Dr. Nicholas Pearce’s Purpose Path

Pastor, professor, consultant and author Dr. Nicholas Pearce. Photo by Chuck Olu-Alabi.

Dr. Nicholas Pearce is a scholar, speaker, entrepreneur, pastor and award-winning professor of management and organizations at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

An internationally recognized proponent of values-driven leadership and organizational transformation, Dr. Pearce is a trusted adviser, executive coach, and sought-after speaker for corporations, social impact organizations, communities of faith, and governments around the world.

His thought leadership has been featured in a number of national and global media outlets, including The Atlantic, Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report, amongst others.

The Chicago native has also recently added the title of “author” to his resume with the upcoming release of his book The Purpose Path: A Guide to Pursuing Your Authentic Life’s Work (St. Martin’s Press).

N’DIGO recently sat down with Dr. Pearce to learn more about his new book and his approach to balancing it all with so many things on his plate.

N’DIGO: In your own words, tell us who is Dr. Nicholas Pearce.
Nicholas Pearce: I’m a Christ-following husband, father, son, and friend who has the unique privilege of serving God’s people at a great church, teaching at a great business school, and advising leaders in great institutions around the world each day.

Pearce as pastor.

As a kid, what did you imagine you’d be when you grew up?
As a kid, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to be when I grew up – I just tried to do the best I could in school. I always knew that pastoral ministry would be a major part of my life’s work, but I really thought of it as more of a calling than a career path.

I didn’t have any concept of being a professor until I was about 21, and even then I wasn’t sure. I definitely didn’t have any idea that I’d start a consulting firm until I was in my mid-20s.

What was your inspiration for your new book, The Purpose Path?
The inspiration for The Purpose Path came from conversations with my students, clients, and people from all walks of life that I’ve had the chance to meet, along with deep reflection on my own life journey.

I encountered many people who felt trapped in their own lives – people who felt like they were living someone else’s dreams and were stuck in the rut of pursuing someone else’s definition of success. I wanted to provide some hope, encouragement, and food for thought as people consider coming off of autopilot to discover and engage their authentic life’s work.

Pearce as business management consultant.

Tell us a little more about the book and what can readers expect when they pick it up?
The Purpose Path is a pragmatic, one-of-its-kind guidebook designed to assist people who are asking one of life’s biggest questions: what is my purpose for being on the planet? In The Purpose Path, readers can expect deep questions to challenge them, inspiring anecdotes to encourage them, and practical advice to guide them in the process of aligning their daily work with their life’s work.

What does it mean to “connect your soul with your role”?
So many of us are living divided lives where our best and highest values have nothing to do with the work we do each day – in other words, we’re living inauthentic lives. I believe that if we’re going to spend the majority of our lives in our workplaces that we owe it to ourselves to let our best and highest values inform and influence what we do every day. Connecting soul and role is about giving yourself and the world the gift of having your authentic life’s work be expressed through your daily work.

Please tell us about The Vocati Group and what it is that they do.
The Vocati Group is the company that I founded almost a decade ago to consult with leaders of corporations, nonprofits, churches, and governments. Leaders call us when they are looking for executive coaching and development, leadership training, strategic planning, and advising on organizational transformation.

Some of the most common topics we deal with are diversity and inclusion, building high-performing teams, organizational culture, leading organizational change, succession planning, and high-stakes negotiations. We’ve worked with Fortune 100 corporations, startups, major religious denominations, and local and national government agencies, as well as leading nonprofits on six continents.

Pearce as professor.

You’re a father, husband, business owner, pastor, author and more. How do you find balance with so much constantly on your plate?
The idea of work-life balance is a bit of a myth to me. It suggests that on the one hand, you have your life, and on the other hand, you have your work. Instead, I am an advocate of whole-life integration: we all have 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week, so our challenge is to integrate all of the parts of our lives that matter most in a way that’s authentic to us: family, faith, work and professional impact, civic and community impact, and self-care. For me, I just go one day at a time by God’s grace, but I never want my family to feel like they have to compete with my work for my affection.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a classically trained pianist.

Can you name one book that changed or really impacted your life?
Aside from the Bible, one book that has really impacted my life is Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. I received this book as an undergraduate and it was the first time I was challenged to think about questions of purpose as they related to one’s daily work. Thankfully, Parker has been kind enough to write the foreword to my book, The Purpose Path.

Pearce is also a classically trained pianist.Photo by Chuck Olu-Alabi.

Best advice to those looking to pursue their authentic life’s work?
You don’t have to have everything figured out – you just have to commit to the journey, wherever it may lead. There will never be a convenient time to make the tough decisions required to align your daily work with your life’s work, so now is probably the best time to start.

Favorite quote or affirmation?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

What’s next for Dr. Nicholas Pearce?
I’m going one day at a time by God’s grace. God doesn’t always show me the whole picture; I just get enough direction to be faithful one step at a time. If I can be faithful with today, I believe tomorrow’s successes will come.

(The Purpose Path: A Guide to Pursuing Your Authentic Life’s Work is available as of April 9th. For more information on Dr. Pearce, visit: www.nicholaspearce.org. Find him on social media: @napphd)

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