Live What You Love | Book Review

"Living a purposeful life is about energy. And there's nowhere
better to start than your physical well-being." (p. 350)

Naomi Simson's personal journey & well-referenced book models passion-based or next-generation leadership. Her story offers sharp contrast with a typical, low-energy lifestyle and informs how we may discover what we want to do most leading to a more fulfilling life. This review ties Simson's 4 P's (Passion, Persistence, Positivity and Purpose) to a recommended leadership path.


Identifying personal dreams and goals (both our own and others) is a central part of the Leadership Excellence Course Goal Setting workshop. Simson tells us it might take some exploration to discover (p. 8) our inner spirit. If we're overbooked, or repeatedly chasing shiny things, this won't happen. Simson realized when everything was urgent (pp. 9-10), nothing is important and she missed connecting with her children as a result. Ouch.

We know what it looks like, afterward, when someone has aligned purpose with joy. Simson asks why are entrepreneurs so revered. It's not magic, and it's not just risk taking, it's about becoming real:

"If you're not being real, you're not going to attract the kinds
of people around you who will support your passion."
(p. 34).

One of the key ways to build an organization Simson cites is identifying shared values (p. 35), similar to our focus in Core Values Alignment workshops. This approach allowed her to target five ways (p. 63) to well-being (from the New Economics Foundation):

1. Connect to the people around you -- be present.
2. Be active -- go for a walk, play a game.
3. Take notice -- be curious about what goes on around you.
4. Keep learning -- try something new.
5. Give -- do something nice for a friend or a stranger.

Simson points out Raj Sisodia, who advises "Make people your primary purpose" (p. 88), leading to happier employees, who are (via Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage):

• 31 per cent more productive.
• 40 per cent more likely to receive a promotion.
• less absent, with 23 per cent fewer fatigue symptoms.
• up to ten per cent more engaged at work.
• able to sell more -- happy sales people produce 37 per cent greater sales.

Simson hints at her own Personal Leadership Philosophy by asking "Do you know what you stand for? (p. 109). When we do articulate that, it allows for a consistency between both the team and the leaders, in turn, creating trust for the brand (p. 111).


"Resilience and persistence are the game changers. They give you the strength to live a powerful life instead of playing small and being plagued by insecurities" (p. 145).

Over time, those we coach and develop will tell others more about us than any other factor. Simson agrees: Being a leader is not about yourself or your profile -- it's about the legacy that you create (p. 135). She wasn't (me neither) always like this (p. 122): "I had always been pushy -- often at the expense of not knowing the impact it was having on the people around."

Guess what? When we are focused on helping others grow, we'll likewise want to improve ourselves. Like Anders Ericsson's definition of deliberate practice, Simson describes Luciano Pavarotti's approach (p. 175) to singing: "I concentrated on doing better than I had the day before and stopped worrying."

Most of us have hang ups we must overcome before living this way. Simson lists Five Famous Fears (p. 178):

• Humiliation
• Separation
• Poverty
• Unknown
• Missing out

Both the entrepreneur and leader feel these insecurities, but move ahead anyway. Or as Simson mentions, whatever you practice is what you become good at (p. 186).


Simson courageously admits her prior self-centered focus (p. 203): "In my earlier years as a business leader what I lacked was the ability to include others." Now she looks to Jeff Haden's list of what makes a great boss (p. 207):

1. They believe in the unbelievable
2. They see opportunity in instability and uncertainty
3. They wear their emotions on their sleeves
4. They protect others from the bus
5. They've been there, done that ... and still do that
6. They lead by permission, not authority
7. They embrace a larger purpose
8. They take real, not fake risks

At its core, Simson finds that leadership is about positivity, authenticity and connection (p. 232). What kind of environment do we create when leading this way? Let's look at ten traits positive people have in common (pp. 254-257):

• They feel great
• They live longer
• They are healthier
• They keep going
• They are in relationships
• They have deeper conversations
• They look for good
• They spread positivity
• They are productive
• They are lucky

Compare a work (and life) environment with these attributes vs. the typical disengaged organization. This is the result when we align work with passion.


Simson references Oprah Winfrey, perhaps channeling Maslow (p. 298): "The key to realising a dream is to focus not on success but on significance." The following Venn diagram shows the intersection we should seek:

As with Simson, it may take some time to intersect all four areas. But when we do:

"Living your purpose will mean you experience life at a whole new level. You will thrive, flourish or excel. Your context will change and so will your view of the world." (p. 297)

Keep in mind, it is never the business which creates the purpose (p. 313).


In her book (p. 330) The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brené Brown describes belonging as, 'the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us.' First, establish the purpose; Second, start the business; and third (p. 331): "It is important to hire people who are aligned with the company's purpose."


Simson's journey to leadership started with a sense of purpose (p. 364). So can yours. She invites us to contact her via her blog

Note: Naomi Simson generously provided a copy of her book for review.

JE | October 2017