Lately I wince at the word “passion”.
I know it’s important. I know it’s something I feel towards certain areas of my life. But as I’ve written before, I am also scared when people think it’s what will carry them through any and all difficulties. You know those people, who feel that if they could just keep chasing the dream job it will come to them, and they will “never have to work a day in their life.”
Some of you may know Ryan from his most recent books titled “The Obstacle Is the Way”, “Ego Is the Enemy”, or “The Daily Stoic”. They have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and are world-renowned for being some of the most impactful philosophy books of our generation. I read everything he puts out on his blog.
Passion typically masks a weakness. Its breathlessness and impetuousness and franticness are poor substitutes for discipline, for mastery, for strength and purpose and perseverance. You need to be able to spot this in others and in yourself, because while the origins of passion may be earnest and good, its effects are comical and then monstrous. Passion is seen in those who can tell you in great detail who they intend to become and what their success will be like—they might even be able to tell you specifically when they intend to achieve it or describe to you legitimate and sincere worries they have about the burdens of such accomplishments. They can tell you all the things they’re going to do, or have even begun, but they cannot show you their progress. Because there rarely is any.”
Personally, I have been passionate to the point of crippled many times in my life. And every time I attend a fitness industry event as I did last weekend, filled with tons of millennials with cameras and phones out documenting the process and aiming to gain their next fifteen subscribers and followers, I see it all again.
No plan, no vision, just photos with each other for cross promotions to get the likes, shares, and comments. They claim passion, but bleed desperation.
Luckily, some of us will come out the other side with a deliberate approach on how to actually create a business or movement. Or at very the least, set up a course of action that actually leads towards a life more similar to our well-constructed ideal situation. Unfortunately, most of those kids will not.
In our endeavors, we will face complex problems, often in situations we’ve never faced before. Opportunities are not usually deep, virgin pools that require courage and boldness to dive into, but instead are obscured, dusted over, blocked by various forms of resistance. What is really called for in these circumstances is clarity, deliberateness, and methodological determination.
But too often, we proceed like this . . .
A flash of inspiration: I want to do the best and biggest ______ ever. Be the youngest ______. The only one to ______. The “firstest with the mostest.”
The advice: Okay, well, here’s what you’ll need to do step by step to accomplish it.
The reality: We hear what we want to hear. We do what we feel like doing, and despite being incredibly busy and working very hard, we accomplish very little. Or worse, find ourselves in a mess we never anticipated.”
I’m not sure where I first heard this little saying, but I share it on Twitter quite a bit because it sparks a pleasant reminder that I need to hear often:
We must never mistake movement for achievement.
Most people are doing a whole lot of things every day that might feel good but are not worth the time. If the task is not part of some strategy towards a calculated end, it’s a back step. A step, indeed, but in the wrong direction.
Create focus. Eliminate fluff. Put in the time.
Passion is a feeling, not an end goal or solution.