Thomas Edison passively enjoyed inventing. Steve Jobs kind of liked computers. Mother Teresa tolerated sickly Calcuttans. Benjamin Franklin was mildly interested in liberty. William Shakespeare was an okay writer when he could get into it. Martin Luther King, Jr. thought civil rights were worthwhile when “Bonanza” wasn’t on TV. Abraham Lincoln thought preserving the Union would be okay if it didn’t take too much effort.
The above statements are false. These people weren’t passively involved in the things to which they dedicated their lives. Rather, they were passionately invested and fully committed to their fields of choice. But their passions did not reach their potential overnight. These influential legends had to discover what they loved through years of self-acceptance and trial and error. Then they had to make conscious and courageous decisions to pursue the things that they had grown to love.
Their passions were developed through a cycle of working to reach goals, achieving them, then setting their sights even higher, and continuing upward. And, once committed, they endured the hardships, disappointments, sicknesses, and even assassinations to complete their quests and leave legacies for us to emulate.
Passion, or overwhelming and motivating interest, is more than a token résumé word. Once you find your passion, you’re set for life. It’s as if you have found your calling. Passion has no end. Once discovered, it lasts forever.
Have you ever heard a co-worker or family member exclaim, “I LOVE my job!”? After hearing that positive (and slightly annoying) proclamation, you probably thought hey were full of it because no one can really love his job…right? Considering that this extraordinarily lucky person may actually love his job, you speculate that someone can actually love what he does. Next, you wonder what is wrong with you. Why aren’t you able to find your dream job? Your buddy seems to be passionate about his job. Are you passionate about yours? Do you have passions? The answer is a resounding Yes! Absolutely, yes. You just have to look for them.
Your passions may be hidden. Until you discover and then unlock your strengths, you may not realize that you love something as much as you do. Your passions are innately connected to your naturally occurring strengths. Have you ever asked yourself why you prefer to work in a team rather than work alone? Have you wondered why you’re drawn to accounting? Why is it easy for you to picture the structure of a building in your head while others can’t picture the structure of a house of cards? Have you ever considered that your ability to focus on one thing at a time rather than “multi-tasking” is actually a good thing?
Reframing our minds around our strengths helps us develop our passions. Take a young boy from Austria, for example. He struggled with what his Austrian society thought were valuable tools, namely mathematics. But, one day, as he was riding a bus he had the off-the-wall idea about that bus traveling faster than the speed of light. He decided to pay attention to the things that interested him the most, and ignore those voices saying that he was a dunce, a dolt, and a dummy. Albert Einstein developed his love for physics and science from an early age that towards the end of his illustrious life, he ushered into the modern age the most revolutionary scientific theories since Sir Isaac Newton.
Our passions are within us clamoring to be liberated. Much as Michelangelo described his sculpting as “being able to see the figure in the marble and then working the (marble) to set the sculpture free,” so we must chip away at our fears and insecurities to mine down and release our true passions. The best bits with which to drill, chisel, and sculpt, incidentally, are our own strengths. And the best hammer is the desire we all feel to find out more about who we are as individuals. Discovering our strengths will allow us to uncover more passion to do the things in which we invest our sacred time.
Who knows? Maybe one distant day people will look back at you and group you with history’s greatest. If not, that’s okay. Either way, you will know that your life was spent pursuing the things you loved most of all: Your passions.