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Passion: Found or Followed?

Thanksgiving is only a few days away and with it, the requisite review of life wherein we focus on that for which we are grateful. To this day, I remain grateful for the opportunity and privilege of being able to pursue work and initiatives that I feel are a good use of my time and skills. Early in my career, I lacked that fulfilling sense of contributing to something meaningful.

To follow, or not to follow? That is the question.

Since starting this blog as a means to process the fear and worry of walking out the door with no real plan for finding that higher and better use of me, I have had the opportunity to explore various facets that comprise that sense of fulfillment. For some people it is their work. For others it is being involved in organizations and causes in the spare time. Whatever the case may be, the key is to identify what that looks like for you and engage it with intention.

But that can be easier said than done, and last month, the Harvard Business Review published a great article as to why that is. Without giving too much away – I dare not deprive you of substantive reading over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend – the author, Jon Jachimowicz, identifies a few key elements that prevent people from living with the passion that many, myself included, encourage others to find. Jachimowicz cautions against thinking of passion as something to be "found." He believes it is wrong to see it as a magical “ah ha” moment that, once found, remains with someone forever. While I broadly agree with him, the path to passion itself is not static. For some it takes much dabbling. For others, they know it instantly. Neither is better or worse, right or wrong. Passion is a fickle thing. The key is deliberately bringing it into your life.

He also advises against confusing that which is fun for that which you care about. The former can be more fleeting than the latter. Again, I agree. However, passion can be both. The idea of one not deriving fun from a particular passion almost seems paradoxical. In many cases, doing something fun can turn out to be a passion one never saw coming.

The last part of the article talks about the limits to passion, and I agree it should be balanced, where necessary, with practical understanding of one’s limits and with respect to a potential audience. However, I disagree with Jachimowicz’s point about tailoring our passionate behavior when an audience might not judge us worthy of being “one of those passionate types.” Too much emphasis is being placed on the idea that an external audience determines who is allowed to express passion. In my judgement, everyone can and must.

Check out the article and examine where in your life you’ve cultivated your own passions. Was it instantaneous, or did it take time? Did you dabble in various interests before finding it, or have you always known what it was? Has it changed over time, and if so, how? Are there new passions you feel you want to explore? If so, when are you going to do it?

Just some food for thought. Happy Thanksgiving.



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