Finding The Answer
As I have searched myself and helped others along toward the answer to this “burning” question, I find it is important to know at least three things:
1) What is passion? Or to put it another way, “What exactly are we looking for?”
2) Where does passion come from? Or “Where do we go to find this passion?”
3) How do we get this passion? Or once at the source “How do we take ownership of what we have found?”
To begin our search, we will start at #1 – we have to know what we are looking for. We have to know what passion is.
But that pursuit can be a little muddied. Here is how one business coach put it:
We often talk about passion, but we tend to use it very loosely. We usually refer to passion in passing – it is rarely the primary focus of discussion or analysis. I am just as guilty of this. A couple of months ago, I posted a manifesto for passionate creatives and never explicitly defined what I meant by passion. In talking with people about this manifesto, I discovered that passion has an infinite variety of meanings.
Defining Our Search
Without clear definition, we see the word “passion” thrown around more and more these days. Just search the phrase “A passion for….” and here is some of what you find:
- A passion for jazz
- A passion for pipes
- A passion for paws
Then there are companies that use this word in their motto or slogan:
- Our passion is building
- Our passion is excellence
- Our passion is engineering
It seems that almost anything can be an object of passion and we are left even more confused.
So What Is Passion?
Look up the word and you find that, in a broad sense, passion is any strong emotion. More specifically, passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something. Very specifically, some people would limit this emotion to a strong love or sexual desire.
My definition of passion is a little broader:
The emotional response to an attainable object of pleasure or desire that moves the possessor to pursue that object
There are several key words
- emotional response – Passion is not self-existing. Passion comes from the presence of something or someone else
- attainable object of pleasure or desire – Passion comes from seeing something I can obtain, possess, interact, engage with that is pleasurable. Hence the desire.
- that moves the possessor to pursuit – Passion is an intense and moving emotion. Passion energizes.
In this light, there is another aspect of passion that is important to consider when you are looking for your passion.
The English word passion comes from Middle English, Old French, and Medieval Latin to describe Christ’s sufferings on the cross or any biblical acconts of these. From there, passio in Late Latin came to be used for suffering and submission.
With this in mind, Barb Elyet says this about passion
On the surface, the word “passion” can stir emotions in us that inspire, motivate, and elevate us to live life at a higher, more exciting, fulfilling level. But just as the core of an apple cannot be separate from the apple itself, “suffering” is always at the core of passion. We cannot have one without the other.
Will Shipley, designer of Delicious Library, says this about passion –
“Passion is easy to define; you care so deeply about something that it wounds you if it’s done poorly.”
Here we find what we are looking for, this definition of passion – something we want, very deeply that moves us to pursuit and wounds us when not achieved. Wounds but not deters. Passion may bring suffering but it also empowers us to press on – to persevere in our pursuit, as long as we see it as attainable.