Happy New Year, and congratulations to those of you who are smart enough to take your break now, when most people are back on board, but there is still that sense of things not being back in full swing.
A few months ago, I was lucky enough to hear the extraordinary Michael Henderson speak. He was sharing an experience he had a while back now, where he looked at his thought leadership, and realized that some of the stuff he had been sharing heartfully all these years, wasn’t necessarily his truth any more. It wasn’t that he had been ‘wrong’; it just kind of morphed into something quite different. At the time, I remember having a feeling that the same thing might happen to me, but wasn’t quite sure what that might be.
A few nights ago, I decided to watch a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame (I have heard critiques of that book along the lines of bagging her as a privileged divorcee with first world problems; do yourself a favour and don’t write her off as a chick lit froth, her work is very profound). In it she shared something about herself that made me feel a bit uncomfortable, because it was something I felt I could too be guilty of…. That is… she realized she was a passion bully! It has definitely created a watershed moment for me around my own crusade and tambourine bashing.
You know what am talking about (and I know there are a few of you out there who are the same); a passion bully goes around saying things like ‘Find your Passion!’, “Don’t tolerate a job where you don’t feel it is absolutely what you were born to do!” , ‘Find a job you love, and you will never have to ‘work’ another day of your life’!!!
The thing about bullies like Elizabeth Gilbert and me, is that prattling on about this kind of stuff can make some people feel decidedly stink. Why? Because they haven’t ‘found their passion’, and more often than not, like the woman who wrote to her after attending one of her keynotes, it is not for lack of trying. They have been searching, they have been open to allowing the passion to enter their lives, but passion so far, hasn’t come knocking!
Are you a jackhammer or a humming bird?
Elizabeth cites a great metaphor, which is the jackhammer vs the humming bird. There are people on the planet who are jackhammers; they discover a passion, which is so intense, that they would work through nights on end, take financial risks and give up almost everything for it.
The hummingbirds on the other hand, are driven by curiosity; they dart from here to there, try a bit of this, try a bit of that, gain some valuable lessons, but don’t necessarily find the flower that intoxicates them, and make all the other flowers pale in comparison (which is of course, a good thing!).
What happened last time you were in a very passionate relationship?
Neither is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; they are just different paths. But Elizabeth asked a question, which I thought, was revealing; think about the last time you were in a massively passionate personal relationship with someone. How did that work out? More often than not, we become a bit of a crazy person, and start making decisions that don’t necessarily serve us, or those close to us. Of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ‘follow our passion’, it just means like everything there are pluses and minuses to each, and neither is right or wrong.
This isn’t the first time I have heard passion being questioned. The wise Mandy Beverley pointed out to me a couple of years ago that the word passion is actually derived from the Latin word ‘passio’, which means suffering or submission.
Maybe it’s a bit like the discussion around healthy eating. One day it’s all about no fat, the next day it’s all about no carb, then the next it’s around no sugar. I will be interested to see how the conversations trend around passion, now that someone as influential as Elizabeth has ‘called’ it.
To anyone who I have offended by ramming some version of passion bullying down your throats; I apologise. Celebrate your curious nature, think of the humming bird, and don’t feel like crap because you haven’t discovered something that you would be prepared to lose nights of sleep over!