 16 2012: I meant to reply to your comment but seemed to have missed the "reply" button. Please read my comment thread beginning 'great perspective"

      what you say is very relevant. To summarize my "reply", greatness is a personal experience and what matters is the person's consciousness that his/her experience is great and not other people's opinions of his/her path.
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        Mar 16 2012: You summed it up perfectly Aneesah.

        Also, you may find the TED talk by Tony Robbins way back in 2006 quite interesting. Here is the link =>
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          Mar 16 2012: Thank you for that... the link is a perfect fit! I would like to quote the parts that resonated the most with me and with this conversation (from my perspective)

          1. "What is your motive for action? What is it that drives you in your life today?… Because I believe that the invisible force of internal drive, activated, is the most important thing in the world. I'm here because I believe emotion is the force of life. All of us have great minds.?"

          2. This shapes performance, "people's ability to contribute, to do something beyond themselves".

          3. "Whether it be your business, your contribution to society, money -- whatever it is for you -- your body, your family."

          4. "And then you meet people that have been through ultimate pain -- psychologically, sexually, spiritually, emotionally abused -- and not always, but often, they become some of the people that contribute the most to society.

          5. "the defining forces is never resources, it's RESOURCEFULNESS. Emotions can block ability and emotions can propel ability If we get the right emotion, we can do anything. The ultimate resource is emotion,"
          [one of the emotions he lists is PASSION. Then to paraphrase...Meaning produces emotion, this drives us to make certain choices, that drive destiny.

          I had such an "eerie" experience listening to Tony Robbins talk because it seemed to cover everything I wrote about many years ago. I wrote that there are 3 steps to take your Passion to Performance: Find your passion, Create passion-driven goals, Cultivate a Resourceful State.

          Thank you once again for your great contribution.
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    Mar 12 2012: Yes, I think at it's very heart and in essence, passion is to be a happier, better person and to be an example and support to others. We recognize this potential for happiness in ourselves and in others... no matter what our situation.

    By choosing to embrace happiness no matter what we see and hear around us, we are contributing to this world. Following our passion is not meant to be at the expense of others.

    Following our passion is meant in the sense of authentic passion and not the desire for money, fortune or fame. Our authentic passion is to embrace our full authentic potential and not about acquisitions, possessions and the like. It is about inner prosperity rather than the pursuit of outer prosperity for the sake of materialism.

    I do agree with you that Life gets real meaning when we are aware of our authentic connection to others. We can each make a difference and there is always place to spread happiness :-)
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    Mar 12 2012: To pursue my passion is to overcome each presenting obstacle as it appears. Obstacles may be be rooted in my past or present, may be real time-constraints, money, illness/energy, mindset, values, social pressures and criticism. I am driven. Some unpleasantness is to be expected.

    Set big goals. Do something everyday that gets you closer to those goals. Put on mental blinders that block out negative and disruptive influences as much as possible. Seek like-minded people with whom you can share your ideas and critique each other in a positive environment.

    I don't believe passion is a part time enterprise.
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    Mar 12 2012: Hi.... Passion and careers are different things. In this world passion word are changing . Money is everything, this is only thing that create Chaos in the world.
    From my side happiness is great thing. Helping people is great passion. Career is only thing to drive myself in this world. I live in India there is many problem if I walk through one street to another street so If i hold Lunch box in my hand and I see one people who is hunger, Then what i do?? So life is only worth If we help people , share great ideas with different generations(older as well as Child).
    My passion is spread smile around me .
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    Apr 8 2012: I think it's important to follow your passion but I also think what is most important is to find your happiness outside of yourself in others. Sometimes you can follow your passion to the detriment of love and that's sad. Love is hard, can be hurtful.. but it is also so rewarding and it makes us more human. Passion is beautiful and necessary but not the sole meaning of our life. It's an emotion that drives us towards a goal... but let that goal be love.
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      Apr 8 2012: Catherine,
      What if one recognizes passion, happiness and love both outside and inside oneself? What if love is our passionate goal?
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        Apr 9 2012: Hi Colleen, it would be beautiful if love was our passionate goal but sometimes people have a passion for success or self-assertion that squashes love. (By the way, I understand passion as a powerful emotion that drives you towards a goal). Passion and love can and should coexist but I think it's not a given. You can love without passion and you can have passion for something without love. What is ideal is to love passionately. (Hope all this makes sense!)
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          Apr 9 2012: Catherine,
          It makes a LOT of sense and I agree:>)
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    Apr 8 2012: A wonderful question and wonderful posts...

    In my old age I have come to believe that each of us is born with an inherent greatness of gift and purpose..a uniqueness no one else has and that the world needs.

    So living a life of greatness is uncovering that unique and greatly needed greatness in ourselves.

    Now that I am old I am astonished every day at how some seeemingly random experience or bit of knowledge in my own life, quite ofte those expereiences or learnings I did not consider on the main path, will rise up and speak again and be meaningful and useful in a particulat moment. That I still "possess" and can recall and use these odd bits of my life and learnning perhaps says they were part of the unique "I'".

    The greatness of a life is in that interpenetration between all of us as unique"I''s", turning outward in service to humanity. Those moments where we feel that "clicking" into place are momentsof greatness.
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      Apr 8 2012: Lindsay you are in GOLD age not in "old age".
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    Mar 17 2012: "Why you will fail to have a great career" brings to mind the wise words by Marianne Williamson

    QUOTE: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? ...

    ...Your playing small does not serve the world...

    As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

    Could it be that our excuses are our way of getting in our own way because we fear we are powerful beyond measure? Owning our greatness is a huge responsibility.
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    Mar 16 2012: It has been pointed out by a fellow commentator on the "Why you will fail to have a great career" (see the comment thread for the video), that:

    any attempts on my path to define or redefine passion will be misleading!

    This serves to highlight the very point made by the speaker Larry Smith. The point is that when you follow your passion (heart), it will lead you to a great career. When you follow your rational, judgmental, excuse-making mind, it will mislead you and you will fail.

    This reminds me of the iconic dilemma: "To be or not to be... that is the question"
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    Mar 14 2012: Another thing I have a passion for is "passion quotes". All those quotes about following your passion, following your bliss, following your heart... and following your rapture.

    Here is what Joseph Campbell said:
    ‘I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.’ I think it worked.
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    Mar 12 2012: Yes, Yes, Yes... sometimes, when we speak of our passions, we are seen to be "idealistic" but with no sense of reality. I love the way you show that passion does not mean there are no challenges.

    To follow one's bliss/passion is a lot of work, it takes commitment, dedication and goal setting. It also takes purposeful strategies like the ones you have mentioned to stay connected to your passion and to navigate the extra challenges of those who are not like-minded.

    and yes, "Seek like-minded people" for collaboration and/or mutual trust and appreciation.

    I would also like to highlight your point:
    "I don't believe passion is a part time enterprise"