Passion is what fuels the best of what we do. It’s that tireless drive to do something that we feel matters that will bring us forward in so many ways. Whitney is passionate about helping parents understand (and feel more comfortable with) learning disabilities. Jon is passionate about connecting with communities to provide spiritual guidance and observations from simple life. Gary Vaynerchuk is passionate about wine in ways that startle first time observers of his show. A key to your success in life is to find and enhance this same passion.
Passion Is Rarely Aligned With What’s Popular
A bunch of years back, I talked to Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos. They’re calling themselves a jazz band, but they do New Orleans style swing jazz. When Swing hit really hard in the US, they rode the wave, but they’d been doing swing for YEARS before folks came out to see them. Now that the wave passed, they’re still doing what they’re passionate about, and it still sounds great.
If you’re in the current wave, ride it, and that’s cool. But don’t seek out something to do based on the wave. My best advice in this regard is that sometimes that which you’re passionate about can be made to align with what’s currently interesting to the world. But don’t fake it. It just won’t last, and your own brand will suffer along the way.
Passion is Hard to Fake
Authenticity matters. Most people can sense authenticity without a lot of effort. They can also sense when you’ve one astray from what truly matters to you. So be true to your passion. And here’s a thought on that: if you suddenly are very much NOT passionate about something, think about moving on to that which does have your passion and attention. I’ve certainly changed what matters to me over the years. I was VERY into fitness and nutrition in 2004. You can go back on my blog archives and see me talking about the right mix of carbs and protein, when to hydrate, etc. Back in 1997, I wrote passionately about writing fiction. Don’t fake passion. Move on.
Sometihng to think about here: it’s okay to move on from what you were passionate about, even if that’s what defined your entire brand. You can seek a sideways move that shows a tangent back to your passion, or you can start over again. It seems daunting, but it will pay off in the end.
Passion Includes Mistakes and Failures
Never worry about doing something wrong, going afoul, pissing people off. Don’t SEEK to do it, but don’t be afraid of it. How can you create passionately if you’re worried about going outside the lines. Make mistakes all over the place. Don’t TRY to hurt people’s feelings, and most especially, admit when you’re wrong, apologize, try to be friends again, and keep going. I seem especially skilled in pissing friends off. My friend, Christopher S. Penn has said many times over the last year, “We have to take Brogan everywhere twice. The second time is to apologize.” He’s right.
But with people, you try really hard to rebuild where you step on toes, piss people off, etc. With business, if your passions hurt something, try to recover and see where it all goes.
Life doesn’t have a do-over button, and you learn really quickly who gets mired in the past and who’s focused on making the experience of the present and future better. Focus on those who understand the latter. History is there to learn from, but not to obsess over. Make mistakes. Apologize. Repeat. And grow from your passion.
Passion Means Helping Others See It
I guess you can be wildly passionate without sharing, but what’s the fun in that? I tell people when I speak at events that I want their guidance and input because if I wanted to just talk with myself, I can do that any day of the week. Passion is best expressed when it’s shared with others.
Want to see someone really passionate? Talk to Michael Smolens about dotSUB, his translation project/software. Michael brings you into his frame of reference, whether or not you were even talking about language. Talk to Jeff Pulver for more than 10 minutes and see if you don’t land on any one of Jeff’s 3,891,774 passion land mines. The man is FUELED by passion.
Share your passion liberally. Be the C.C. Chapman of your own passions! This man makes shows and shows and shows and blogs and more shows about what drives him, what turns him on, what matters. Emulate C.C. and you won’t be too far off.
Passion Requires Work and Thought
There’s a really important point to consider: just talking about things all the time isn’t exactly the same thing. You’ve gotta get in there. You’ve got to try things, experiment, do new things, work with others, HELP others, and share your thoughts and ideas then. Suggest new things, and then see if you can try them out. Work on something in the lab, and then show it to the world outside. Know who has a cool lab? Bill Cammack. Experiment, do new things. Try stuff.
I’m trying AttentionUPGRADE to try out new video technology (and Seesmic, and Facebook video, etc). I’m trying Utterz to use audioblogging. I experiment all the time, with the hopes of finding new ways social media can help people and organizations. My new gig will have tons of that built right in. Only way more geeky. (I’m looking forward to using virtual machines again).
Passion Isn’t a “Me Too” Game
There’s only one Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots. Believe me, I’ve heard this man during three different Superbowl victory conversations talk about what his team could’ve done differently to make the game even better. He says it with love of his team, and with a drive to hold them responsible for what they’re doing out there. Bill believes that his duty to his team is to keep them focused on playing the best game they can place. You RARELY see him smile. And yet, you know he’s passionate in ways humans rarely exhibit.
Be yourself all the way to the core. And trust that what’s unique and inherent in you is what people will want and why they’ve sought you out in the first place. Finding your own unique notes is tricky, and takes a little bit of work, but once you get those notes, play them loud and proud.
I’m a really big fan of cover songs. (And if you like them, subscribe to Coverville. Why do I love cover songs? Because it’s amazing when artists play someone else’s song in THEIR style. I love it. Don’t be a cover band because you’re not original. Play covers because they show off your uniqueness against someone else’s original style.
Engage People With Your Passions
How do you reach out to people and talk about your passions? How does your business or vocation allow you to express your passions? Have your passions ever given you a job? (They did for Jeffrey Glasson). What are the ways you’re building your brand around your passion?
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