6 lessons from my life as a Passion Catalyst


Thirteen years ago today, I had my first taste of what it feels like to do work that is truly, authentically in alignment with who you are. It changed my life. On May 15, 2001, I did my very first Passion Catalyst session.

Prior to that, I had been what I frequently describe as a professional malcontent, treading water in a career that didn’t fit, feeling like maybe I just needed to chuck it all and go to art school.

I was frustrated, bored, and unhappy. But I had no idea what to do about it.

Lesson #1: Sometimes the best change comes out of complete suckitude

Fortunately (though it definitely didn’t feel like it at the time), the universe came along and booted me out of the nest with a 2×4 upside the head. As a marketing consultant at the time focused on technology companies, my services were first in line to get cut when the dot com bubble burst. I was effectively self-unemployed, with no safety net.

As I plummeted in a professional freefall, I met with senior marketing exec after senior marketing exec, trying to drum up new business. No dice.

What did happen sent me on a whole new path. A networking conversation over coffee turned into a conversation about a business the person wanted to start based on a hobby he was passionate about (flying). By the end of the conversation he was vibrating with excitement, filled with new ideas, and perspectives, and possibilities he hadn’t seen before.

Lesson #2: Listen to the natural possibilities

As I thought about it later that day I thought, “What is that? Because that happens all the time. I have conversations with people, and they come away feeling like that.

It seemed like it had value, so I thought there might be a way to generate income with it. And since I was in freefall in my old career, I had nothing whatsoever holding me back.

I talked about it and talked about it and talked about it. I realized it probably needed to have some kind of ongoing component because if people were anything like me, they would get momentarily inspired and then the energy would seep away, leaving them at the exact same place.

Lesson #3: When you get good advice, listen.

Eventually I realized that what I was really exploring was coaching. Over lunch with a woman who had a coaching practice, I got one of the most valuable bits of advice I’ve had – valuable because it set me on the right trajectory from the beginning. She said, “You know you don’t get to tell people what to do, right?”

I was a bit crestfallen at that, to be honest. I liked telling people what to do. I had good ideas, dammit! I was coming from my old consulting paradigm (not to mention my ego) and didn’t really want to let it go.

That conversation laid the foundation for my deep belief that each of us is the best expert in what’s best for us. My role is not to tell anyone what to do, but to help them discover their own self-expertise.

Lesson #4: Enough talking already. Do it!

After talking about it for a couple months I realized that I can – and often do – talk a good idea to death. I needed to take action. I proposed a five-session “guinea pig” package with one of the people I had connected with in my networking who was at a career crossroads. I proposed a nominal fee, primarily as a way to start convincing myself that I really could charge for this thing I had always done naturally.

On May 15th we met at the Zeitgeist coffee shop in downtown Seattle, and I took the plunge.

Lesson #5: A career that fits makes all the difference in the world

We talked for an hour in that first session and, as I sat there after we wrapped up, I thought, “I don’t need a guinea pig! This is who I am! This is what I have done naturally for as long as I can remember.”

It was such a fluid, natural feeling. I had never felt anything like it in my career before. Suddenly, I knew what I had been missing.

The difference between that and my professional malcontent days was night and day. Back in my days of employment, I hated the question, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” I thought some people had vision, and some people didn’t. And I, unfortunately, fell squarely in the no-vision camp.

A year or so into my Passion Catalyst work, I realized that not only did I have a five-year plan, but it had come about because my brain couldn’t stop exploring the possibilities.

It felt like someone who had long been trapped below the surface was finally free to fly.

Lesson #6: It’s not all sunshine and roses (but a lot of it is)

I don’t want to give the impression that everything worked out magically once I made the decision to create a career that fit. I’ve felt some serious bumps and bruises along the way. I have crashed and burned. I have questioned my ability to make it happen (though never the innate abilities that started me down the path to begin with).

I have felt stuck, and stale. I have felt like the trail I was barreling down had suddenly veered off to the side, and I was hacking through the overgrowth trying to find my way back to it.

AND, I have been blessed to experience what it’s like to be doing something that I feel tailor made for. I have been blessed to feel the energy that comes from being able to fully and authentically show up. I have been blessed and inspired to see life after life change as the result of the work people have done with me.

I have often been blessed to learn as much from my clients sessions as they do. I have been blessed with a platform to develop ideas that can change the world and then put them out there for people to pick up and use. I have been blessed by the opportunity to laugh and have fun every day.

It has been a wild ride. And one worth taking.

As I look toward the future, I see the next decade (and probably the rest of my life) focused on helping people create energized, impactful, heart-based lives.

I feel excited and honored to have you along for the ride. Thanks for joining me as we explore where that future will lead.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]


Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM Time for a career change? Start with The Occupational Adventure Guide


  • Love this post, Curt! You have showed us what happens when you trust and follow your heart.

  • Thanks Terrence!

    It’s a great feeling to know that the path I take, the joys I experience, the struggles I encounter and the resulting growth are all fodder for other people to step more fully into their own lives. (That’s one of the reason I try to be fairly transparent about the full range of the experience, not just focus on the successes and things that make me look good.)