Ask Yourself What Makes You Come Alive, and Go Do That, Because What the World Needs Is People Who Have Come Alive

Howard Thurman? Gil Bailie? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: If you are an altruistic or philanthropic person you face many choices. It is natural to ask, “What does the world need?” Yet, it is essential to maintain commitment and enthusiasm. Hence, you should ask yourself what makes you come alive. This will help you decide what to do. The world needs people who have come alive.

Apparently, the renowned religious figure Howard Thurman said something like this. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1995 teacher Gil Bailie published “Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads”. Bailie stated that he heard the quotation under examination from Howard Thurman. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Once, when I was seeking the advice of Howard Thurman and talking to him at some length about what needed to be done in the world, he interrupted me and said: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The text above appeared in a section titled “In Gratitude” dated August 1994. Bailie indicated that he heard the remark from Thurman twenty years in the past, i.e., around 1974. Howard Thurman died in 1981.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Ask Yourself What Makes You Come Alive, and Go Do That, Because What the World Needs Is People Who Have Come Alive

Notes:

  1. 1997 (1995 Copyright), Violence Unveiled: Humanity at the Crossroads by Gil Bailie, Section: In Gratitude by Gil Bailie, Date on Section: August 1994, Start Page xv, Quote Page xv, A Crossroad Book: The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York. (Verified with scans)