Mar. 4, 2011

Do I Have a Passion? Do You?

ImageLast night, I had the chance to talk on the phone with my good friend Angela Maiers. She admitted to me that she was completely exhausted, but I would have never guessed it. As always, she was a bundle of energy as she told me about all of the fantastic opportunities she’s recently been a part of and has on the horizon. It’s always great talking to Angela because you can feel the passion oozing out from every one of her pores. In fact, passion is her passion. She speaks about it, writes about it and lives it every day. A few months ago, she asked me to consider writing a blog post about passion, post it and connect it with others’ #passiondriven posts on Twitter. I never forgot about the request. I’ve just been having a great deal of trouble trying to figure out what my passion is.

I don’t know if I have one.

Maybe my thinking about passion is too grandiose. Does having passion about something mean that it keeps me up at night and drives my decision making? Does having passion mean that I rather be doing this one thing than anything else in the world? Does it mean that I tell people about this passion until they are tired of listening to me?

I just don’t know.

ImageI often hear educators (myself included) say how great it would be to let kids follow their passions. So, I’ve been thinking about my son. He’s in 6th grade right now, and I don’t think he has a passion. Sure, he could play video games all day if I let him. I hope that’s not passion. He’s been playing soccer since he was about four, but I rarely see him go out in the yard and really work on his game outside of a structured team practice. He likes soccer, but I would think he would work on it on his own if he was passionate about it.

So, I pulled out the dictionary (really I went to an online one) and found this definition for passion: a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept

Wikipedia also adds to this by saying that the term passion is,“…often applied to a lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity or love – to a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion, a positive affinity or love, towards a subject, idea, person, or object.

Looking at this, I might have something to work with.

  • I really love my family and always make time for them. I would say I try to work my schedule around theirs to make the best use of my time while being involved in everything they do.
  • I have a devotion to the field of education. I take great pride in working with teachers and students. Helping them navigate the rapidly changing world around them is great fun for me.
  • Lately, I’ve had a great deal of enthusiasm about taking better care of myself. I’m exercising more and I’m eating better. I would say that overall I feel much better on the inside.
  • I really have fun playing tennis with friends. I’m not the greatest at it, but it’s a good release for me.

Are these my passions? These don’t keep me up at night.

I’ve tried several times to pick up new hobbies. Some of them stick, and others don’t. About eight or nine years ago I was on a big kick about building things. That lasted me through building one piece of furniture. I loved researching how to do it, I had a great time playing with new tools and I was very proud of the finished product. However, dealing with the mess and clutter of it all kind of turned off the neat freak in me, and those tools are gathering dust. I could give many other examples of random attempts like this.

Maybe my passion is trying out new things? Nah. That can’t be it.

Well, maybe it is.

Image

Angela wrote a post a few days ago about Seth Godin’s Domino Project and the book Poke the Box. I haven’t read the book yet, but I see a few headlines in these posts that I kind of like.

  • What would our world look like if more people started projects, made a ruckus and took risks?
  • All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous, unpremeditated act without benefit of experience.

Seth even says about his project that, “We’ve never done this before, and though we certainly might fail, we’ll definitely create impact.”

That’s really a lot of pressure to take off one’s back. Basically, he’s saying to go out and live, take risks and see what happens. You know, have fun with things.

Dan Pink seems to say the same in a recent blog post. He talks about how when someone asks him about his passion, “[His] innards tighten. [His] vocabulary becomes a palette of ahhs and ums. [His] chest wells with the urge to flee.”

Instead of passion, he thinks the real question is, “What do you do?”

You know, when the work’s all done and your time is yours, where do you go, and what activities do you do? What would you go out there and do for free?

That takes even more pressure off of me.

So, I know this post has been unbelievingly long already, and maybe nobody will make it this far, so I’ll close things out. I still don’t know if I have a passion, but what I do know is that I don’t want to sit still and let life pass me by.

I want to be active in the world.
I want to try things out and always keep learning.
I want to be open to risk or loss.

I think if I can put all of these things together while being good to myself, my family, my friends and the world around me, I’ll do alright.

That’s something I can be passionate about.

6 Responses to “Do I Have a Passion? Do You?”

  • Brian Mull

    Thanks. I appreciate the feedback on that. Glad I’m not the only one dealing with the struggle. Just to be clear though, and so that nobody thinks I put words into Alan’s mouth, this wasn’t a post of his. It was mine.

    Reply
  • Stevebob79

    I agree too. It sometimes frustrates and upsets me that I don’t have a passion. I occasionally find myself feeling quite jealous of people who have a clear passion for one particular thing. Both for the focus it seems to bring to people’s lives and social aspects of joining up with others who share the common interest.

    My approach is very similar to both yourself and Jenny. I really like trying new things and don’t like to think there are many things I wouldn’t try at least once. Is this a passion? No I don’t think so. I’ve always been ‘a little bit interested about a lot of things’ and think it makes my life all the richer.

