Following the elusive creature that is passion
A few years ago I attended a presentation by John C. Maxwell, international leadership guru. You don’t sell 19 million books without being entertaining, and the guy was great. I remembered only one of his X-number of prescription points for leadership, but I think it was probably the most important one. It was basically, “Make sure you’re passionate about your work, or you’ll never truly reach your potential.”
He wasn’t saying to develop some false passion for your work, but to work in fields where you already have a passion. I believe in that concept, but my income comes from my skill-set in project management/technical writing. Whereas, my passion is patient/parent advocacy and creative writing. I’ve been blessed to blend my skills in the former to serve the latter, but other than my modest book advance, I’ve never made a penny for myself on my true passion. I have employed my skills/passion combo to raise tens of thousands of dollars for research and advocacy, and that fulfills me deeply.
It’s unlikely that I could follow my passion for a living. Even if a nonprofit that served my constituency offered me a paying job, the pay cut from corporate to nonprofit would harm the stability of my family and our long term plans for educations and retirement. So, until I can retire from the “work” to follow the “passion” full time, which won’t happen for close to thirty years, I do my best to stay engaged and effective at my day job to provide time and opportunities to facilitate my passion.
In the meantime, I’m writing my second and third book and exploring opportunities for the two nonprofits I founded as a volunteer. Besides being a mom and a wife, with my full time paying job, my advocacy work and writing feel like jobs #3 and #4, but it’s ok. Following my passion gives me the fuel to do the work that pays the bills, and that work keeps my mind sharp and flexible to find creative ways to solve bigger problems. This attitude and approach helps me transform perceived obstacles into springboards. It’s a win-win, and even if my attention is frequently fractured by so many obligations, I think that the grounding force of my day job makes me prioritize my passions in the most productive way.
What is your passion, and how do you move through the other obligations in your life to make time for it?