Don’t Go Looking For Your Passion Become a Passionate Person Instead
You must find your passion. Have you heard that admonition before? I’ve both read it and listened to it many times from thought leaders of high esteem and learning. They say, find your passion and make that your life’s work. Then you will be happy, full of positive energy, and live a meaningful life.
Allow me to disagree. Setting out to find our passion is the wrong way to embark upon life’s journey.
I recently heard a speaker tell a story of how his daughter found her passion by helping troubled school kids. A rowdy child was assigned to her classroom. She was able to calm him. After this incident, helping at-risk troubled kids became her life work. She had discovered her passion. This is a illustration of how one person chose to focus her life on helping others. However, it’s not a template for finding one’s passion. Committing to such a search sets us up for the wrong focus for our lives.
Find your passion?
The argument to “find your passion” goes something like this… There is at least one thing out there that will give you a buzz. Most often, it taps into your strength and many times positions you to help humanity. You must look diligently for it. You must seek it and actively pursue it. Therefore, if you don’t find your passion then you have either not looked hard enough, you are not wise enough, or maybe you are just not lucky enough. The unspoken conclusion being that our life will not quite measure up.
This idea has been presented as a modern enlightenment.While our forefathers had to drudge through work without self-reflecting, we on the other hand have risen to higher levels of self-discovery and found the secret to true enchantment. We are encouraged to leave everything behind and follow your passion.
But what we are calling “passion” is merely finding work that makes us feel good, by using our strength (which makes us effective), and by helping others (which is noble and self-satisfying). But I submit to you that effectively helping others must not be our ultimate goal in life. Doing what we ought to do must be our ultimate goal. Many times, the two are not one and the same.
Do good, honest, honorable work.
Consider a farmer who has no choice but to farm in order to feed his family. He gets up at 6am and returns home after laboring all day. He works six days a week. He enjoys some aspects of his job. But really, it is hard work, and ultimately monotonous. Has the farmer lived a substandard life?
Consider the accountants, lawyers, brick layers, welders, or professors who do skilled work with excellence in order to feed their families, but are not necessarily saving the world or getting accolades for being a genius in their field. Most of them, like the farmer, would not consider their work their passion. But these professionals are doing good, honest, honorable work. Must we ask them all to leave their professions and find something to do that stimulates their brains’ pleasure centers because they are super-effective and could even save the world? No.
Some may say, well the farmer can go on the internet, and read, and learn, and search for what he loves. When he discovers it, he must make that his profession. What if this farmer cannot? What if he cannot read? What if the teacher above did not stumble on finding that she loves helping troubled kids? Must they consider their life a failure?
Become a passionate person.
We must not teach people that life’s ultimate goal centers on finding one’s passion. Rather, we should lead people to understand how to do whatever it is they do—with passion. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about an American Airline stewardess who served my wife and I with passion on a plane to Florida. Some may look at her and say, wow she is passionate about being a stewardess. I on the other hand am certain that if this woman were placed in another profession, she would exercise the same spirit of excellence and service. She would be passionate there also because she brings passion to whatever she does.
I could easily say my passion is to practice medicine, lead, teach, speak, and write. I have worked hard, tried, and failed. I have become relatively good, and on an average day, I think I help people. But I don’t want to define and center my energy on doing things that I have worked hard to perfect. I want my passion to be doing what is right, at the right time. I want to become a passionate person. What if one day I have an injury or illness and cannot be a doctor, writer, or a speaker? What if because of that illness I become a gardener instead? Will I lose the meaning of my life?
Here is my true passion: to surrender to God’s will, to love and provide for my family, to serve people God brings my way, and to do everything before me with excellence as unto the Lord.
When and if you find work you in which you excel, acts that benefit others, a place where you are effective, productive, and enchanting to others, and if it is all pleasing to you, don’t get shackled by calling it your passion. Rather be passionate about whatever you are led to do throughout your entire lifespan.
Stop looking for your passion. Instead, work to be transformed into a person who is passionate about doing what you should in order to support your family, to do God’s will, to do what is right, to serve, and to promote others. Do this in whatever field and in whatever capacity you find yourself.
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