I was recently asked what I am ‘passionate’ about - and I had a tough time answering that question. That conversation has been sitting - not well - with me for a while now. As someone who is generally pretty quick with an answer, not being able to effectively answer a simple question is neither typical nor enjoyable.
But as frustrated as it made me, like all good questions, it also made me think.
I’m admittedly not someone who wears his passion(s) on his sleeve - at least not publicly. I am frequently accused of having a low-key personality - and most of the time I’m guilty as charged. That’s not always true - because on the infrequent occasions I do get riled, look out - but that’s a side of me few have seen, and another conversation entirely.
For the most part, my low-key personality has served me well, and it is who I am, so like it or not I’m stuck with me.
But this question - what am I passionate about - and how do I define passion - has stuck with me. Then, earlier today I came across this post by Scott Berkun which I really liked. It laid out the idea of ‘passion’ in a very calm, logical way - i.e. my way.
There are at least four piles of things in the world for you:
- Things you like/love
- Things you are good at
- Things you can be paid to do
- Things that are important
But only you can sort out which things go in which piles, or hopefully, all four piles.
Yes that pretty much nails it. And those four ‘piles’ also happen to apply exactly to what I’m doing right now. So I’m feeling pretty good about that. And apparently ‘passionate’ as well.
But as I think it through, it’s also more complicated - because, for instance, at the time I was being asked about my passion, I was concurrently struggling mightily with some thorny professional and organizational issues. Tough ones, though I’m happy to say that they have since been - successfully - resolved.
So that becomes part of my definition of ‘passion’ as well. The most important ‘things’ also tend to come with obstacles in the way. Those obstacles can make the day-to-day experience of living one’s passions a struggle.
But passion is what drives drives us through the struggle, around - or through - the obstacles - and to our ultimate goals - be they professional, personal or both.
In other words, the things that you’re most passionate about are the things you’ll fight for. And those are the battles - if you’re truly passionate - that you will not surrender - and ultimately that you will win.
Calm or not, that’s what I’m all about.
So great stuff - thanks for the clarity Scott.
And thanks to the ‘asker’ of the original question. As frustrated as you made me, you also made me think - for that I’m grateful.
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