Last 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.
I 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.
- 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.