Passion: "A strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept; an object of desire or deep interest.1"
Heart: "One's innermost character, feelings, or inclinations.1"
At a recent AASV committee meeting, the group was struggling with how to approach a difficult but important task. A past president of our association said, "Just assign it to someone with a passion for the issue and let them indulge that passion." All the others in the room nodded in agreement.
I have heard it said, "If you want something done, assign it to a busy person." Better yet, assign it to someone with a passion for the job. It will get done and get done right. How do you find what you are passionate about? Listen to your heart!
Rick Warren2, in the book "The Purpose Driven Life," says that another word for heart is passion. He says that passion and the drive to be intensely interested in certain subjects are innate and are truly a gift from God. Warren says, "People rarely excel at tasks they don't enjoy doing or feel passionate about." We all inherently understand this, but at times, we do not listen to our hearts.
What are you passionate about? Sometimes we get lost in the daily grind and fail to listen to our hearts. How do you know if you are listening to your heart and indulging your passion? Warren says the first sign is enthusiasm: "When you are doing what you love to do, no one has to motivate you or challenge you or check up on you. You do it for the sheer enjoyment of it. You do not need rewards or applause or payment, because you love serving in this way. The opposite is also true: when you don't have a heart for what you're doing, you are easily discouraged."
Warren goes on to say that the second sign of someone indulging their passions is effectiveness: "Whenever you do what God wired you to love to do, you get good at it. Passion drives perfection. If you don't care about a task, it is unlikely that you will excel at it. In contrast, the highest achievers in any field are those who do it because of passion, not duty or profit."
During the 1998 Howard Dunne Memorial Lecture,3 Mike Daniel encouraged us to allow our hearts to lead: "Passion comes from the heart. Passion is necessary for success. Passion is necessary for finding true joy in our work." I can still remember an example Mike gave us of a young entrepreneur who was advised by his father to "play with a lot of things until you find something you really enjoy ... make this your life's work and let the money take care of itself." Mike went on to say: "Communicating a vision that captures the energy of others is the single most important responsibility of a leader. Doing this is impossible without a deeply held, genuine passion. We must have "heart" before we start."
Passions are the things that make our hearts sing, that we feel most alive doing, that we eagerly anticipate and dive into with determination and joy. These passions help make life sweeter, more exciting. Sometimes it's difficult to excavate these passions, to take a good look at your inner self and ask what it is that fills your heart with song. Your heart will talk to you ... just listen.
When your passions align with your heart and you do what you love and what you are really good at, happiness, productivity, and contentment will follow. This is when traditional boundaries between work and play begin to blur and disappear. When you really love what you do, your vocation becomes your vacation, and you will never really work a day in your life.
If you need an example to follow, next time you are at an AASV meeting, just look around ... good role models will be everywhere!
1. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Available at www.m-w.com. Accessed May 2, 2004.
2. Warren R. The Purpose Driven Life. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan; 2002:234-240.
3. Daniel M. Howard Dunne Memorial Lecture: Leading in the midst of change. Proc AASP. Des Moines, Iowa. 1998:1-21.