Clarify Purpose and Inspire Greatness


Elizabeth Zott in Lessons in Chemistry lived her purpose, no matter what.


According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, "roughly 85% of 1,000 U.S. professionals polled in a new LinkedIn survey say they are thinking about changing jobs this year, up from 67% a year earlier." WOW! In the past, that percentage has hovered between 50-60%.

Those employees, who are a critical resource in their firm, are obviously not inspired by their work or the benefits they're receiving. The firms themselves are losing an important competitive advantage when their people aren't engaged or motivated in a common purpose. What is that purpose and why isn't it inspiring employees?

Definition of Purpose

Merriam Webster defines purpose as the reason why something is done or used, the aim or intention of something. Purpose encompasses a range of aspirations, from a grand reason for living to narrow objectives. Purpose is used interchangeably with the terms aim, target, goal, and intention.

There is a human need for purpose. In Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl, Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, discovered that purpose gives people a will to stay alive. He reports, "Man actually needs the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him." Kenneth Thomas, in Intrinsic Motivation at Work, says, "We seem to need to see ourselves as going somewhere — as being on a journey in pursuit of a significant purpose.

What Is Core Purpose?

"Core purpose is the organization's fundamental reason for being. An effective purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company's work. It captures the soul of the organization," say James Collins and Jerry Porras in Built to Last. "Purpose should not be confused with specific goals or business strategies. Whereas you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, you cannot fulfill a purpose; it is like a guiding star on the horizon — forever pursued, but never reached."

Purpose is the WHY a firm exists. It's not simply to make money or to increase shareholder value. Those are important goals but not the purpose. Consider these organizational examples of core purpose:

Disney - Make people happy
U.S. Health and Human Services Department - Improve the health, safety, and well-being of Americans
3M Company - Solve unsolved problems innovatively
Girl Scouts - Build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place
State of Colorado, Office of Information Technology - Together we enhance the lives of all Coloradans

Radish Systems, the technology venture I co-founded with Richard A. Davis, has an important purpose: to fundamentally improve the way people communicate with businesses. Learn more.

My Story. I am a catalyst in helping organizations and leaders contribute and deliver extraordinary results. I have led firms, both large and small, in public and private sector, and their leaders in their strategic thinking process. The result is clarity on values, vision, purpose as well as a 1-page strategic plan. Think of me and let me help you define and deliver results toward your core purpose.

Purpose Improves Business Performance

"A key role of core purpose is to guide and inspire," say Collins and Porras. When a firm has an inspiring purpose, people are drawn to work for the firm. The best and the brightest want to be involved. Rather than be itchy to leave, they want to stay, be engaged, and contribute to their fullest. People get a sense of meaningfulness from their work. According to Kenneth Thomas, work that delivers a high level of choice, competency, progress, and meaningfulness leads to intrinsic motivation which leads to high levels of engagement, fun, retention, and results.

A participant in my Pursuit of Passionate Purpose research study, Don Vanlandingham, the retired chairman and CEO of Ball Aerospace, said, "Ball Aerospace combines meaningful work with passionate people. A lot of our people would work even if we didn't pay them." What Don was saying is that Ball's purpose made a positive difference on Ball's culture and inspired their people.

Why Passionate Purpose?

Opportunities surround us, but you must open your eyes to see them. When preparation meets opportunities, you will find your purpose. When you align that purpose with your passion, you will find your passionate purpose. A passionate purpose is a goal or intention pursued with great enthusiasm, interest, zeal, and/or passion. The conclusion of my research, published in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, is: "The pursuit of passionate purpose, as well as its attainment, and connections along the way bring the real rewards of life."

Practical Pointers for Purpose — Organizations and Individuals

PREPARE. Purpose comes when preparation meets the possibilities. Nurture yourself and your passions by continuing to learn, grow, and trying new things. Do things that will build your true self. Be action-oriented.
ASK WHY. Consider using the Five Why Method to know your purpose and why to pursue it.
ASK HOW. How does pursuing this purpose bring meaning to your life?
CLARIFY YOUR PURPOSE. I recently met Kevin McCarthy, author of The On-Purpose Person. He offers this approach.


Purpose is the fundamental reason for being. As Viktor Frankl states, "There is a human need for purpose." Both organizations and individuals have a "why they exist." Prepare, ask why, ask how, get clear, and commit to your purpose!


copyright 2024 Theresa Szczurek, all rights reserved.

credit for photo

How to Cope with Uncertainty

Fires in Boulder County

A house is destroyed in the Marshall Fire.

