T is for Following Your Tradition


What is your tradition? Who have been the people that you have admired? Whose path do you want to follow in your way?

People who recognise their tradition feel they are part of something greater than themselves. Others have taken this route before and many will follow it in the future. People who find their tradition often feel humbler yet stronger.

Let’s explore how you can follow these steps in your own way.

Finding your tradition

Start by writing the names of the people you admire whose path you would like to follow in your own way. For example, my own models have been people such as Abraham Maslow, Virginia Satir and Viktor Frankl.

Why? They each wrote books that gave a positive view of people’s possibilities. Whilst not having the same talent as these people, I want to build on their work in my own way.

What is your tradition? If you are caring for people in a hospice, you may be following the path taken by Dame Cicely Saunders, Sheila Cassidy and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

If you are doing pioneering work on the web, you may be following the path taken by Tim Berners-Lee. Alternatively, you may be pursuing a path taken by other people.

Looking at the people you admire, what do you believe they did well? What were the principles they followed? How did they translate these into things you admire?

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe some of the people you admire – past or present – whose path you would like to follow in your own way.

Describe what you think they did right – the principles they followed – to do things you admire.

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Following your tradition

How can you follow this path in your own way? How can you add to the tradition? How can you use your strengths to perform superb work?

Bernard Haldane and Richard Bolles, for example, helped many people to shape their future careers. They pioneered a path that has been followed by many others who help people to follow their vocation.

Bernard’s work from the 1940s onwards enabled many people to build on their strengths and do satisfying work. Richard reached millions of people with his famous book What Colour Is Your Parachute. Here is a video in which Richard talks about Parachute.

Barrie Hopson and Mike Scally did similar work in the UK and published their book Build Your Own Rainbow. Today there are many people who dedicate themselves to helping people do fulfilling work.

Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper, for example, founded Amazing If  to help people who weren’t quite satisfied with where they were in their career but didn’t know what to do about it.

Marianne Cantwell started Free Range Humans to help people do work they love. You can discover more about Sarah, Helen and Marianne via the following links.



If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. Describe the specific things you can do to follow your tradition in your own way.

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Fulfilling your part
of your tradition

What do you see as your part in contributing to your tradition?

Everybody is born to finish something. They may have a book to write, a house to build, an invention to create, a relationship to fulfil or whatever.

At the same time, however, it is important to enjoy the journey as much as reaching the goal. Providing you are pursuing your chosen road, you are keeping the tradition alive.

Seeing a finished product is satisfying – be it a painting, a project or a graduating class saying ‘thank you’. Time catches up with all of us, however, which means we cannot complete everything.

The key is to follow your philosophy and try to make your best contribution each day. You will then honour the past and keep the road open for others to follow in the future.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do to fulfil your part of your tradition.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for you and for other people.

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