“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.”
While hard work for something you love might be tiring, you go to bed at night ready to tackle the next day and do it all again. When you are doing something you don’t like and are stressed, you go to bed with dread over what is to come.
How did you wake up this morning, energized or filled with dread?
“When you start to do the things that you truly love, it wouldn’t matter whether it’s Monday or Friday; you would be so excited to wake up each morning to work on your passions.”
How do you know what these passions are? What do you love to do so much that you would do it for free? Solve for the following ingredients, and you are well on your way to creating this life.
Why – Why do you wake up every day? What is your burning purpose beyond making a living? Earning a living is merely an entry price to the game. There has to be a more significant reason for being here, and one has to solve this for yourself.
Who – Who are the people that inspire, motivate, encourage, empower, embolden, and enable you to be your best? Find these people and weave them into your life in every way possible.
How – How do you like to work? Are you an individual contributor? Do you do your best in work teams? How do you give and get energy through your work?
What – What are the specific things that you enjoy doing? The ones that bring you energy and enable you to do show up as your very best self?
These are simple questions, but being able to answer them succinctly will enable you to make every day meaningful.
“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.”
Passion can enable your purpose. Your purpose can also enable your passion. Regardless of whether it lives under the label of “passion” or “purpose,” the critical question to answer is, “why do you do what you do?” If you can’t answer this, then why are you doing it?
The real value in defining your passion and purpose is that they enable you to say “no” to all of the things which will inevitably try and get in the way. Purpose and passion aren’t just a means to an end; they are the great clarifiers of our lives. Solve for these, and you will have the freedom to say “no.”
“If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.”
The calendar changing is a beautiful opportunity to reset your mind and take the time necessary to refocus and align on what you want to accomplish in the year ahead.
However, if you don’t have a deep understanding of your purpose in life, then the goals you set are transactional at best. If you don’t have an intentionally articulated and refined individual purpose, then I would argue that it would be a better use of your time to commit to doing the hard work required to surface and distill your purpose and passion. Only then can you set goals that will inspire the necessary action and commitment needed to carry you through the days when the work is hard, and your energy is low.
If you have goals for 2021 but can’t clearly state your purpose in life and why you are passionate about it, will you say the year is a success? I can’t think of anything worse than achieving goals that don’t have any meaning and are merely stealing your precious time and energy. If you have goals and no purpose, are you making your life meaningful?
You have 365 days in the coming year; what are you going to do to make them count? Define your purpose first, then the goals will flow as if by magic…
“Maybe who we are isn’t so much about what we do, but rather what we’re capable of when we least expect it.”
If you meet someone new at a cocktail party and introduce yourself, what do you say? How do you define yourself in the words you use after you offer up your name? Typically the statements we use next have something to do with our current or former roles. I am sure that we have all done that a million times in our lives. Do you remember anything anyone has said to you in an introduction like that? It can be pretty transactional and only memorable if you are genuinely interested or have an exceptionally high EQ.
What if, instead, we were to use words that described our behaviors on our very best days? The days where we were tested and rose to the occasion? What words would you use then? What impression would you leave on others? More importantly, what difference would it have in your life if you focused on your “best self” behaviors? Perhaps your identity would change from being role-based to passion-based…
“Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.”
What is it that you do that brings you joy? When do you feel fully alive and that every fiber of your being is singing in glorious harmony? Does it have anything to do with your vocation, or does it even need to?
These aren’t questions you should ignore. It is an absolute imperative that you must find your source of joy. It is the coal that stokes the fires and allows you to weather any storm and deliver your best self to those you love and those whom you serve. If you don’t have a fire burning, one you tend to regularly, how on earth can you show up and be your very best? What happens if your fire goes out?
“Great dancers are not great because of their technique; they’re great because of their passion.”
What are those things that stir your soul and enable you to put in the countless hours of effort and energy that are required to master a craft? The beauty of doing these things is that the work, no matter how hard it is, is ALWAYS worth it, and it doesn’t feel like drudgery or a waste of time.
The key to life is to discover the things for which you have this degree of passion and find a way to do them. Everything else you might do fails in comparison to doing something you are deeply passionate about and makes your spirit soar. If you don’t know yours, then I highly recommend taking the time to do the deep soul searching that is required to discover your passion(s).
Your passion could be a hobby, a vocation, or an opportunity to serve others. Whatever it is, do it. Make it part of your intentional living in every way. Everyone has greatness inside them, we just have to put in in the effort that is required to unlock it.