The winds of change and uncertainty are blowing, constantly. As I write this post, monstrous wildfires have suddenly struck and are destroying neighborhoods in our community. Luckily my family and I are safe, yet it makes me realize how quickly things can change.

Without warning and in areas considered safe, 100 mph wind gusts brought power lines crashing down onto drought dried grass. Fires exploded. More than six hundred homes were gone in a matter of hours. People had seconds to evacuate. Some lost everything.

You Can Help! Community support will be needed by many people in the near and long-term. Already, over 35,000 individuals have been evacuated by the Marshall and Middle Fork Fires and hundreds of homes and many businesses have been devastated. Our partners at The Community Foundation serving Boulder County have activated the Boulder County Wildfire Fund in order to address the needs of the community.

Uncertainty Causes Stress

We live in a world of uncertainty. While this has always been the case, these last few years seem even more unstable with the pandemic, social conflicts, political unrest, financial fluctuations, and more. Uncertainty is the state of being uncertain. It's defined as not known or definite, not able to be relied on, not completely confident or sure of something.

The Stress in America survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychology Association, found that "63% of adults agreed that uncertainty about what the next few months will be like causes them stress, and about half (49%) said that the coronavirus pandemic has made planning for their future feel impossible. Research shows that people react differently to uncertainty, and those with a higher intolerance for uncertainty may be less resilient and more prone to low mood, negative or down feelings, and anxiety."

Practical Pointers on How to Cope with Uncertainty

1. KNOW AND NURTURE YOURSELF. Determine and reconfirm "Who am I?" by looking at your values, gifts, and traits. Start with who you are now. Answers to that question help you define what you're passionate about. By nurturing yourself, you strengthen your sense of self and become the whole person you want to be. This can be your core foundation, even in times of uncertainty, and provide resilience. Engage in self-care. Make efforts to eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, drink water, breathe, and reduce stress through meditation, affirmations, yoga, and prayer.

2. ALLOW. Do not resist. Use the 'Allowing Strategy' as explained in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose. Allowing is also called surrender, nonresistance, lack of control, acceptance, or equanimity. Be clear on what you want and allow how you get it to unfold. Effective Passionate Pursuers are flexible, open to the possibilities, and receptive to options along the way, yet hold firm to the broad intention and pursue it persistently. The Allowing Strategy is about surrendering with equanimity to the natural flow instead of struggling and resisting.

3. BE SELECTIVE. Limit the amount of exposure you have to the media and be selective in what you listen and watch. Avoid dwelling on things you can't control. Say NO to many things, in order to say YES to your passionate purpose.

4. REFLECT ON PAST SUCCESSES. Somehow you survived past unknowns and stress. This knowledge can build your confidence that you will get through this time of uncertainty. What helped you then? What might you do differently this time? Make a list of what to 'Start, Stop, and Continue' doing and then take action.

5. CONNECT AND ASK FOR HELP. Use the 'Connections Strategy' as explained in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose. The most effective Passionate Pursuers realize that it's vital to build relationships with the proper people and support network, and correspondingly to lessen the impact of improper ones. This includes you. Ask yourself what you would tell a friend in this situation. Reach out to family and friends whom you trust. You don't have to isolate or go it alone.

6. PURSUE YOUR PURPOSE. When you know your passionate purpose and direct your energies toward achieving it, you can more easily weather uncertainties. Develop a plan. Pivots will likely be needed along the way. Be creative and resilient. Keep going and persist. Take action. Don't give up.


We live in uncertain times which can cause stress. Use these proven coping mechanisms including: know and nurture yourself, allow, connect, be selective, reflect on past successes, and pursue your purpose.


By Theresa Szczurek, copyright 2021-2022.  All rights reserved.

Good Leadership and Science Matter in a Pandemic

In the challenging times of this pandemic, Coloradans have received the best from two leading medical doctors, both of whom happen to be female. That's why the Business and Professional Women (BPW) of Colorado just named them 2021 Women of the Year. Congratulations and thank you to:

Dr. Rachel Herlihy, MD, MPH, State Epidemiologist and Communicable Disease Branch Chief, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Dr. Herlihy is currently leading COVID-19 surveillance, case investigation, and outbreak response activities for the State of Colorado.
Dr. Michelle Barron, MD, Senior Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Control at UCHealth. Dr. Barron has led the charge against infectious diseases including the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009 and Ebola in 2015. Since January 2020 and the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked around the clock with fellow leaders to protect patients, staff and providers across UCHealth.

