We often talk about passion, but we tend to use it very loosely. We usually refer to passion in passing – it is rarely the primary focus of discussion or analysis.
I am just as guilty of this. So, what is meant by passion? For many, it simply means strong emotions of any kind. In this context, it is often suspect because we perceive it to mean that clear and rational thinking becomes overwhelmed by intense emotions. In fact, for many it is viewed as a sign of shiftlessness – passions coming and going with the blink of an eye. For others, passion simply means happiness – pursuing activities that make us happy in the moment. In other contexts, it is used to mean loss of control – we surrender to passion.
Passion is about perseverance. Passionate people are rarely distracted for long; their passion keeps them on track and calls them inexorably back to the quest ahead.
Passion is also about pursuit. It is not passive. People with passion are driven to pursue and create. They may read books and observe others, but they are not content being bystanders.
Passion is certainly not the same as happiness, unless we move beyond the transitory happiness of the moment and seek out a much deeper happiness that ultimately comes from achieving our potential.
Passion is about discipline – self-imposed discipline that drives passionate people to persist and not get discouraged in the face of enormous obstacles.
Passion is about performance. People pursuing their passion have a clear sense of performance metrics.
While many passionate people are amateurs in the sense of not yet integrating their passion with their profession, passion is professional in the sense that people pursuing their passion are deeply committed to the domain that has engaged them, they have a deep sense of integrity about their quest and they have demanding expectations about themselves in terms of performance.
Passion is about progression – passionate people constantly seek new challenges and opportunities to drive their performance to new levels. For passionate people, achieving their full potential has little meaning. They see that their potential is constantly being expanded by new possibilities.
Passion is about connecting. We all know stories about lone inventors who are deeply passionate about their quest and spend much of their lives locked away in their basement workshops tinkering and experimenting with new approaches to driving performance. These stories are the exception rather than the rule. More generally, passion leads us to seek out and connect with others sharing our passion. We intuitively understand that the best way for us to advance is to connect with and learn from others.
Passion pulls. Passionate people are deeply creative in seeking out and pulling in resources that will help them to pursue their passion. But passion also pulls in another dimension as well. People who pursue their passions inevitably create beacons that attract others who share their passion.
Passion is not predictable. Because it comes from within and drives people to embrace unexpected opportunities and explore uncharted territories, it does not deal well with prescribed routines and scripts.
Passion is about risk-taking. Passion diminishes perceptions of risk and amplifies perceptions of reward. In a curious way, risk becomes reward for passionate people. They see that risk is the only way to discover new things and explore new territories.
Passion is about authenticity. Passionate people have little patience with pretense. They present themselves as they really are because they intuitively understand that is the only way to explore and discover.
I ask again… What Really Matters to you? I’ll tell you mine next time.