“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
How many things in life do we do with little or no energy? Why do we do them at all? I can think of many things that are just general “administrative” tasks that need to be performed as part of the whirlwind of life. Things that just have to get done. Period. End of story.
The challenge is how do we guard against an attitude of “just getting it done” and not let that creep into how we approach the rest of our lives? How do we ensure that “white hot and passionate” is how we are living as a rule instead of as an exception?
I suggest that we should be intentional and reflective on how we approach the removal of things that we aren’t fully passionate about. Make a list of how you are going to spend your time today. Mark the things that you are energized to do. Mark the things that are just ho-hum.
Ask yourself this question, “does this thing, the ho-hum just get through it thing, really NEED to be done? Can I skip it?” If the answer is yes then kill it. Why is it even on your list in the first place?
If the answer is no, then take great care not to let that attitude and perspective creep into the things that you are passionate about. Rearrange your schedule, prioritize the energizing work, use your best hours of the day on the things that excite you. Above all else, guard your time that is to be spent on things that ignite your soul with the same passion that you protect your family and those that you love. If you don’t, then you are slowly, but surely, putting out your own fire…
“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.”
Jon Bon Jovi
Life is too short to waste a single moment. So what is “waste” as it relates to the entirety of our lives? Simply put it is doing anything where you can’t bring your energy and passion to bear in some way or another.
Passion is a choice. It is a choice in how you show up. It is a choice in how you choose to see the world. It is a choice in what you think, what you say, what you do, what you believe.
Is everything you do going to be something that you are 100% passionate about? Of course not. But every day, every single day, you can choose to find something that is worthy of all of your passion and your energy. It is there. You have to choose to see it, believe it and do it.
If you don’t make that choice are you truly even passionate about living?
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
The first thing that I thought of when I read this quote was the great Steve Miller Band song “Fly Like an Eagle” Not sure it had a direct correlation of meaning but the opening lyric really says it all for me, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, into the future.” That’s what time does right? Next year becomes next month, becomes tomorrow, becomes today, and then it is just a memory. Unless we DO more. Unless we make the time today count. Then it has the chance to not just be our memory anymore but might even become THE MEMORY for someone else. What on earth am I talking about? Listen further into the song.
“I want to fly like an eagle To the sea Fly like an eagle Let my spirit carry me I want to fly like an eagle Till I’m free Oh, Lord, through the revolution”
Eagles inspire. People see them flying and they are so majestic and grand. I think that people who work hard to achieve their dreams do the same thing. They inspire, they motivate, they plant within others the spark they might need to follow their own dream(s). So think of this. What if you by NOT chasing your dream you aren’t only stealing from only yourself? What if you are also impacting someone else’s ability to make their dreams come true because they won’t have you their “fly like an eagle” and show them the way? The time is going to pass, what are you going to do with it both for you AND for others?
What if you impact others the most by chasing your dreams in a way that inspires them?
“Feed the babies Who don’t have enough to eat Shoe the children With no shoes on their feet House the people Livin’ in the street Oh, oh, there’s a solution”
“No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better.”
Jim Yong Kim
Someone once told me that as soon as soon as you profess “I am humble” you have ceased to be so in any way. Humility is hard. We all want to be good. Heck with that, we want to be great! But what does it mean to be great? Is it all about doing it for me? For I? For the ego? The self? The pursuit of selfish endeavors or selfish gains? That is the opposite of humility! For me humility is the recognition that I still yet have a lot to learn. That I will always have more to learn and that everyone can teach me something.
My Dad (who by the way is one of the greatest influences in my life from both a leadership and human character perspective) taught me when I was very young that the value of a person wasn’t measured in the car that they drove or the clothes that they wore. Instead, the value of another man was measured entirely in how they treated other people. Interesting right?! The value of a human being measured not in what they have, but in what they give. Respect. Honor. Dignity. Compassion. Service. These are just some of the gifts that the greats give, regardless of the size of their bank account or their station in life.
So, for today’s quote this is one lesson that I hope I never forget. Ask for feedback. LISTEN to the response. Get better. Period. The day you think you have arrived your journey has ended. Leadership is learning and growing. I am a better leader today than I was one year ago and I hope that what I am today is a pale shadow compared to what I have become a year from now based on really listening, learning, and growing.