During a virtual celebration on April 28, 2021, these two medical doctors shared some important lessons learned and words of wisdom.

Dr. Herlihy shared:

DATA DRIVES POLICY. It's a process: ask questions, go to the data, answer questions, and use this information to drive policy. We lacked a data infrastructure. We have a patchwork of systems. With funds coming in, we can build a robust informatics / data infrastructure.
PEOPLE MATTER. This pandemic requires all hands on deck. My organization grew from 50 to 450 people in a few months. We can be very proud and trust the team. We meet every day, two times per day for 30 minutes in morning and afternoon.
TEAMS WORK HARD. We found new leaders. We built a team, which never met face-to-face. We worked remotely and found ways to come together, communicate, and share. Together we tried to reduce the stress. Good leadership is an example.
COLLEAGUES GAVE SUPPORT. Collaboration came from local public health leaders, Colorado School of Public Health, the Governor's Office and others in the state, and so many more.
VACCINES ARE TO BE TRUSTED. The vaccine trials typically have three phases. To bring the COVID-19 vaccine to market faster they overlapped the phases. They did not cut corners. This approach will be used going forward.

Dr. Barron shared:

GOOD SCIENCE MATTERS. Media wants a headline and wants you to just watch, which led to distrust of good science. Be careful of what you watch.
HAVE CONFIDENCE. Remember FDR's quote, "There is nothing to fear, but fear itself." Imagine how the world will be if we are not afraid.
WE KNOW ENOUGH TO HELP PEOPLE. We are more prepared than most knew. We did a lot right. Past pandemics, such as H1N1 and Ebola, taught us where to improve so we don't struggle with pandemics.
MENTAL HEALTH IS SO IMPORTANT. We all need access to help sometimes. Debriefing on a daily basis can release what happened. When you get home, listen to your breath.
VACCINES ARE BUILT ON DECADES OF RESEARCH. Known to colleagues as Kati, Katalin Kariko, Ph.D. has emerged as one of the heroes of COVID-19 vaccine. Her work, with her close collaborator, Dr. Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania, laid the foundation for the stunningly successful vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. "Science builds on science," Kariko says. "We always built on the people who came before us, and people will use our data. Of course, everything was important that those people did. I would hug them if I could."


Good leadership and good science both matter during troubled times. It is a pursuit of passionate purpose. More pandemics are forecast. People and teams are important collaborators. We are preparing the data infrastructure. Lessons learned:  We know what to do, data drives policy, mental health is important, vaccines are safe and build on decades of research, and be confident,  

by Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D.  @2021 copyright.  All rights reserved. 

Innovation as a Strategy for Success

This is a time of great need. It's a time of great innovation. But what is innovation? defines it as something new or different. The act of introducing new things, devices, or methods. Novelty.
Influential scholar Everett Rogers, author of the classic Diffusion of Innovations book, defines innovation as "An idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption."

Why is Innovation Important?

A particular innovation alone is not enough. It needs to solve a problem or provide value. When implemented successfully, the new or novel idea delivers efficiencies, quality of life, productivity, growth, income, and/or other rewards to society and the economy. Organizations, whether they be governments, non-profit organizations, or for-profit corporations, thrive based on innovation.

The best innovation in the world is worthless if it sits on the buyer's shelf unused or, worse yet, if it sits in your garage unsold collecting dust. To make an impact and produce results, your innovations must be successfully introduced and implemented in the workplace, marketplace, and world. How do you do this?

Using the principles from my research and books, here are Practical Pointers for Innovation using my last Chief Information Officer (CIO) position as a case study.


Jim Collins, author of the best selling book Good to Great, believes that "Core values are not something people buy into. People must be predisposed to holding them." In his Mars exercise Collins explains, "One way to identify your organization's authentic core values is to form what I call the Mars group. Imagine you've been asked to recreate the very best attributes of your organization on another planet, but you only have seats on the rocketship for five to seven people. Who would you send?" Answer: a powerful, credible group that does a super job of articulating the core values precisely because they are exemplars of those values.

When I was appointed State of Colorado CIO, I led the executive team through the Mars exercise in order to discern the core values of the Governor's Office of Information Technology. In addition to five previously articulated values OIT had been living (Service, Integrity, Team Work, Respect, and Courage), we discovered that Innovation was another key, shared value. It was always there. It just needed to be articulated and honored.

