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Kate Lumpkin

“It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It’s also a very clear path to happiness.” - Sheryl Sandberg

Successful leaders exude authentic passion. They choose to lead the work they do because they simply cannot imagine doing anything else. Their purpose, and the “why” they do it, are clear and aligned. Their compelling passion is what gets them up in the morning, what motivates meaning for their vision, and what stimulates their courage to inspire others to support their goals. Passion ignites leaders’ thinking, emotions, and actions -- causing challenging roadblocks to somehow seem easier, and inspiring perseverance in the face of adversity.

As cliché as it sounds, I truly believe one person, with undying passion, can change our world. Yet I also believe personal passions can cycle and morph over time. Passions can even “recycle” when the time is right. And, sometimes, it can be a brand new passion, when one least expects it, that changes your life.

I am confident it is always the right time (read: “never too early or too late”) to act with passion in a way that improves lives and conditions.

16-year-old Nicole Ticea, from Vancouver Canada, won US$50,000 (and second place) in the Medicine and Health division of the Intel International Science Fair for creating a simple and inexpensive HIV test that can be used by people in low-income communities. Her test appears to detect the virus in babies under 18 months old, as well as adults who've been infected for as little as three months. The disposable device doesn't require electricity, provides results in less than an hour, and should cost less than $5 to produce - just imagine how many millions of lives it might save.

Ticea said, “Scientific research involves dedication, determination, long hours and a deep-rooted love for the field that makes sacrifices worthwhile.” Passion, not age, changes our world.

31-year-old Serena Williams just won her 6th Wimbledon singles title and is the oldest number one women’s tennis player ever. She has accomplished every definable success in tennis. She could quit anytime she wanted, stepping down as arguably the greatest woman tennis player of all time. She has money, and she has created an enduring legacy. But her passion keeps her going. For her, tennis is not just a job. Instead, through her passion for tennis, she inspires young women everywhere to be all that they can be.

I know about passion cycling, and about persistence to hold on to the passionate pieces of your professional self. I am passionate about leadership. Most importantly, I am passionate about developing future leaders to positively change our world. I strategically focused on that passion while working at Bristol Myers and at FDA. And I have continuously served as a leadership mentor to new professionals.

For the past 21 years, though, I have primarily focused on the regulation of prescription drugs. I will continue to do so and am passionate about that work. However, I am thrilled to increase my commitment to leadership development and act again on that original passion in a more focused way. For me, the time is now.

What is your passion? Are you acting consistently with that passion? If you are, congratulations! If not, it is NEVER too late! Choose today to act on that passion, and with great passion. You just might change our world.