I recently wrote about Murray Bowen’s Family Systems Theory, and while reflecting on his professional achievements I began to marvel at the underlying story his work told. I find that Bowen’s motivations for his personal and professional goals intertwined and, as a result, propelled him toward success. I assert that his professional interest in helping families came from his personal observations of his own family of origin.
To me, Bowen epitomizes his own theory. One of Bowen’s foundational thoughts was that individuals must acknowledge generational patterns and make necessary changes accordingly, in an effort to extinguish the transmission of foul patterns to present and future generations. In true form, Bowen’s motivation was derived from his own family of origin issues, which provided him the determination to examine and rectify those issues. In doing so he provided other families, outside of his own, the tools to do the same (in part due to his ability to construct and record the relevant information). Though some have offered the opinion that portions of Bowen’s work are convoluted, his research and theory paved the way for academicians since their derivation.
I think of Bowen as a person whose passion for his work is reflected in his success. To me his work speaks for itself, but it is in the light of his recipe for success that I believe he is a beacon for therapists. Those associated with the helping professions (therapists and academicians alike) should be individuals who have a passion for their work.
In my opinion, passion associated with a therapist consists of several attributes, to include enthusiasm and excitement. However, therapists with too much passion (better stated as an inappropriate level of passion) for their work may be pushed to make unethical decisions such as diagnosing for the purpose of treatment (concerning health insurance), creating unhealthy client/clinician relationships, or pressing for progression with clients while disregarding the nuances of the process of their particular approach. Likewise, an academician or researcher may be able to use the extremes of passion to their advantage if the energy is properly harnessed. But there is often a fine line between working hard at discovery and proving one’s own worth…between fertilizing a mind and molding it. The progression of the field through theory and research often requires a person to cut against the grain or take a seemingly blind leap. For these professionals, a heightened sense of passion can prove essential.
While this article is directed towards helping professionals, the points extend to any individual who may be on the journey of self-discovery. We all from time to time ask ourselves, “Who am I?” We all wonder about our own level of success and seek to discover purpose.
So I ask you to examine whether you have taken something personal and made it a profession, or simply allowed your profession to overshadow your person? Are you determined, motivated, enthusiastic and excited about what you do? Whether you are a Baby Boomer or a Millennial, despite the vast age difference, you are likely looking for significance. You should look inside and outside. You should look at the past and the future. You may start by asking yourself what you have to offer and compare that with what the world around you needs. Align your passion with your purpose and find the fulfillment you are searching for.