    Would I like to swap and be a passionate focussed person rather than a man of many interests? I’m really not sure.

    Reply
  • Kevin Biles

    Passion is indeed difficult to define. Not sure I can define it. When I think of passion I think of something that when all is said and done through both frustrating and good times you keep coming back to with a high level of intensity. Let me cite a recent example. Our school has developed a strong technology program over the past five years because we have developed a passion for wanting to deliver instruction in a different way. Although we still have much to learn we have a desire (and I a burning desire) to continue to grow. Recently our 5th grade has visited a 1 to 1 school district so that we could become more familiar with what it looks and feels like. After much research on the setting up a 1 to 1 iTouch initiative with our 5th grade, going through a generous amount of bureaucratic red tape we now have begun our 1 to 1 journey. It was a pricey endeavor to fund this as we purchased a lot of PD for the upcoming year. That being said, it took passion to see this happen. Do I Diigo the heck out of all the iTouch/iPad links that folks share on Twitter–You bet. Burning desire and the strong belief in something is passion. Willingness to persevere to see it through.

    Reply
  • Mike Huhndorf

    I think passion is something that ebbs and flows but is always there and depending on the subject will always rouse one’s interest. I love history and and have particular areas of history I find more interesting than others. Such links and articles will always find me looking at them. I think a “passion for learning” is something that passes as interest and curiosity about life. Some things provoke us more than other things but all the same, the desire to want to learn and understand are ever constant.

    Reply
  • nightliz

    I have been trying and trying to find my “one true passion” and have not been successful. My two best friends have had clear, overwhelming passions for years, while I just liked school and learning. I love to learn, to try new things, to explore. Part of me is content with doing, trying, and being happy with that, but part of me still wants _one_ passion so I can “be successful” and “normal.”

    Reply
  • -->
    1. Jenny Ellwood says:

      Absolutely agree, Alan! I’ve been wondering the same thing for a few months now & wondering is something wrong with me? Where is my passion? I was coming up with some of the same answers as you did: I like learning new things but then seem to be quite happy to let them go after a while & move on to try other things……but maybe that’s it – my passion is trying new things! That’s made things fall into place so now I can allow myself to explore & make more of a ruckus! A marvellous uplifting post!

    2. Brian Mull says:

      Thanks. I appreciate the feedback on that. Glad I’m not the only one dealing with the struggle. Just to be clear though, and so that nobody thinks I put words into Alan’s mouth, this wasn’t a post of his. It was mine.

    3. Stevebob79 says:

      I agree too. It sometimes frustrates and upsets me that I don’t have a passion. I occasionally find myself feeling quite jealous of people who have a clear passion for one particular thing. Both for the focus it seems to bring to people’s lives and social aspects of joining up with others who share the common interest.

      My approach is very similar to both yourself and Jenny. I really like trying new things and don’t like to think there are many things I wouldn’t try at least once. Is this a passion? No I don’t think so. I’ve always been ‘a little bit interested about a lot of things’ and think it makes my life all the richer.

      Would I like to swap and be a passionate focussed person rather than a man of many interests? I’m really not sure.

    4. Kevin Biles says:

      Passion is indeed difficult to define. Not sure I can define it. When I think of passion I think of something that when all is said and done through both frustrating and good times you keep coming back to with a high level of intensity. Let me cite a recent example. Our school has developed a strong technology program over the past five years because we have developed a passion for wanting to deliver instruction in a different way. Although we still have much to learn we have a desire (and I a burning desire) to continue to grow. Recently our 5th grade has visited a 1 to 1 school district so that we could become more familiar with what it looks and feels like. After much research on the setting up a 1 to 1 iTouch initiative with our 5th grade, going through a generous amount of bureaucratic red tape we now have begun our 1 to 1 journey. It was a pricey endeavor to fund this as we purchased a lot of PD for the upcoming year. That being said, it took passion to see this happen. Do I Diigo the heck out of all the iTouch/iPad links that folks share on Twitter–You bet. Burning desire and the strong belief in something is passion. Willingness to persevere to see it through.

    5. Mike Huhndorf says:

      I think passion is something that ebbs and flows but is always there and depending on the subject will always rouse one’s interest. I love history and and have particular areas of history I find more interesting than others. Such links and articles will always find me looking at them. I think a “passion for learning” is something that passes as interest and curiosity about life. Some things provoke us more than other things but all the same, the desire to want to learn and understand are ever constant.

    6. nightliz says:

      I have been trying and trying to find my “one true passion” and have not been successful. My two best friends have had clear, overwhelming passions for years, while I just liked school and learning. I love to learn, to try new things, to explore. Part of me is content with doing, trying, and being happy with that, but part of me still wants _one_ passion so I can “be successful” and “normal.”

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