Rethinking Passion: What it is and how to get it

There’s only one that strikes more fear in the heart of graduating high school seniors than even “Final Exams”. And that is “Follow Your Passion“. There are those that have no clue as to what they want to be. Many who do know what they plan to be, doubt themselves. “If this is what I’ve chosen to become, then why don’t I feel passionate?

You’re not some inadequate loser for not knowing what your passion is or being passionate about whatever path you’ve chosen to pursue.

People take passion to mean different things seemingly all at the same time. Hence the confusion. Is it a profession? Is it a purpose? Is it a calling? Is it a cause? Is it a feeling? Is it a description? What is it? Truth is, most that use the term aren’t sure. Here are three ways to rethink passion:

It Is Not Found

The biggest fallacy is that passion is something that you should be able to simply find. Society suggests that finding a passion coincides with deciding on a profession. No more than simply deciding on what to eat nourish you. Deciding on a profession is not going to make you feel passionate about it. The chosen profession can become your passion…

It Can Be Developed

On Adam Grant’s Worklife podcast, Angela Duckworth, passion is a consequence of effort. She went on to say that finding (or following) a passion reflects a fixed mindset. Whereas developing a passion demonstrates a growth mindset. Just as a flywheel develops momentum the more effort is put into spinning it. Passion can be developed for the chosen profession given enough effort that leads you toward mastery. Don’t bother following some phantom passion that isn’t usually going to be there fully baked and ready for the taking. Instead, follow your curiosity to develop your passion.

It Can Find You

Another way to obtain passion is through suffering. This reflects more of the original meaning of the word. You see this often with people who find themselves taking up a cause greater than themselves. It’s either due to a tragedy that brings personal suffering. It can also be to alleviate suffering in others.

Ask Scott Harrison, the guy behind Charity: Water, whether or not he followed anything before finding the cause for which he gladly suffers. How about Candace Lightner? The day before a drunk driver killed her daughter, did she have any plans of devoting her life to this cause? No, it found her.

Don’t believe the fairy tail hype that society wants us to buy around passion. It’s not something that we can select off a shelf. Like ore, we must work mine it and refine it through focused and disciplined effort. Passion can also materialize through the combination of your anger and love due to witnessing suffering. So what are willing to suffer for? Don’t know? That’s okay. Just live a curious life and either you’ll develop one (or two or three before it’s all said and done) or one will find you.