Author Nicholas Pearce describes finding true purpose, regardless of life stage


(Clare Proctor/Daily Senior Staffer)

ETHS principal Marcus Campbell and author Nicholas Pearce speak at a Family Action Network event Wednesday. Pearce discussed his book, titled “The Purpose Path: A Guide to Pursuing Your Authentic Life’s Work.

Clare Proctor, Reporter

For the many people feeling trapped in their day-to-day lives, unsure if what they are doing really matters, author Nicholas Pearce said a solution could be finding authenticity in one’s true purpose and calling.

“You can stay on autopilot and then have regrets,” Pearce said. “Or you can say, ‘My authenticity is worth thinking of. My life matters more.’”

Pearce discussed his new book, “The Purpose Path: A Guide to Pursuing Your Authentic Life’s Work,” with Marcus Campbell — assistant superintendent and principal at Evanston Township High School — at a Wednesday Family Action Network event. FAN hosts events featuring human development speakers throughout the year in the greater Evanston area with the mission of connecting parents with educators and professionals.

In the book, Pearce describes his own pathway to uncover his true “vocation” — a term originating from the Latin word for calling.

Pearce is a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, the founder of The Vocati Group consulting firm and an assistant pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago. Despite having multiple careers, Pearce said he has one vocation that “transcends” his careers: to be of service to others and facilitate their growth.

Pearce’s purpose interweaves into his various careers, he said.

“I don’t leave my brain in the parking lot at church,” Pearce said. “And I also don’t leave my soul in the parking lot of the classroom.”

Though Pearce comes from a Christian worldview, he said the book was not written strictly for readers sharing these beliefs. He said the book was written for people looking to “pivot into something that my life will actually count.”

This happens on the individual level, but also at the organizational level, Pearce said. He said it’s important for businesses and nonprofits to begin asking the question of why the work they are doing is significant.

“There’s no such thing as an organization without a customer,” he said. “Whose good are you contributing to?”

Campbell, who facilitated the conversation at the event, said he asked his staff at ETHS the question of, “Why are you here?” He said the responses were “so inspirational,” reminding teachers why they went into education in the first place.

Evanston resident Patricia Anderson — who attends the Apostolic Church of God — said, though she wasn’t surprised by what Pearce said, his language “clarified” issues surrounding finding one’s purpose, such as the distraction of social comparison.

“The culture we live in is consumer-based, which drives a lot of what happens,” Anderson said. “That’s what really resonated with me.”

Anderson, who described herself as being in her “third-third” of life, has decided to get a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Oakton Community College.

Terry Soto, also an Evanston resident, said she comes to nearly every FAN event. The 68-year-old said she is continuing to find out her purpose as she is beginning a project to make a website and podcast.

“I am very much in the process of dealing with the anxiety but the excitement,” Soto said. “I’m coming away with a lot of encouragement.”

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