Is it just me or does it seem like you cannot go one day without hearing someone talk about how passionate they are about something? I think passion is one of the most overused and misapplied descriptions in today’s conversation and when I hear it invoked all of my alarm bells immediately sound.
First, let’s establish that passion is essentially defined as an intense, driving, or overpowering feeling or conviction as well as an ardent affection or deep devotion to some activity, object, or concept.
Using this as the definition of passion, the question that has to be asked is just how many things can you be passionate about? How many subjects can legitimately create such an overwhelming urge to act on your part? How many different pursuits are capable of stirring your internal call to action and moving you on a regular basis?
If you have somehow made yourself believe that you are passionate about more than a couple of things in your life, than you are overusing the term and if you find yourself declaring your passion for cleaning your house or utilizing good manners, than you are most certainly misapplying the description.
Now that I’ve called out those who overuse the expression of passion, how about those that are not passionate about anything or at least fail to demonstrate it at times that it should be evident? You may know the personality type or have recently witnessed an example. This would be the person who will “cold fish” you on a handshake or the ballplayer who jogs to first base on a ground ball in play.
Like so many things in life, a little balance goes a long way. If you walk around telling everyone how passionate you are about things, you are probably not going to garner much credibility. On the other hand, if your actions are such that whatever passion you may possess is nowhere to be found, the people around you will not rush to join your team.
The key is to discover the few things that you have passion for and then pursue those things with everything you’ve got. If you have yet to identify those things, don’t worry. You can discover just as much joy in your pursuit of that discovery. Along those lines, let’s identify what needs to be present for a real passion to develop besides the descriptive words in the definition above.
Passion is not judgmental or temperamental. If you think of passion as your feelings for your spouse or significant other, your passion for that person must encompass everything about that person, especially if you are going to make a lasting commitment.
I look at it like this. If you are truly passionate about someone, you love that person in spite of who they are. True and lasting love is not based on what someone does for you or how they make you feel. Those are moving targets and they are subject to change on a regular basis. Real passion exists when you know someone well enough to accept them for everything they are, flaws and all. When you understand and accept the worst of someone and you love them anyway, you have the truest form of true love!
Passion does not take a day off. If you are truly passionate about your work or your career, you are willing to accept the bad days with the good days. You may even produce more or do better work when times are tough because your job means that much to you.
Passion does not have a deadline and is not subject to the clock. If you are working on something that is a matter of personal importance, your thoughts and actions are not dominated by what time of the day or night it happens to be.
Passion is a great prioritizer and motivator. I have daily tasks that I need to complete and I am sure you do as well. Some of those tasks are pretty mundane. As wonderful as it would be to be involved in a pursuit of passion all day, it is not realistic. If passion exists in your heart, however, it will also influence your mind and guide you back to the source of that passion. When this occurs, you will inevitably work your way toward that source of passion. You may complete those mundane tasks a little faster to do so.
Passion creates purpose and meaning. When you discover something to be passionate about it can help you decide not only how you should be spending your time, but it can influence the direction you head toward and the goals that you set along the way.
Passion expands exponentially. When you have it, you want more of it and you will be more likely to create opportunities for it to develop and more alert to moments that will lend itself to it. A hug can turn into a HUG and that project that you were signed can turn into a PROJECT!
Passion and the pursuit of it are an absolute must. There is no joy in a life spent without it or deliberately avoiding it. If you have it, cherish it and do everything you can to nurture it. If you don’t have it, find it and then hold on tight!
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.