We get it, Harvard! That’s how we roll….

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In a recent blog post for the Harvard Business Review, Oliver Segovia writes about a critical ingredient in success and happiness.

And it is not passion.

“Forget about finding your passion,” Segovia writes. “Instead, focus on finding big problems.” He goes on to explain why:

Putting problems at the center of our decision-making changes everything. It’s not about the self anymore. It’s about what you can do and how you can be a valuable contributor. People working on the biggest problems are compensated in the biggest ways. I don’t mean this in a strict financial sense, but in a deeply human sense. For one, it shifts your attention from you to others and the wider world. You stop dwelling. You become less self-absorbed. Ironically, we become happier if we worry less about what makes us happy.

When I read that, I couldn’t help but think: “We get it, Harvard. JMU really gets it.”

Segovia goes on to explain how passion, even when it is potent and sincere, can hit a wall in an economy where jobs are limited. Passion, in other words, can be blunted. Problems, on the other hand, can always be found.

Segovia lists four actions that happy and successful people take – and they sounded very, very familiar. See if you don’t agree….

1. “Develop situational awareness.”  Look beyond yourself, he writes, and you’ll see the big problems. That’s exactly what Alexandra Robbins (’07) and Daniel Haney (’07) did when they saw the plight of orphans in Cambodia. Learn what Alexandra and Daniel did at http://www.jmu.edu/bethechange/stories/azizas_place.shtml

2. “Look into problems that affect you in a very personal way.” Returning to the states and seeing the difficulties that wounded veterans faced as they tried to reconnect felt very personal to Iraq War veteran Justin Constantine (’92). He did something about it. Read about Justin’s solution at http://www.jmu.edu/bethechange/stories/constantineIraqAndBack.shtml

3. “Connect with people working on big problems.” When Rheannon Sorrells (’04.,11 M) found herself in a school setting where students were struggling to read, she connected people and helped transform an entire school system. Find out how Rheannon did it at http://www.jmu.edu/bethechange/stories/warren_county_reading.shtml

4. “Take time off and travel.” JMU is not an armchair, examine-from-afar-and-ponder kind of unversity; it’s a take-charge kind. Madison people find problems to solve all over the world. President Linwood Rose reported to the board of visitors earlier this month that JMU has been recognized as number 1 in the country for masters-level institutions for short-term study abroad and number 2 in the country overall. Learn more about Study Abroad at http://www.jmu.edu/international/abroad/

The approach to success and happiness that Segovia discusses has always been a part of the fabric of JMU. We call it “Being the Change.” JMU people find problems, create solutions and get to work.

So, yes, we get it, Harvard. Being the Change — positive, uplifting, world-changing, problem-solving change — that’s how we roll.

To read the entire piece by Oliver Segovia, go to http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/01/to_find_happiness_forget_about.html


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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