Life Is Not A Straight Shot


One of my favorite books is Po Bronson’s “What Should I Do With My Life?” In his book, Po set out to discover if there was a formula to finding one’s passion. After interviewing hundreds of people who had found their passions, he came to the conclusion there was no formula. Too bad, wouldn’t it have made our lives so much easier? But, his research did reveal that there was a common denominator among these people. They all had said they reached their goal through a circuitous route of twists and turns in their lives and careers that was necessary to find their passion for a particular field.

I was reminded of this when I got an invitation from the USC Schwarzenegger Institute inviting me to the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signing the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which established greenhouse gas emissions targets for the state.

I served on the personal staff of Governor Schwarzenegger for six years and the passing of this legislation was one of the highlights of my career. When I graduated from Penn State with a major in Environmental Relations, my desire to help save the planet was put on the back burner when I landed a job as a newspaper reporter. From there I went into public relations, public affairs and dallied in non-profits, doing work that made a difference and touched many people, but not connecting me to the environment. I figured it wasn’t in the cosmic equation, though I never lost the desire to preserve this beautiful planet. Then through a series of events, I was given the opportunity to work for a Hollywood mega-star, who had just been elected governor of California. Little did I know that I had accepted a position with someone who would emerge as a world leader in addressing Climate Change and saving the environment. The Governor not only signed historic environmental regulations, he held symposiums, bringing together experts from all over the world to formulate solutions to our environmental issues.

Newly elected President Obama spoke at the first forum via satellite and some people cried. Guests that I had invited told me it was life-changing.  Governor Schwarzenegger went on to promote solar energy, a clean ocean act,  established a preserve to protect 25 million acres of pristine land, and more. Passing AB 32 legislation was an uphill battle. I, along with others, worked day and night, fighting off fossil fuel proponents, who wanted to kill it and critics, who said it would severely hurt the economy.  At one point it occurred to me that the Governor, who in the movies had fought to save the world, was now in real life fighting to save the planet and I was part of this action-filled reality show. It was a remarkable experience.

As it turned out, the doomsayers were wrong. Over a half million green energy jobs have been created since the passage of AB32 and California’s GDP growth rate has been double that of Texas and the U.S.

Some people will say I was lucky. I don’t believe in luck anymore. It’s not a gift from the gods, it’s a state of mind. Experts say only 10% of life is random.

In future blogs I will explore one’s ability of tuning in to that other 90% to attain your goals.   Stay-tuned.

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Karen Kukurin

Public Speaker, Writer and Professional Advocate. Former Deputy Director for the Office of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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