Category Archives: Passion

From the Heart, In the Heart—the essence of One Quality Note

A young jazz bass player, a student at Berklee in Boston, posted a facebook status that  a) allowed me to remember again why I do what I do and b) embodied the principle of One Quality Note for me.

Marika was playing background music for a marriage proposal (which in and of itself is a great idea! kudos, young man— and lucky woman!) and she said it put so much in perspective.

What’s Important in Music?

Here’s what she wrote:
Playing my best on my jury or in an audition (or whatever ‘meaningful’ situation) is cool and seems so very important at the time, but it matters most in real life, in moments of the heart… I’ve never played a note more earnestly than when I saw what was going on…

It then occurred to me that I don’t keep at this music thing every day for the sake of being a virtuoso or some musical freak of nature. It’s all so that I can be a part, to the best of my ability, of moments like that.

“Playing My Best Matters Most in Real Life”

Ain’t that the truth!

It doesn’t matter so much, really, in those situations where others are there to judge us. All the accolades and awards in the world mean nothing if, in those real life moments, we detach. Money, awards, accolades, fame—nothing inherently wrong with them. It’s what we value, what is truly important that matters. And at the end of our life, we’ll be more grateful and better for the heart connections we’ve made than for all the hardware we’ve collected. The two are not connected.

The Value of Being Earnest

There can be no faking earnestness. I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate this word a lot lately. I appreciate earnestness. Earnestness has solidness to it and stability. Marika said she’d never played a note more earnestly as when she saw what was going on.

Why? Why would this moment be any more special than another?

When our heart is activated and we can see meaning in a gesture of great love or great significance, we become entrained in that vibration. When we become entrained, the wave, the signature of that vibration, gets bigger. When people in a group are on the ‘same wavelength’ it’s not just a saying; it’s the truth.

If all the musicians in Marika’s group that day also played their earnest best… then imagine the force of that proposal! Magnification times awesome!

Make Every Moment a One Quality Moment

I love that Marika uncovered this stupendous truth: that making one’s best music (or any other ‘thing’) in real life is when it really counts.

My hope, too, is that she and all of us can aspire to live each moment with that same earnestness and attention. It requires attention and presence and understanding the love that is behind whatever is happening.  It requires practice. It requires a willingness to fail, because, well… it’s an aspiration and we have to take small steps towards that idea.

Small Steps

Marika has taken the first step. She recognized a moment when she was fully present to the awesomeness of the moment and was able to act on that presence with full awareness. That, in itself, is brilliant.

Every time we recognize and lean into one of “those” moments. Every time we leave our inner critic and inner chatterer at the curb and bring all of our parts together, we take another small step into that earnestness she spoke of. We can take another step into living our life as One Quality Note.

Beyond the “Follow Your Passion” Paradigm

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?

 

ZESTY ENTHUSIASM
“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

 

Steve Martin

Steve Martin (Photo credit: lincolnblues)

 

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.

 

I’ve Just About HAD it with “Passion”—

Live your passion!

Follow your passion!

Find your passion!

Is it just me or has the word “passion” become cliché? I’ve been listening to Raymond Aaron’s Gold Bar of 100 interviews he’s done (which I’m loving, by the way); I’ve listened to Tony Robbins, to Oprah, to webinars, teleseminars, to audio books. I was reading The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau this morning. They toss of the “P word” like a frisbee for a dog. It’s driving me nuts.

Maybe it’s my upbringing where extremes on either end of the spectrum were actively discouraged. Maybe it’s my inclination to follow the Buddhist injunction to do everything in moderation. But to me, passion is about over-the-top, blind to everything else, extreme emotion.

In fact, the first three definitions of passion? 

  1. strong, barely controllable emotion.
  2. intense sexual love or desire
  3. an outburst of anger

THEN we get to a “strong enthusiasm.”

I went looking for “passions”… I know there are connections to the Bible and found an extraordinary list by Saint Peter of Damaskos, who gathered them from scripture. There are a LOT of them, including (in no particular order)

harshness, malice, greed, gluttony, stupidity, flattery, lack of discrimination,

laziness, dissipation, loquacity, boastfulness, secret eating (and solitary eating),

ignorance of beauty, heartlessness, throttling, and, um, hanging. (good to know)

Good things gone way wrong.

When I hear “you have to follow your passion,” the gut reaction is almost palpable. “Cliché! cliché! Stop with the cliché already!” I want to scream. When things become a cliché… my brain just turns off.. and then I go think.

So, I went looking for quotes on passion, to see what I might be missing. Surely, it can’t be all bad. If so many people are talking about passion, there has to be something to it, doesn’t there?

“Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavours.” W. Eugene Smith

“Passion is the genesis of genius.” Anthony Robbins

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.” Georg Wilhelm Friedrich

“Great dancers are not great because of their techniques; they’re great because of their passion.” Martha Graham

OK, I can handle this. But look…

On all these pages of quotes on passion, there were also other wonderful ways to talk about this curious energy.

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”  Howard Thurman

Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. ” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Huh… “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”…and “Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”

There’s more.

“It isn’t success after all, is it, if it isn’t an expression of your deepest energies?” Marilyn French (author)

“The main thing is to care. Care very hard, even if it is only a game you are playing.”  Billie Jean King

OK, I can get into these.

Don’t ask me what my passion is as I’m likely to throttle you. Ask me (or yourself) instead:

  • what are you good at?
  • how would you spend your day if you didn’t have to worry about money?
  • what did you want to be when you grew up (think back to your 8 year old self)
  • what do people ask you for help with?
  • where do you go first in the bookstore?
  • what kind of seminars, workshops, conferences, or talks pull you in?
  • what do you click through to on facebook?
  • what makes your heart sing and your body tingle?
  • what is an expression of your deepest energies?
  • what do you care very hard about?
  • what are you doing when you lose track of time?

Answering these questions tells me much more than the over-used, over-hyped, over-indulgent “P-word.”

Please….don’t talk to me about Passion. Dig deeper.