We defined this value as, "Innovation: We foster new ideas. We challenge the status quo and continuously ask, How can we do this better? Then we take action and make a difference through novel processes and technology."

The intersection of values and gifts (or talents) describes what you are passionate about. Passion, intense enthusiasm, zeal, fervor, and interest determine how effectively you pursue purpose.


At OIT we next ran a strategic planning process. We conducted a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis. We did a thorough assessment of what was and was not working. Once the values were clarified, we drafted our Mission ("Together we enhance the lives of all Coloradans") and Vision ("Be the best public service technology organization innovating today for tomorrow").

Stay tuned. We'll continue with additional Practical Pointers for nurturing innovation next time. Using the Pursuit of Passionate Purpose framework, we'll show how to align passion with a meaningful purpose and then pursue it persistently. Innovation as a pursuit of passionate purpose delivers great rewards.


With a clear approach, innovation can be nurtured and implemented. Innovation will positively impact public and private sector organizations and help build a stronger state, nation, and world. Strategy based on innovation delivers extraordinary results.  Establish an innovation culture with the right core values, vision, and mission.

What's Next

In the meantime, I'm seeking the right organization to make an even bigger innovative and meaningful impact through the right C-level position and/or board seats in the private or public sector.

Being In-between


"The only permanent thing in life is change." So said a wise meditation teacher of mine, Shinzen Young. Little did I know that he was probably quoting Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, who said, "There is nothing permanent except change."

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines change as an act to make radically different, to give a different position, course, or direction, or to modify.

My News

So I just made a big change. After 21 months as the Chief Information Officer of the State of Colorado, I moved on effective September 4th. Here's part of the August 10th Governor's media release:

"We can't thank Theresa enough for her work to advance the state's IT culture and enhance virtual access to government services in Colorado. She dedicated herself to improving customer satisfaction and ensuring that these essential services are delivered effectively and efficiently to Coloradans," said Governor Polis. "Theresa has also been critical in helping the state leverage IT to weather the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. We wish her the best as she takes the next step in her career."

"The opportunity to serve Colorado has been an extremely rewarding and meaningful journey. Information technology is essential to many state services. It has been an honor and privilege to work on behalf of the Governor and his administration as a catalyst for change, side-by-side with my team of employees who are passionately committed to serving the people in this beautiful state we call home. I came in to pursue a passionate purpose, did what needed to be done, and now am ready to move on to the next opportunity," Szczurek said.

Szczurek, who was one of the few female state CIOs in the nation and recently received the first-ever 2020 Colorado CIO of the Year® ORBIE® Award in the public sector category, led digital transformation in the state with the launch of the historic Colorado Digital ID™ in the myColorado™ mobile app. Szczurek was instrumental in working with the Colorado Department of Revenue on the Sales and Use Tax Simplification (SUTS) system, launched in May 2020 ahead of schedule and under budget.


What's Next?

I am being an In-between'er to take time between pursuits.

As I wrote in Chapter 2 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, an in-between'er has known and pursued passionate purpose. Yet, the time came to let go and take a break. Being on the sideline, instead of in active play, presents opportunities to reorient and rejuvenate. This is the time to get to know and nurture yourself. After the right amount of space in this neutral zone, which only you can define, you will once again be ready to move on to the next stage of your life's overall purpose. And you don't have to be in-between purposes — you can just be resting in-between significant pieces of the same purpose.

An in-between time represents an important part of the cycle of life. Each day is a metaphor for life with a comparable cycle of dawn, day, sunset, and night. In every 24-hour sequence, you need to find time to rest and nourish. And so it is with passionate purposes. There is a time in-between to replenish and feed the soul.

Too often, we do not honor this downtime. We might even beat ourselves up for not having a clear purpose and energy. Have you ever asked, "What's wrong with me?" Perhaps nothing is wrong. It may just be the natural cycle of life seeking the necessary downtime for rejuvenation.

Using the principles of my own work and book, I am:

Taking time to relax, rest, and recharge. I just came back from an outdoor vacation with my family. Among other wild adventures, we hiked with llamas up to the continental divide.
Cleaning out by getting rid of the old in order to welcome in the new.
Getting to know and nurture myself again. Among other things, I'm learning Qi Gong, a centuries-old system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training. Here is the perfect way to unify aspects of myself — head, heart, and hands — into a balanced whole.
Preparing for the possibilities. I am now in the BoardBound program, offered by the Women's Leadership Foundation, which helps women attain board seats. I am also seeking C-level executive positions, especially in technology.
Allowing. This is one of my life-long lessons to learn. This is a time to let go and go with the flow. It's a time to delight in the unknown and yet it's also uncomfortable.


Change is an important part of life, and so is being in the neutral zone. Rather than in active play, being in-between presents opportunities to reorient and rejuvenate, clean out, know yourself, prepare, and allow. This in-between phase represents an important part of the cycle of life. Give it a try sometime.

Being Fearless in the COVID World

“...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,”
said Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1933 inaugural address. 

These are challenging times in Colorado and around the world with the onset of COVID-19. The degree of uncertainty that exists can understandably breed anxiety, and messages that intend to inform and help can make people more afraid. However, we can and will get through this together! 

In my research study about factors that help and hurt in successfully pursuing a passionate purpose, I asked people what holds them back and what encourages them in their pursuit. One of the biggest hindrances is FEAR. Fear causes self-doubt, anxiety, and anger; fear is a heavy burden. What would your life be like right now if you could cast out that fear?

Sometimes fear can help you to take action and avoid danger. For example during the COVID-19 pandemic that means enacting social distancing, practicing self-isolation, and thoroughly washing your hands. It can stop you from crossing a dangerous road or from getting hurt. However, so often fear is NOT rational. It can turn into obsessiveness - thinking about something over and over until you are immobilized and cannot take needed action. Fear can block effective movement.

Once you are aware of the potential negative impacts of fear, the next step is to take appropriate action. Use the “Pack Strategy" to unpack hindrances and pack energizers for your journey.

Here are some practical pointers:

  1. Lead. Take positive action, be calm, and be strong. Often this means focusing less on yourself and more on helping others. Work on being fearless.
  2. Select. Get in touch with what triggers you and be selective in what and who you listen, watch, surf, invest time in, and talk with.
  3. Use good judgment. Determine whether your fear is rational or irrational. If irrational, force yourself to quiet your mind and focus on positive aspects of life. When there is real danger, your body reflexively mobilizes to avoid it, minimize it, or fight through it.
  4. Be optimistic. Carry a hopeful, upbeat disposition and believe that good prevails. Repeat positive affirmations. Think of the good work being done by so many government employees, medical personnel, public health workers, non-profits, and businesses to proactively address the current challenges and ensure your safety.
  5. Surround. Circle yourself with less fearful people. Surround yourself with people who are not afraid. A recent research study showed that happiness is contagious. If you are around happy people, you will be more happy. If you are around fearful people, you will be more fearful. So find happy, kind, unafraid people with whom to associate.

We human beings are strong and resilient, perhaps stronger than we even know. Unpack fear itself from your life. Strive to appropriate action, be aware of fear triggers, use good judgment, stay positive, and surround yourself with unafraid people.

Success Comes from Knowing Yourself: Are you a Hunter, Farmer or What?

A colleague asked me, are you a hunter or a farmer? This is a question that sages since antiquity have pondered and answered with the advice to "Know Thyself." It's not surprising that Passionate Pursuers — those who find and pursue their passionate purpose — have learned how to know themselves. But how can you become familiar with and understand yourself better?

Understanding has two critical elements:

  • VALUES. These are the core beliefs, ideology, ethics, morals, attitude, and ideals that define who you are and what is meaningful to you.
  • GIFTS. These are the talents, experience, abilities, aptitude, and education that mold how you can uniquely contribute.

Traits or personal characteristics allow you to effectively use your values and gifts. People in my research study shared the nine SUNFLOWER traits that are found in effective Passionate Pursuers:

  • Self confidence and esteem
  • cUriosity
  • Never quit
  • Fervor
  • Live the 2-4-6 formula
  • Optimism
  • Wholeness
  • Energy
  • Regeneration

To learn more about these traits, see p. 51 in Pursuit of Passionate Purpose or read my newsletters from 2005 on this subject.

Hunter or Farmer?

When I was asked this question I paused. While often used to describe sales people, this question has broader implications for all members of a business team. Salesloft gives these definitions:

HUNTER: Typically thought of as 'the doers,' hunters aim to close as many deals as fast as possible. They often focus on deal quantity and love to explore new areas.

FARMER: Farmers focus on developing long-term customer relationships and working with others. Sales people with this attitude are happy working with a few customers to create a lasting impact.

I'm a hunter. I love picking up the phone to call someone or meeting a person at a conference and having a conversation to determine their business needs. Can our solution help solve your challenges? Yet, I'm also a farmer. I am committed for the long-term to improving business communications with 'voice with visuals.' So I'm really a hybrid who follows the 'Never Quit' trait for both hunting and farming. What about you?


Know Thyself. Do a personal inventory. What are your traits? How are you nurturing them? Are you a hunter, farmer, or hybrid? Regardless of the answer, to thine own self be true.


Theresa M. Szczurek (,, and

Copyright 2017.  All rights reserved. 

Overcoming Fear: Take Action to Defend Core Values

In challenging times, take steps to overcome fear.  The famous opening sentence of the Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale of Two Cities, begins, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair..."

According to, "It tells about the time of chaos, conflicts, time of despair as well as happiness. It in fact tells us about the time of extreme opposites without any in-betweens." There are polarities that exist in all of life, including ourselves. Learn more at Polarity Management by Johnson, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, Chapter 7 by Szczurek, and Go with the Flow by Szczurek.

Although published in 1859 about the French Revolution, this Dickens message also represents TODAY in a divided country and world. Such challenges can trigger FEAR.


Fear is a strong, unpleasant emotion associated with anxiety and fright. The known and the unknown — such as uncertainty — can trigger fear. There are at least two kinds of fear: irrational fright that you make up in your head and rational panic that comes from true danger. Both feel real. There is a time and a place for working through fear with persistence and another for getting out of the situation. Wisdom is knowing when to appropriately use each one of these.

Practical Pointers to Handle Fear

Eileen Joseph, philanthropic consultant, states, "We all face challenges. It is what we do with those challenges that make us the people we are."

  • KNOW YOUR VALUES. In these turbulent times, it is extremely important to know thyself. What are your values? What do you stand for? Values define what is meaningful to you. They are an essential element in defining your passion.
  • FACE AND NAME. Become aware of the discouraging forces, such as fear, that burden you. Identify and name them so it's easier for you to overcome. The way to work with obstacles is to admit them, not repress them.
  • CULTIVATE. Develop the opposite quality. Intentionally nurture and build the opposing positive force. What is the opposite of fear? It is love! How can you cultivate more love in your life and in the world?
  • SURROUND. Encircle yourself with supportive and loving people. Work together. Determine a strategy and plan of action.
  • COMMUNICATE. Strengthen your non-violent, compassionate communications skills. See, for example, Do You Really Hear Me?
  • LIMIT. In times where fake news and painful real news propagate, it's best to limit your intake. Yes, you want to be informed so you can take action, but overindulging in social media, broadcast news and cable can drive fear. Do a quick scan of headlines in print media and choose to read further or not.
  • DEFEND YOUR VALUES AND ACT. Once you know what you value, you can protect, guard, and take action to ensure you live true to your highest convictions. Just do it!


Once while kayaking in turbulent whitewater, I found myself upside down in the water and unable to roll. It was more than I could handle and I experienced rational fear as part of an innate survival instinct. After unsuccessfully trying for years to improve my kayaking skills, I finally moved to river rafting so I could more easily work together with supportive and skilled paddlers while still living true to my outdoor adventure values.


As Eleanor Roosevelt advises, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." 

Overcome fear, cultivate love.  Stand strong with your highest convictions.  Know what you stand for.  Take action to defend core values.


Theresa M. Szczurek (;;

copyright 2017, all rights reserved.

Six Steps to Creating the Life Your Want

Assess and Plan

What time is it? Now is the time. If not now, when?

Think back to one year ago. You were on the verge of ending the year. Perhaps you were finishing up loose ends. You were on the cusp of starting a fresh New Year. Was the year all that you dreamed and wished? Why? Why not?

One thing is for sure — the year flew by more quickly than expected. Each month, week, and day had great potential. Did you achieve what you wanted? This New Year has 365 precious days, days that you can choose to live life to the fullest or not.

As we end one year and transition to the new one, here are a few things to do.

