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Be a Pioneer of Your Purpose

Marie Curie is considered a pioneer in the field of science. She discovered the atomic elements radium and polonium. Her work with these elements, alongside her husband Pierre, led to the invention of X-rays. Overall, Marie Curie’s work earned her two Nobel Prizes: one in physics and one in chemistry.

Marie had to overcome several obstacles to reach the achievements she is known for today. Born in Poland, she was not allowed to attend the University of Warsaw because the school only accepted male students. She made the decision to attend the University of Sorbonne in France. Except, she had to work as a tutor and governess for five years so her sister could go to school first before going to college herself. At the university, she studied voraciously but suffered physically. Her lack of money led to her meager diet of bread and tea which barely sustained her.

After graduating with a master’s degree in physics, Marie married Pierre Curie, a man who shared equal enthusiasm about science. But after just 11 years of marriage, and in the midst of their great scientific work together, Pierre was killed when he stepped in front of a horse-drawn carriage. Marie Curie’s health suffered throughout her life until her death from aplastic anemia She couldn’t escape the effects of her constant exposure to radiation.

Comparison is a Thief

Marie Curie was a pioneer. Not only for her discoveries in science but because she was the first woman to accomplish many things. She was the first female professor at the University of Sorbonne. Her first Nobel Prize was the first one awarded to a woman and she was the first person, of any gender, to win a second Nobel Prize.

But you aren’t Marie Curie…and neither am I.

Theodore Roosevelt said that comparison is the thief of joy. One of the greatest impulses we fight every day is to compare ourselves to others. Sometimes we play the comparison game to pump ourselves up and feel better by looking down on others. And sometimes we look at someone with great accomplishments to shame ourselves for our lack of production.

However, the objective of looking at leaders from the past, or our contemporary peers, is not to copy what they did or do. It is to extract lessons from their lives and find inspiration to discover the gifts and abilities inside ourselves. Our gifts and abilities are the elements we can use to live our purpose.

Pioneers are Curious

Maybe finding new atomic elements is not our gift. Perhaps we are not motivated to win a Nobel Prize. While we may not be able to be a pioneer in exactly the same way Marie Curie was, we can use her example to help us be a pioneer of our own purpose.

We each have a unique purpose that no one else on this planet, now or throughout time, can fulfill. Remember, a pioneer goes into an unknown place. They go without full assurance of what they will find. But they are curious…and they are on a journey to discover.

So maybe we are troubled that we don’t know exactly what our purpose is and what gifts and abilities we possess. That’s okay. When we are a pioneer of our purpose, we know we may not have all the answers, but we are willing to explore so we can discover new places we have never been before. We need to constantly search for the work we were created to do, the people we are given to love, and the obstacles we need to rise above and overcome.

Marie Curie said, “You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”

We Must Give Our Purpose Away

For Marie Curie, it started with a passion and an interest in science which formed during her childhood. Her parents were both teachers and she was always curious to learn. It continued with her drive to improve herself so she could contribute to humanity. But being a pioneer of our purpose also requires us to be humble. Because it requires us to surrender our need to compare ourselves to others. We don’t need to compare ourselves to others to make ourselves feel better or to make ourselves feel worse. Humility is also necessary to acknowledge we don’t always have the answers. We may be working toward the purpose we believe we have been given. Yet, there may also be something out there that can push us even farther…and to a greater potential.

One aspect of seeking peace and fulfillment is understanding we can be a pioneer of our own purpose. We become consumed by the desire to live the purpose we were created for and give away our gifts and abilities to the people in our lives.

Peace comes from being willing to step into the unknown so we can discover and live our purpose. Fulfillment comes from giving that purpose away to others.

And when we give our purpose away, we make an impact on the students we work with every day.

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Jon Barth

Jon Barth

Teacher - Coach - Mentor

I love to share stories, tools, and resources to help students become leaders who make a difference in the world by giving away their gifts and abilities.

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