In today’s hyperconnected world, perhaps no other word is misused than the word Passion. We are confronted daily with throwaway lines like “Live your dreams. Follow your passion.” On social media we are bombarded with pictures of beautiful people on tropical islands with bright white smiles – all living their “passion”. But what does passion really mean?
Merriam-Webster has five definitions for the word passion. For the purpose of our discussion today, we will use the fifth one,a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept. This definition helps us build the framework that your passion is a vehicle that you will use to pursue your dreams. Think of your life as a road, filled with twists and turns, with an ultimate destination of fulfilling your purpose. Your passion is the vehicle you will use on that road to achieving your dreams. The question is: how reliable is your vehicle?
Cal Newport, a computer scientist and MIT graduate, wrote a book called So Good They Can’t Ignore You. Newport explores the follow-your-passion myth. He explores the path of two people who decided to follow their passions in different ways. One woman walked away from a successful career in advertising to open a yoga studio. Unfortunately for her, her expertise and experience were not in yoga. When she stepped into the industry, she was considered a novice. After a few years, the woman was waiting in line at the public assistance office applying for food stamps and a new job.
In complete contrast, a man in the advertising business decided he wanted out of the rat race of the business. His true love was being an artist. He decided he would explore his options to practice his art within his current job and found a strength in creating logos for companies. He was so successful that he was hired by an agency that gave him the creative license to run his own design business within its organization. After fifteen years, he was able to leave this organization and fully fund his own design business.
What kind of vehicles were these two people driving? If you are looking the first example of the woman who pursued her passion for yoga, would you say her vehicle was sound? What about the man in the second story? Which one of these people took their time to invest in crafting and building their vehicle so that they would successfully reach their destination?
As you begin to focus your energy on understanding what your passion is and how you can use it to fuel your life, begin to build out the framework for improving your competency around the passion. Just like a craftsman, you usually begin as an apprentice and practice your craft for many hours before you are proficient. As you look at your life, where have you invested time into learning and growing? What capital have you built into your passion that will make you successful?
Your passion is the vehicle, the “it”, that you will spend years developing and crafting until you have something strong and reliable. Working your passion will help you succeed in your journey when life is throwing nothing but icy roads and detours in your path. Your passion is the one thing that you will work on day and night because you know that getting better at it means you will achieve your goals.
Work your passion – achieve your dreams!