"My fear now is of cliche, of complacency, of not being able to feel authenticity in myself and those around me."
The idea that "you should do what you're passionate about" is so common in today's social media, business literature, and self-help resources that it is almost annoying. Let's be honest. "Follow your dreams" is a little cheesy; "pursue your passion" is painfully cliche. Yet, most people still recognize it as true. But do we really understand what that means, or what it requires? Or are we living inauthentically, in pursuit of a cliche we hardly understand?
Our western culture has romanticized the word passion. We typically use it to describe a positive experience. We think about the things that put a twinkle in our eye, a jingle in our head, and a bounce in our step. But as we've romanticized the word, we've also managed to dilute it. We somehow use the word "love" to describe our feelings for hotdogs, our pet hamster, and our spouse. . . all in the same breath.
But let's dig a little deeper. The English word passion is derived from the Latin word passio, which means "suffering." Did anyone ever wonder why the movie was called, The Passion Of The Christ? I admit, I only gave that question a fleeting thought, but I should have known at that point that passion wasn't about romantic feelings and sunshine and rose petals. But I also wasn't ready to accept that passion should make you miserable and lead to your early and unfortunate demise.
Like most other things in our Western world, we have over-processed, sugar-coated, and stripped it of its natural substance and nutritional value. We have made the word "passion" into a manufactured shell of its original self.
Passion is about suffering, about sacrificing . . . for something you deeply believe in.
Passions are those things we love so much that we are willing to endure for them. It comes with pain, commitment, faithfulness, submission, and loyalty. It is not suffering for suffering's sake -- that is sick, immature, and misguided. It is suffering for a purpose you love. Because if you only equate passion with the things that make you happy, then you will quit the second something becomes too hard, or too risky; when you are abandoned or mocked; when you falter, or fail. If you don't care enough about something to endure the pain that comes with it, then it is probably not worth pursuing.
But if you want to live a life of incredible impact and significance, your life's work should be derived from your deepest passions. Think about Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, or Ghandi. They all suffered, but their suffering paled in comparison to their significance. They challenged status quo; they embraced resistance and rejection; they didn't just do what made them happy -- they did what made them great.
This is why the first step to purpose-drive work is to RE-define passion, and then to pinpoint yours.
So what do you love so much that you're willing to do even if it hurts you? Something you are willing to live and die for? To be scorned and rejected for? That is the foundation of your life's work. This is the pulse behind your purpose.
"Nothing great in this world has ever been accomplished without passion."
-George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel