Passion Makes Perfect

Can we really find and thrive in a calling about which we are passionate? Of course! And there are two primary ways to do it.

We can find a job, start a business or launch a career that:

  1. Centers on an issue we really care about and that allows us to use our core strengths, in which we really enjoy engaging.
  2. Pays us well, allows us to interact with people we enjoy, has a decent commute, etc., yet provides us with enough time and energy to devote time away from it to volunteer or otherwise support the cause closest to our heart.

Both paths have a ton of merit, and one can navigate between the two paths as our career unfolds.

Presenting a proclamation to Gene Baur (also pictured above), President and Co-Founder of Farm Sanctuary.

For example, anyone who knows me even a little is familiar with the fact that animal welfare is one of the top issues I care about deeply. Yet only once have I held a job that was dedicated full-time to the cause, while another role allowed me to promote our local animal shelter as part of my work.

4 animals
Bobby and Dinah Heslin; my HSUS friends and me with an awesome rescue pig; with former feral cat Eva Heslin; and Eva, her kitty sisters and chia sis Abbey Heslin

So while only two of my jobs directly impacted animals, into my life I’ve infused a commitment to helping animals by:

  • Adopting many, many dogs and cats from rescue organizations;
  • Contacting and meeting with local, state and Federal legislators about incredibly impactful legislation;
  • Posting and sharing content oh so frequently online to raise awareness about the needs of specific organizations, animals and a variety of issues;
  • Writing articles, guest columns and letters to the editor about animal welfare issues;
  • Serving as a volunteer State Council member for the Humane Society of the United States;
  • Helping to host visits and public talks by the leaders of two of the nation’s most prominent and effective animal groups, the HSUS and Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm-animal protection agency;
  • Serving on the board of a local animal welfare nonprofit;
  • Donating to more than a dozen local and national animal protection agencies; and
  • Incorporating animal-welfare related organizations, topics and projects I teach into the courses I teach at Indiana University.**
Amazing visit last Fall to Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary in Tennessee.

The point is that when we are clear on what our mission is we can always find a way to fulfill it, whether that be through direct employment or a combination of engagement methods. Either way we win, and so does the employer who allows us to satisfy a good deal of our goals, and so does the cause we care about, who benefits from our quest to help.

Meeting with Senator Todd Young and his team on Capitol Hill to talk Federal animal welfare legislation.

What’s YOUR version of my animal welfare passion? What is YOUR why? What issues do you find yourself reading about, posting about, talking about or thinking about most? What problems or challenges do you most ache to solve? What type of volunteer work could you add to your life to help you fulfill these callings and even help you increase your own joy and satisfaction?

If you’re not sure yet what your passion is, or if you have a few that peak your interest, I encourage you to learn more about them and see how your skills can be of most use to helping these causes further their goals and missions. And of course there’s no harm in keeping one eye open to opportunities that may come along to shift your career path and work directly for one of these passions …



The bright, compassionate students of my Indiana University Citizenship & Careers class.

** One of the three courses I teach at Indiana University is called Citizenship & Careers. As you can see, it’s designed to be a small class, and it ranges from freshmen to seniors who share a common interest in political and civic engagement. For their final public policy project, students researched multiple aspects of the upcoming Federal Farm Bill and its proposed Amendments, examining potential impacts on human health, animals and the environment. If you’re interested, you can learn more about some of the key issues specific to animals here.

The late great Sadie Heslin, who inspired so many of my animal-related efforts.


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