I recently had access to a discussion about passion that I was not entirely invited to. I was in a waiting room and as I concentrated on the television and Good Morning America, I couldn’t help but over hear this in-depth conversation about what passion is, how to get it and how it manifests. I must admit it took a lot of restraint not to join in. I did hear tons of things that led me to believe that while passion is a widely discussed subject, there are still many misconceptions about what it is.
Let’s start with the word itself and trace the origin. In Latin, the word passion is: ‘Passio’ and has an interesting definition. It infers an internal struggle or suffering. On the one hand, it is a ‘suffering’ because the desire that is burning within is crying to be expressed and on the other; there is a struggle to position oneself in life to manifest it.
Like most, I have dealt with the concept of being stuck between my dream and my job. I had the responsibility of paying bills and supporting my family but deep within there were ideas and innovations I dreamed to manifest. As a coach, many people inquire about what they should do when they want to step out and do something new but have a household to support. They are struggling because the internal passion is speaking to them constantly. I like to say that with the right understanding of passion and finding an outlet, you can live with both. It all starts with the understanding that passion has stages and must be managed properly.
Here are the four stages of passion and some suggestions on making it through with your sanity:
Stage 1 ~ I want it, but I don’t know why: This is probably one of the more dangerous stages to stay too long in. When you don’t know the purpose of something, abuse is inevitable. The word abuse can be broken down from two key words; abnormal usage. Think about it this way, if you don’t know the purpose for a tool in the garage, you are likely to use it outside of its purpose - abnormally use it. When you do that, you run the risk of damaging the tool and injuring yourself. How many times have you walked away from a situation feeling your talents, ideas and wisdom was misused? The reason is the other person involved probably had no idea of your purpose, so they abnormally used you.
Stage 2 ~ I want it because I need to prove a point: As we progress through the various stages of passion you will eventually come to the place where you feel this overwhelming need to prove a point to the audience of naysayers who said you would fail. If you’re not careful you will get into an energy that is very unhealthy. Proving something to anyone other than yourself is an absolute waste of time and talent. Years ago a mentor told me something that changed my perspective on naysayers, “The only person you need to outwork is the guy in the mirror.” You will find yourself spinning your wheels and getting nowhere if you are performing for the applause of others. Find solace in doing your best for yourself and watch how life will unfold.
Stage 3 ~ I want it just for me: Here is where most reside. It seems harmless enough right? After all, who better to achieve for than yourself. But on a more conscious level you can still miss the big point. In life, we eventually learn that we blossom when we engage in a purpose larger than ourselves. At our base, humanity seeks self-preservation. That is, until we plug in with a vision beyond our reach. Many who have lived in stage 3 too long expressed their eyes opened when they started to volunteer or became a mentor. The bottom line is, we live in a great big world that needs our participation to touch lives.
Stage 4 ~ I want it for us: Now we are cooking! As the great Kareem Abdul-Jabar once said, “A good player wins games, a team wins championships.” In his book Tribal Leadership David Logan says when a person transitions from “I am great” to “We are great,” a global impact can be reached. Think back on some of your most memorable accomplishments, chances are they were directly connected to others. We are never at our greatest until we are connected to each other.
Passion can be a tricky thing. Often we flop around from thing to thing as if we really need guidance on discovering it. People spend small fortunes employing others to help lead them. But the truth is, all you need to do is pay attention to the subtle cues you feel internally. Passion will be an ongoing quest that unfolds little by little as we step forward. Make up your mind today that you will fully express your passions to make the world we live in a better place.