“…the saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all….” – Nicholas Sparks, Author of The Notebook
These days, you’re urged to “follow your passions” – “follow your heart” – and “lean in”–but what if you’re not sure where your particular passion lies? What if you don’t know which way to lean?
The modern definition of the term passion or passionate means to have strong feelings or a strong belief towards something, however, the root word of passion expresses the idea of being moved to action where there is pain and suffering. The heart of passion lies in having enjoyment and satisfaction in what you do.
A 2013 Gallup poll found that 70 percent of American workers were disengaged from their jobs; engaged employees were defined as those who work with passion and feel a genuine connection to their work or company. Based on the survey it didn’t seem to matter what industry, profession or occupation was chosen – the criteria for selection was almost always enjoyment. In essence, the best workers enjoy their work. As a result, they put their heart and soul into the activity, so much so that it leads to success in their endeavors or area of expertise.
About three-weeks ago, as a birthday gift to my sister, we went to see the closing night of Broadway show, “Holler If Ya Hear Me.” A good friend of ours was part of the cast, so we decided to make the trip to the NYC on a Sunday night for good eats and great theater. I loved the show and was disappointed to hear of its early closure (side note – critics aren’t always correct in their reviews). Nonetheless, while I loved the overall premise of the show, the one part of the show that truly struck a chord with me, and provided an “aha” moment was the casts’ final bow.
The audience provided a standing ovation, and afterwards, as theatergoers slowly began to file out of the theater, I remained and looked onstage as the actors, dancers, producers and musicians joyously danced, cried and hugged on stage. Their faces were full of joy, contentment, satisfaction and finally sadness as they realized they would not have the opportunity to grace the stage again, to perform this show. I looked on in the same way that a stranger quietly stares or catches a glimpse of the affections shared between a couple who are obviously in love, and longingly wishes that they could experience the same emotion.
I wondered, “What will they all do tomorrow?” I guessed, probably off to the next gig or audition, passionately pursuing the craft that makes them so happy. I thought to myself, “wow, this is what loving what you do looks like.” I wish that I could bottle the emotion that emanated from the stage that evening and sell it to those of us who may never feel that type of passion with the work or life that we are living.
Author of the book and hit movie, “The Notebook” — Nicholas Sparks wrote, “the saddest people I’ve ever met in life are the ones who don’t care deeply about anything at all. Passion and satisfaction go hand in hand, and without them, any happiness is only temporary, because there’s nothing to make it last.”
One of my favorite quotes, from the iconic founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, spoke to the essence of loving what you do, he said, “It [what you choose to do] has got to be something that you’re passionate about because otherwise you won’t have the perseverance to see it through.”
Heck, even the bible speaks about living a life with passion. Solomon, “son of David, king in Jerusalem” wrote and provides this recommendation in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 5, “Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life…to enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God.”
I meet people everyday who work at jobs that they “hate” (this is their language not mine). I meet people who wish they could quit their jobs so that they could fully pursue their passions. I meet people who are able to work a 9 to 5 job that meets their financial needs, while pursuing their passion as a side project or business. I meet people who have taken a leap of faith, left their jobs and transitioned to a totally new field of work. I meet people who are still trying to figure out what their passion is; and I meet people who have the wonderful opportunity to do what they love everyday– with the added bonus of receiving full work benefits, 401K and a great salary.
Some of the key lessons that I’ve learned from those who have or are pursuing their passion are below:
1. Pursuing one’s passion looks different for everyone.
There is not a one size fits all in the pursuit of following your passion, for some it begins with supporting or working with an organization that is doing what you love; for others it’s starting their own organization or “side business”; and for others it may just begin with joining or starting an affinity group with like minded individuals.
2. You have to start somewhere.
Once you know what you’re passionate about, begin taking steps toward the pursuit of that passion. Baby steps will still get you to your destination, so no need to sprint to the finish line. You may not be able to make it to Broadway yet, so start with working in a community play.
3. Get around passionate people.
The other day I was thinking about my inner circle and realized I need to expand my sphere of influencers. There is nothing more contagious and inspiring then being around people who are passionate about life and about what they do. Their energy, knowledge, boldness and fearlessness will inspire you to move forward in your own journey.
4. Make sure you are passionate about what you are pursuing.
You have to enjoy and be satisfied with whatever you are pursuing. If you don’t enjoy what you do, if you don’t have a heart for it, if it can’t consistently move you to action then you will not have the stamina to endure or go on for the long-term when the going gets tough.
So my question to you is “what are you passionate about?” If you’re not sure, try answering some of these self-discovery questions:
- What burdens/breaks your heart?
- What matters to you?
- What important problem are you seeking to solve? (For example, some people pursue a passion because they are seeking to spend more time with their families or more time to pursue traveling (your passion doesn’t have to save the world but it can seek to solve a problem of bringing balance to your life)
What’s your passion? How are you getting there?
As owner of Overcomer Consulting LLC, Anide Jean is a certified coach, consultant, marketing communications professional and speaker/trainer dedicated to helping individuals and organizations overcome challenges that keep them from achieving their life, professional or business goals. She is a champion for causes aimed towards education, urban youth, Haiti and empowering women and organizations through social, professional or spiritual development. To book speaking or training events with Anide Jean please visit www.overcomerconsulting.com
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