Speaking about Passion

Some subjects may not seem to fit in a leadership blog.  Passion might be one of those.  But I believe passion is an important topic to address for our passions are what make us people.  Our passions keep us vibrant.  Our passions create space for learning.  Our passions challenge us in such subtle ways that we do not experience hardship of loss or potential for failure.  Our passions fuel our minds and our bodies.  Our passions create Ben Zander’s version of “shining eyes” in our teams and ourselves.

Each April, the Katie Caples Foundation sponsors the Katie Ride for Life on Florida’s Amelia Island.  The “Ride” is a cycling event, a walking event, and a running event.  For 2014, a spinning bike component was added to the mix.  And that is where I witnessed the passion that prompted this piece.

Katie Ride for LifeGary Humphrey (adventurer, survival skills instructor, former member of the Royal Marines and UK Special Forces, Discovery Channels survival expert/TV presenter and all-around nice guy) challenged himself to participate in this event by riding 24 hours on one of the stationary spinning bikes.  He was joined by others periodically during the day, night, and following morning.  But, the tenacity to keep on that bike for 24 hours solely rested on his shoulders.  See, Gary has passion for the causes he represented:  the Katie Ride for Life (supporting organ donor education) and Walking with the Wounded (supporting wounded military in their efforts to retrain, re-skill, and find new careers).  Gary’s passion trumped his pain.  He stayed the course for his causes and those who believed in him.

How can someone do this?  What is inside a person that accomplishes these types of feats?  The short answer – passion.  A passion for something bigger/greater than oneself.   A passion for a cause, a belief, a deep-seated reason-to-be.

Need proof?  Listen to Amy Purdy  (Snowboarder, Olympian, “Dancing with the Stars” contestant, double-amputee).

“Your passion is attached to your purpose.”

Passion interrupts doubt.

When one has pure passion about a cause, obstacles are overcome.  Determination is hardened. The focus is on moving toward conclusion, objective, and achievement. Passion answers the question “why am I doing this?”

Author Elizabeth Gilbert equates one’s passion to one’s home.

“Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. … Your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential.”

I get a bit concerned when people use “passion” as a cover-up for unscrupulous or evil deeds.  We see and hear of others harming/disrupting lives and lifestyles in the name of “passion”.  That is not passion.  True passion is uplifting and healing – not harmful or distressing.  When we choose to follow a path on which we will harness all of our energies, it should be for the greater good.  The litmus test of a passion – does it help or does it hurt?

Passion drives us to do extraordinary things. 

And with passion, extraordinary is sustained.

Does fear get in the way of identifying or exploring your passion?  What if you are in the wrong field?  What if you have invested a great deal of time in your work/job/education, only to realize that it is the wrong fit for you?  Sometimes we believe that the track we are following (and have been following for many years) is the track on which we should continue.  It is scary to jump tracks.  It is frightening to give up what you know and what makes you comfortable in order to follow something as ethereal and untested as a passion.  So many of us won’t.  Many of us will say life is ok.  I will continue on.  But in the wee small hours of the morning, will you wonder, “what am I missing”?

“Passion is your greatest love. Passion is the thing that will help you create the highest expression of your talent. Passion, interest — it’s not the same thing.  What you want … is passion. It is beyond interest.”

– Larry Smith (Economics professor)

find your passion phraseFinding your passion is an individual journey.  So, inspire yourself to take that trip.  Follow Gary as he continues to challenge himself for others.  Reflect on the obstacles that Amy has overcome in the name of passion.  Listen to Ben, Elizabeth and Larry as they share their thoughts.

Be brave.  Be bold.  Be passionate.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

– Mark Twain



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