What could possibly be wrong with Passion?
Passion is what drives great exploits and achievements. Passion is what we long for in our work-life, hobbies and relationships - right?
Could there really be a downside to passion?
Passion & Balance are flip sides of the same coin.
We want to have zeal, passion and thrills in our life but we also know that a balanced lifestyle is key to our overall happiness and wellbeing in the same way that a balanced diet is the key to health.
I am passionate about a lot of things. It is one of my signature strengths.
I promote and support passion - both as a life coach, helping people to get more in touch with what matters most to them AND in schools and universities helping young people to channel their youthful energies into projects that make them come alive and change the world in the process!!
I am fiercely passionate about education and perpetually annoyed about how our mainstream, insipid institutions seem intent on sucking the life out of our young people! (Grrrr!)
Yet, it is because I am sooo familiar with passion - I recognise the unique challenges that creative, passionate people face everyday:
1 - Passion can consume you.
Passion is a beautiful thing but it is an intoxicating elixir!
It doesn't matter if it is a hobby, your business or even a partner or family member - if your passion drives you to skip meals, skip sleep or skip out on any other aspect of life you need to live a balanced lifestyle - your passion is out of balance. The 'honeymoon period' is often what we refer to as a time when we become consumed by a single passion and oblivious to all else. It is wonderful! - and unsustainable.
Life is meant to be a blend of wondrous and exciting - but also bland and peaceful!
Life is a mashed up smorgasbord of experiences and that is the healthiest and most satisfying way to partake of all it has to offer. The key word is variety.
You will be disappointed and unfulfilled if you sacrifice all else on the altar of your passion.
Your passion must serve you - not consume you.
2 - Passion comes at a cost.
We love the hero's story. One who gives all to achieve a dream. We love to worship this characteristic in our athletes and other successful people. They dedicate their lives to a cause, a pursuit or a goal - no matter the cost. You have to respect that.
But stand on the other side for a moment. How does it feel to be the child of a high flying businessman or woman?
[Rich! - says the heckler in the back row)
Don't kid yourself.
Wealth is only measured in commodities that are rare to us.
That child, as grateful as she may be for what her father/mother provides, will still long deeply for the part of her that is left empty.
How does it feel to be the wife of Pablo Picasso? Or Woody Allen?
Before you pursue a goal, you must get vividly clear on what are your fundamental values?
What matters most to you and those you care about?
When you know this you can make a conscious choice to make the sacrifice - or not.
3 - Passion can create a mono-culture.
Mainstream farming practices these days follow the industrial model of specialisation. It is done this way because of the inherent efficiencies that can be achieved by doing one thing over and over very well. You make savings in many ways through economies of scale.
Where you often loose out is pest and disease control. (Enter insecticides and herbicides...)
Mono-cultures never happen in nature. Whenever there is a mono-culture, nature seeks to balance it out.
So if you grow miles and miles of fruit trees - then, guess what? You are inviting fruit flies, birds, bats and anything else that likes free fruit to come and do what comes naturally... aaaand destroy your crop!
It is the same with passion.
If we allow our lives to become a mono-culture of just one thing, nature will seek to balance us out.
Loneliness. Dis-satisfaction. Stress. Loosing the enjoyment of something you once loved... these are all natural side-effects that thrive in the mono-culture of an unbalanced lifestyle.
*Pssst: if you are feeling any of these things - don't try to mask it with medication or alcohol or more work - these are like spraying the crop of your life with chemicals! Ask yourself; "What is this emotion telling me? What is out of balance?
Lifestyle Design is about protecting the ecology of your future.
4 - Passion doesn't always equal productivity
When you find something that is 'you' - something that makes your heart beat faster and your eyes get wider just when you think of it, you know you have found a passion. That passion IS a key to getting into 'flow' - a heighten state of performance and productivity. I help my clients to get the most out of their strengths and passions using short bursts of focused attention BUT it also very important to know when to walk away. Training your mind for maximum creativity and productivity is like training an endurance athlete. There is a time to push - and there is a time to know when to stop and regroup. The push gives you greater mental and emotional stamina for the next time you need it, but you are never producing your best work in the 'push' state.
Ever had an assignment or work problem that needs to be finished and you have been flowing along nicely but now you've lost your mojo and can't seem to get your words right? It's tempting to just push to the end.
Don't get me wrong, there is something to be said for 'grit' and 'hustle' but as you know, I'm a big fan of working SMARTER NOT HARDER. There is a time when walking away and finding another passion or connecting with your partner or family or running a few kilometres is simply the best thing you can do - not just for your own health and wellbeing but it really is the best thing for your mind and whatever it is you are trying to achieve.
Albert Einstein, whenever he had a problem he couldn't solve used to paddle his rowboat out into the middle of the lake and just look up at the clouds.
I am working on a book this year. It's going to be called "Passion Based Learning"
I know what you're thinking - "Fantastic, the education sector needs another methodology with the acronym PBL - Yay!!!!" (Or maybe not?)
Passion IS a key ingredient for our success. I believe we need to cultivate it and give it opportunity for expression.
I also believe we must master our passions and learn the art of balance as we grow.
Be sure that your passion is serving you and not controlling you.
Let your sense of wellbeing be the guide. Be mindful of yourself.
When you learn to relish in the joy of your passions AND embrace all the other facets of your life with balance and gratitude - knowing they are serving your ultimate happiness - THEN you will enjoy (and succeed in) your passion more than ever before!
Andrew Lord is a Dad, Designer, Educator and Lifestyle Coach.
He has helped hundreds of people 'Design their Future' and take smarter steps toward getting exactly what they want out of life.
He can help you too.