Passion has become a cheap word. I???m starting to roll my eyes when I hear it. But it hasn???t always been this way.
It all started when I read a 2010 post by Siddhartha Herdegen, ???Why You Don???t Need Passion to Be Successful.??? It was the first time I questioned one of my dearly held personal values: passion for my day-to-day work.
For the past year, I???ve been on the admissions committee for the E-Media Division at the University of Cincinnati, and I???ve become numb to students who claim, ???[x] is my passion.???
If true, who cares? Every other student has a passion, too. What matters is how that translates into action. Show me what you???ve done because of your passion. Show me through action that you really mean it and aren???t flirting with it. Show me that you???ve struggled and remained resilient. Show me that you have discipline.
Recently, I ran across this quote:
Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still.
I???ve taught hundreds of students with passion. I teach few students with commitment to do the best work possible.
I think part of the problem is how we define passion, so allow me to introduce Herdegen???s definition:
Passion is a deep connection to an idea, a strong bond which creates a feeling of desire. It contains elements of both commitment and excitement but is not limited to them.
Passion plus commitment is not too common in my experience. More often you find:
- a person with a passion for something but lacking talent (sometimes due to lack of ability to practice for the time required, lack of a mentor, etc.)
- a person with a talent for something without a passion for pursuing it
- a person with either talent or passion but no ability to commit (whether through life circumstance or otherwise)
I run into all of these types???at school, at conferences, in daily conversation.
It seems like the cultural myth these days is that we ought to be pursuing our passion; otherwise we will be unhappy. I???m not so sure that???s true any more. As long as we do work that feels satisfying???that complements our personal values and strengths???we can all do just fine, especially if we have relationships that are also fulfilling and satisfying.
There???s another category of person I haven???t mentioned: those struggling to figure out what their passion is. The questions I then pose are:
- What are you avoiding? (There???s a reason, and don???t feel guilty about it.)
- What activities or interactions do you most look forward to, anticipate, and hope for more of?
- What activities or interactions do you value or prioritize on a daily basis?
- What activities can you get lost in? (Time stops; you???re in the flow.)
The answers might not lead to ???passion??? + ???commitment,??? but I think they help pave the way to a happier life.
10 Steps for Boosting Creativity
by Jeffrey Baumgartner
Johann Sebastian Bach
Listen to music by Johann Sebastian Bach. If Bach doesn’t make you more creative, you should probably see your doctor – or your brain surgeon if you are also troubled by headaches, hallucinations or strange urges in the middle of the night.
Brainstorm. If properly carried out, brainstorming can help you not only come up with sacks full of new ideas, but can help you decide which is best. Click here for more information on brainstorming.
Always carry a small notebook and a pen or pencil around with you. That way, if you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down. Upon rereading your notes, you may discover about 90% of your ideas are daft. Don’t worry, that’s normal. What’s important are the 10% that are brilliant.
If you’re stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word. You’d be surprised how well this works. The concept is based on a simple but little known truth: freedom inhibits creativity. There are nothing like restrictions to get you thinking.
Define your problem. Grab a sheet of paper, electronic notebook, computer or whatever you use to make notes, and define your problem in detail. You’ll probably find ideas positively spewing out once you’ve done this.
If you can’t think, go for a walk. A change of atmosphere is good for you and gentle exercise helps shake up the brain cells.
Don’t watch TV. Experiments performed by the JPB Creative Laboratory show that watching TV causes your brain to slowly trickle out your ears and/or nose. It’s not pretty, but it happens.
Don’t do drugs. People on drugs think they are creative. To everyone else, they seem like people on drugs.
Read as much as you can about everything possible. Books exercise your brain, provide inspiration and fill you with information that allows you to make creative connections easily.
Exercise your brain. Brains, like bodies, need exercise to keep fit. If you don’t exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless. Exercise your brain by reading a lot (see above), talking to clever people and disagreeing with people – arguing can be a terrific way to give your brain cells a workout. But note, arguing about politics or film directors is good for you; bickering over who should clean the dishes is not.
Learn about Anticonventional Thinking (ACT) — a new and effective method for coming up with really creative ideas! Also by Jeffrey Baumgartner
You can now buy 10 Steps for Boosting Your Creativity as a Poster!
It is perfect for the office or the home and makes for a terrific gift.