There is a whole heap of confusion about passion these days. “Find your passion! Follow your bliss!” comes the advice from well-meaning friends when we seem to lose our way or the energy is flagging. “You just need a good ……(fill in the blank!),” they’ll say. “Have some fun. Go for it!” It is as if it’s a simple act of doing something wild/daring/unusual/exciting will magically unblock a valve and unfurl a path of no resistance. There’s nothing wrong with this – in fact it can help, albeit temporarily. The problem is, it’s reaching outside for the solution. Many people see passion in this light, as a short-lived flash of fiery emotion, a catharsis, an explosive force that will break through your present perceived limitations – and then once you’re through you can return to your ‘normal’ demure self.
Seen in this way, passion would seem temporary. And yet the daily reality of those who create – artists, writers, speakers, composers, filmmakers etc – is that sometimes the passion goes underground. The current is still there, the deep desire to create remains, but the thrill of creative spark has made way for the quieter, sometimes dogged persistence of one who deeply loves what she does, one who knows what he is doing is right and who truly wishes to bring a piece of work to completion.
Wasn’t it Thomas Edison that said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”?
In this way Passion is far bigger than mere motivation. Motivation is a carrot on a stick – extra hours towards your bonus, saving $2 on a packet of cornflakes. Motivations are desires that arise from circumstance and they are all about results: running for the bus; ironing a shirt; fixing the TV aerial to watch the soccer. Or they are your response to the fear of what might happen if you don’t act – working overtime so you don’t get sacked, using anti-wrinkle cream, avoiding a fine on your tax return. Motivations tend to be logical, goal oriented and based on externals. Passions, on the other hand, are more of an intuitive, inner drive, and are therefore more enduring. Motivations are more about the head. Passions are about the whole person.
For some, their most pressing desires/motivations are actually concerned with problems which then become the central theme around which their lives revolve: to have a backache go away; to pay the bills this month; repair the roof.
Sometimes this dynamic can be so subtle we don’t even notice it. True passions – ie your deepest desires, aspirations and values, do not arise from circumstance, but come from a something deeper and more essential in you. They are your gift to yourself and those around you, open and inclusive. They are not narrow and fixated, hell-bent on achieving one particular goal to the exclusion of all else. They incorporate the big picture not only of what you want to ‘do’ in the world, but also of how you wish to ‘be’. They are an expression of you as a unique human being.
Quick Tip Nurturing Passion
As you make you way through your day, keep a note of when you’re in motivation mode, and when you’re in passion mode. If at the end of the day the passion rating comes out as poor then you might find that you’ve come down with a bad case of motivationitis. Don’t panic. It is easily cured. The treatment consists of investing time in one or more of the following until the symptoms subside:
- Boogie boarding
- Lying out under the stars
- Going to the circus
- Walking by the ocean
- Eating an exotic meal
- Singing to the shower curtain
- Climbing a tree
- A round of crazy golf
- Making a sand castle