We were born to be hero’s. As a boy I can remember wielding a plastic sword to fight monsters, hiding from dragons in a cave made of blankets, and having stick battles with my brother for the fate of the world. As we get older we get involved in sports, but even then we fantasize about taking (and making) that last second shot, or hitting the game winning home run in the World Series. We want to accomplish something great, to have it matter that we lived.
Still, so many of us come to find out that the world doesn’t want hero’s – no for the most part it wants to strip mine us for the talents it wants and discard the rest. Hero’s need not apply. Yet the desire never dies, even if the dream does. We compensate by turning inward thinking the world doesn’t need us, so we ask ourselves, “what do I need?” , “what do I want to do?”, “what is my passion?”.
LIVE YOUR PASSION?
We often hear about people “living their passion”. I like the idea, but what does that even mean? What I’ve found is that there’s a lot of confusion about it. Authors, bloggers, and speakers seem to have all kinds of different ideas and most seem to be a little too ambiguous and confusing to be practically useful.
People that sell this “live your passion” gospel seem to be disregarding an important aspect of what makes life worth living. Living your passion isn’t always great advice. Don’t believe me? Consider that lots of people are passionate about horrible things; serial killers for example. Another more lighthearted example is the myth of Sisyphus. The god’s compelled him to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down again, and to repeat this action forever. Homer thought it was the ultimate story of futility and meaninglessness, and therefore an ideal punishment from the god’s. No, simply living your passion doesn’t make you a hero or make it matter to the larger world that you took a breath on this earth. Passion alone is selfish and will not fulfill you.
On another note I have often wondered whether Sisyphus was simply passionate about pushing rock’s up hills or if instead he hated pushing the rock but had the irresistible urge to get it to the top. Reading the tale I’m inclined to believe the latter – but the point is that they are not the same. The struggle and the goal are different – they are separate. There is what we do and there is what we do it for. I believe that we ultimately desire two things; the passion to do what we love for a cause we strongly believe in.
SO WHAT’S MISSING? THE CALL.
CALLING IS NOT PASSION! This is the major problem with the current conceptualizations of passion – they think it’s the same thing. Passion is internally driven, calling is external. Passion is something we really like to do, an activity we love to engage in and that we allow to define us in some way. Calling is separate. It is something that we direct our passion towards. It’s what makes our passion worthwhile. If passion is about what we want then calling is about what others need. The secret is about matching these two up.
A knight would be nothing without a battle, and a leader nothing without a cause. LeBron James is passionate about basketball, but would it be enough for him to play it in a playground on some street corner? No. He needs the battle – the cause of an NBA championship.
There’s a lot more to this story, but I’ll leave it at that since this is basically my doctoral research and a book I’ve been writing. For now it’s an idea I want to present for others to consider. What do you think?
(P.S. If you are interested in providing in-depth feedback on this topic please let me know. I’m currently collecting both qualitative and quantitative data as part of the preliminary research process. I’m particularly interested in talking with people who have a sense that they are living out their passion and have found their calling)