As I was mumbling yesterday about the whole “follow your passion” career illumination theory, I went poking around for other words that might work better. Words are important. We need to use the right ones and I was saying that I didn’t think “passion” was the right one. So.. what did I come up with?
“Enthusiasm” came up in several of the quotes that I listed in the post. “Zest” was another one. Both were interesting and have possibilities— and limits.
Enthusiasm was originally connected to religious fanaticism, but it’s more common contemporary use is for “strong excitement or feeling.” It can refer to ardour, zeal, fervour, ambition, alacrity, obsession, eagerness, and yes, passion. It can also refer to a short-term enthusiasm or buzz— a one-hit wonder, or cultural blip in popularity.
OK, helpful and needed. One must have SOME modicum of enthusiasm for one’s work, wouldn’t you say?!
Zest and other food-related words seem to have more oomph! Other than the lemon zest variety, listen to these wonderful foodie words that have migrated to describe “an enjoyably exciting quality.” Piquant, relish, gusto, zing… and then… keen, invigoration, stimulation and thrill. (thanks, Merriam-Oxford Dictionary)
I’ve focused on these words for a bit because, really, the words we use are important. The foodie words above certainly give us bright shiny images in our imagination. While imagination is mucho importante, I’m still not convinced.
We toss “passion” around so flippantly. I wonder if it’s become so popular because it immediately grabs us by the gut and pokes at our emotional centre. These words are evocative and who doesn’t like to evoke a provocation?
“Passion” has a flame to it. And if people are sitting on their laurels, pining after their dream job, then, maybe lighting a fire underneath them is a good start.
But then what? As one reader here pointed out, passion burns out. The reader was commenting on relationships and expecting fireworks all the time, which was not my point at all, but it’s pretty hard to stay full steam ahead merely on a hotly lit match. Something else is required.
STEVE MARTIN TO THE RESCUE
We all need a little Steve Martin in our lives!
One reader posed a link to an article on <a href=”an excerpt from Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.” title=”Steve Martin’s Advice” target=”_blank”>lifehacker in an excerpt from Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.
And there—well, a start. SKILLS! And then ACTION! This SHOULD be a blinding flash of the obvious, but it isn’t. Maybe if we said, “Act on your passion,” it might help. It could also get someone killed (as in “crime of passion). In any case, the big problem with the phrase “follow your passion” is that you can follow it all day, over hill and dale, to the far reaches of the earth and over the rainbow, but unless you grab the darn thing and DO something about building the skills that will make you valuable and useful, it’s a useless, nay wasteful pursuit.
Steve Martin’s advice was to “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You.”
And being so good that “they” can’t ignore you requires work. The day-to-day kind of work that we all hate at times. As any successful person will tell you, it’s the daily grind of showing up and doing what you don’t really feel like doing all the time. And doing it over and over and over and…
Well, it’s a start. I’ve kind of got the “P-word” problem resolved, at least in my head, but I know there’s more.
Still need to focus myself on what I’m to do with the next part of my life, though! More later. In the meantime, I’ve absorbed all the time I’ve allotted for this little passion… have to go act on the list of other things on the list that inspire zeal, fervour, eagerness and zing in me today.
Comments welcome! We really need to sort this thing out so more of us can get our butts in gear (and our ‘buts’ out of the way) to make this world work better.