Six Steps to Creating the Life Your Want

ASSESS. What were your goals? How did you do in attaining them? Looking back, what would you change / release / purge if you could? Don't over analyze this. Just let it flow. Write it down.
CONNECT. Ask for feedback. What people whom you respect can provide you with valuable insights on your last year? Give them a call. Or if they're not reachable, ask yourself what would that person say to me? Is this what you need to hear?
GO DEEP. Inside each of us are seven chakra centers. Many people believe, including the Native Americans, that there is a symbolic power animal associated with each chakra and it has great wisdom. Get to know your animals through a meditation and invite them to share their wisdom with you. What do they tell you about your last year and about priorities for the New Year?
PREPARE. Gather all the insights from within and outside yourself. Put them in the back of your mind. Sleep on them. Meditate and let them percolate. Pray and ask for guidance. Take notes. Let a new understanding emerge.
ENVISION. See yourself living the New Year and standing at year's end. What does your vision look like? How does it feel to you to fulfill it?
PLAN. When you are ready and with your vision in mind, put together a list of your top 3-5 areas of focus to attain your vision. What do you need to do to bridge the gap from where you are now to where you want to go? Create a written list of the steps in your plan. What is a word or simple phrase that encapsulates its theme?


The time is now to create the life you want. Don't wait. Assess, connect, go deep, prepare, envision, and plan. Then as Lao Tzu says, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." Take that first step.


Theresa Szczurek (,,

all rights reserved.  Copyright 2016 Theresa Szczurek


Be Grateful: Three Tips and a Meditation

This is the season for Gratitude. Be grateful. What are you thankful for?

WHEN THE DAY IS DONE, BE GRATEFUL. Each night before I drift to sleep in my comfy, warm bed, I appreciate having a bed and a home and so much more. Many people in the world today don't have this luxury. I think of my Grandmother, who at the age of 15 left the poverty of rural Poland with her 17-year-old brother to find a land of opportunity in America. She never saw her homeland again or the relatives she left behind, yet she made new friends and built a family here.

I often think of this prayer. It's a chant from an ancient loving kindness meditation.
    May all who are in need find a comforting, safe home.
    May all be well and healthy.
    May all be happy.

WHEN THE NEW DAY BREAKS, BE GRATEFUL. Each morning as you start the day, breathe in energy and appreciate the opportunities. As Henry David Thoreau suggests, "Live deliberately... live deep and suck all the morrow of life." This is the time to reaffirm your passion, align it with a meaningful purpose, pursue it with all your heart and all your soul, and assess progress throughout.

THROUGHOUT THE DAY, BE GRATEFUL. Each moment with each breath brings the occasion to appreciate. Too often we don't stop to notice. Our lives are busy, hectic, and crazed with a seemingly infinite to-do list. There may even be a 'fear of stopping.' What will it take for you to stop and appreciate? Give yourself the challenge to stop. Every time the phone rings, a text comes in, the door bell rings or you eat something, be grateful for this one small thing. Especially appreciate the blessing of friends and co-workers. Tell them often how much you treasure the gift of their camaraderie.

Meditate on Appreciation

Sit comfortably, preferably in a quiet place without too many distractions. If possible, sit with upright posture aligning your head over your heart. Close your eyes, if possible. If not, just look into the distance with a softened, non-focused gaze. Take in a deep breath and exhale slowly, letting out all the tensions and preoccupations of the day. Relax.

Start with yourself, because without appreciating yourself, it is close to impossible to be grateful to others. Hold a picture of yourself in your mind.

See yourself physically expressing gratitude to yourself in whatever way is right for you. Imagine using your 'hands,' or physical being, giving a handshake, hug, smile, standing ovation, or other sign of appreciation.

Then using your 'head,' recite the following affirmation inwardly, "I appreciate all you have and will continue to do in pursuing this passionate purpose. You are making a meaningful difference. You are making progress. You are competent. Thank you for being you." Modify this affirmation until it's right for you.

Then with your 'heart,' send feelings of love, appreciation, and gratitude. Feel yourself being showered with thankfulness. A smile comes to your face, a warm glow sweeps over your body, and waves of good feelings permeate throughout and radiate everywhere.

Now gradually expand the focus of this meditation to others for whom you are appreciative. Hold a picture of one fellow being after another, or a group together. See yourself physically expressing thanks to the person or people. Recite the affirmation. Feel a loving connection.

As you wish, expand the focus to encompass spiritual forces in the Universe.

When the time is right and you want to end the meditation, slowly bring your awareness back to your situation and space.


Suck the morrow of life. Live deliberately. Live passionately. Be grateful. Stop and notice. Meditate and appreciate. Be thankful for the opportunities of the day and the friends that bless the way.

Theresa M. Szczurek (,,  copyright 2015.  All rights reserved.