CIOs Leading with I3P: Inspiring Passion,Power,and Purpose

CIOs Leading with I3P: Inspiring  Passion, Power, and Purpose


I had a wonderful professor in college, Dr. Frank M. Snowden. He was my Latin professor. He certainly was a memorable person, but two particular things stuck with me. 


We were translating Virgil’s Aeneid.  Ok, so when I took the book out of the library, which was somewhere in 1978, I noticed the last time it was checked out was in 1946.  So, I suppose there aren’t too many fans of dactylic hexameter, but I digress.


The Latin epic poem was a story of contrasts.  Of particular interest to me was the  pietas of Aeneas and the furor of Dido. Some words don’t exactly translate well into English.  So at the time, this young coed interpreted this respectively as mindless duty and frenzied passion.  Not quite, Dr. Snowden said.  I’m thinking whatever, magister.  So, he told the story of another one of his female students who said, if she were Dido, she would have killed Aeneas dead!  He worked himself into hysterics laughing … and told this same story every semester, by the way.  I didn’t get it; never got it in fact.  The chick was burning on a funeral pyre for crying out loud; I just hoped I never had that much passion.


So, my next life moment with him occurred not too long after the Dido incident. At the time, I was a pre-med major and not particularly loving my academic life.  He told me the secret of success, that if I studied what I was passionate about and loved, I would be successful.   I left his classroom and changed my major to Mathematics and declared my minor in Latin.  An action that led this dreamy mathematician to be an entry level GS-7 civil servant at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.


Though I never forgot those two incidents, they have been sticking in my mind a lot lately.   What’s dancing in my big CIO head a lot these days is this notion of passion, and how it intensifies power, and inspires purpose.  Leadership guru John C. Maxwell writes,


“People are instructed by reason, but are inspired by passion.”


He goes on to say that passion is the first step to achievement, the foundation for excellence, and the key to success.  Right now, in this CIO leadership moment, I find myself searching to find ways to inspire an IT workforce to do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do.  And that inspiration won’t come from the mindless duty of compliance, but from the frenzied passion that burns inside of them. 


My assistant Charlene asked me last week, where does my passion come from? I couldn’t really answer her.  Maxwell doesn’t either, but he gets close when he says find those people who ignite the fire of passion or keep it going … and thank them. 


It happened that I was on a panel for Black History Month last year at Goddard Space Flight Center.  I was asked to discuss the events that brought me to NASA.  I thought about my story of Dr. Snowden.  I should have thanked him.  He died that week.


I bet you think this blog is about you. Don’t you? Don’t you? Well, if it is, this burning CIO thanks you.


Linda Cureton, CIO NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

5 thoughts on “CIOs Leading with I3P: Inspiring Passion,Power,and Purpose”

  1. Another place and another time, perhaps a parallel place … as Aeneas, our superhero of epic proportion, while his storm-tossed ship rolls across the thundarous waves, ponders his purpose, he imagines another place and another time perhaps … where he inspires the burning passion of Dido, queen of Carthage. He inspires her passion to lead Carthage and becomes a super heroine, at least in literature.

  2. Deep Breath………The first time I read this post I didn’t get the meaning. But after revisiting what was written, I realize what powerful thought was put into the message. Envolking emotions I haven’t felt in a very long time. This is the type of Soul sharing that doesn’t come freely. It takes courage to open one’s Heart in such a manner. It is in great appreciation to have the privilege to correspond in this form of communications.(R.T.)

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