Follow your passion. Sounds easy, right? Isn’t that something that we have heard from the time we were little people? Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life, goes the old cliché.
Over the years of talking to hundreds (maybe thousands) of people, I have found that this ‘following your passion’ notion is much harder than it sounds. In today’s world, most people are stumped when I ask them to tell me about their passion.
If I ask them, “What is the next step in your career?” most of the time I can get an answer within 3 seconds. But, when confronted with the query, “What are you passionate about?” more times than not, I get a blank or quizzical stare. Or more sadly, something on the order of, “Fip, I haven’t felt passion for many, many years.”
I have found the reason for this to be that we have simply been taught to drop the word passion from our lexicon when thinking about our careers. You see, passion is not a practical word. It is a word that we (especially we men) don’t talk about, nor do we think about. And, certainly we don’t believe it has any bearing on what we do for a living.
I believe that this is one of the reasons that a recent Gallup Poll found that 55% of the US workforce is not engaged in their work while 16% were actively unengaged. No passion, no engagement.
So, what is passion and why is it so hard to incorporate into an area of our lives where we spend the most time?
Merriam-Webster has multiple definitions for passion, the first two being:
a : the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death
b : intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction
Ok, A is interesting and I had not thought about that one before looking it up, but I do like the visual of the Christ sweating blood when we are discussing what should be the driving force of our life….Passion. We will come back to this definition in the next blog post.
For now, let’s focus on B. Intense….driving….overmastering feeling or conviction. I truly believe that all of us has a Passion. Something that is an “overmastering feeling” inside of us. It’s just that for most of us no one has ever asked us the –what is your passion?–question. Heck, most of us haven’t even asked ourselves the question.
But my experience tells me that there is nothing….and I mean NOTHING that you can have a passion about that you cannot make a living at. Period, end of sentence.
Let me tell you about a man named George.
During one of my seminars (Follow Your Passion: Find Your Path), I used to tempt and challenge my audience (I stopped doing this as my partner was uncomfortable with me throwing money around….kidding, but I don’t do this anymore) by pulling a stack of ten $100 bills out of my briefcase with the initials and dates by former seminar-goers on the first several of them, and issuing the challenge.
The challenge: if anyone in the audience could come up front and prove to me that they had a passion (a real passion, not just one to try to stump me and get my cash) and we could not, through some simple questions and answers come up with several ideas which may allow them to make a living in the field of their passion, they got to keep my money. If we did, then they, like all the others, had to initial, date and give me back my bundle.
During once such moment a gentleman came forward and announced loudly, “I am going to take your money.”
George was a man in his mid-to-late 50s, about as wide as he was tall (and he was about 5 foot 6). His gait was more a waddle than a walk. As he was coming up to the stage, I asked him what his passion was and his face broke into a grin while his eyes brightened (a sure sign of Passion). He proceeded to proclaim, “I love golf. I get out on the course any chance I get, sometimes up to 5 to 6 times a week in the summers. I am obvious NOT Tiger Woods. Hell, I rarely break 100. I am never going to make money at golf, so GIVE ME MY MONEY. “
“Not so fast” I said.
“Let me ask you some questions here, before I just hand over the $1,000. First, what do you currently do for a living?”
He went on to explain that he was a manufacturer’s representative for plumbing supplies. Quite frankly, as he droned on and on, the light gone from his eyes, I and most others had lost interest in the details. He, and we, were not engaged.
I stopped him with, “Ok….I get it, you sell to contractors and plumbing houses, correct?” He agreed so I went on with several more questions.
“I golf a little myself,” I said. “At the courses I go to there are normally Pro Shops…are there Pro Shops at the courses you play?”
“What do they sell?” I asked.
He went on to tell me about golf clubs, tees, balls, etc. found in the Pro Shops. I then asked, “How did that stuff get there?”
Before he could answer I made another inquiry: “I mean no offense, but you don’t look as if you walk when you are on the course. Do you walk or take a cart?”
He answered, “I don’t walk, I drive a cart.”
I said, “At the courses I go to there are hundreds of carts…are there a lot of carts at the ones you go to?” He began, “Yes and…” I interrupted, “And how did THEY get there?”
The light of awareness registered on his face indicating that he got the idea. So, he initialed and dated one of my Ben Franklins and I place them back in my briefcase.
Lest you think this was just an amusing little story, think again. It took 3 years, but George is now a manufacturer’s rep for Nike Golf and spends his life on and around golf courses, in and around his passion.
George had a passion (golf) and thought he could only make a living at it one way –by playing. That was certainly not true and he now knows it.
A very wise man told me his life’s credo a short time ago. It goes like this, “Everything we need, is all around us, at all times, all we have to do is look for it. It may not come in the way we expect, but it is there.”
You can Follow Your Passion….you can Find Your Path to it.
So, what is your Passion?
Brian Fippinger is a Managing Partner of Q4 Consulting. Q4 provides Somatically based Career and Leadership Coaching and Workshops. Let's chat and see what Path we can create together.
Image source: qthomasbower
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