When people hear the word “passion” they primarily think of artists or athletes. If they are more flexible than most, they might also note that many entrepreneurs, teachers, and scientists are also motivated by passion.
Those are legitimate passions. But the fact that those examples exist, does not mean that there are no other forms of passion.
Some of those forms of passion will be far more glamorous than others, but that’s fine, because we’re not here to be impressive to others. We’re here to find where we each ‘fit’ so that we can live rewarding lives.
Lets use ‘Beth’ as an example. She grew up as the daughter of a Dad that owned a string of fast food franchises, and her mother ran a jewellery wholesaler she’d inherited. Her parents were in business, they had nice offices downtown, they wore business attire, so that’s how Beth saw her future too.
Once college was over she bought some power suits and she set out to get some experience being a corporate executive. She didn’t enjoy that, so she looked for a franchise to buy and she tried being like her parents. She tried to like all the weird parts of being a franchise entrepreneur.
And it wasn’t that she couldn’t do it. She was just forever procrastinating because she didn’t really care. She didn’t feel above the work, or that it was lacking in any way. She just never felt motivated. She and her parents started to wonder if she was just lazier than her parents.
Assuming she needed external motivation, she stopped being an entrepreneur and went back to corporate work. Unfortunately, her job interviews were hard on her self esteem. There was often hundreds of people applying for the one position. Just being remembered was difficult.
At one particular interview they concluded that she was not a good fit for the job as advertised. But rent was due, so she could not afford the identity of a defeated job seeker. She needed the money too badly, so her identity was that she was desperate.
While waiting for the interview, she had noted that their storage room was in shambles. She offered to organize it for $500. That was something the manager knew was slowing their whole office down, so she agreed. Beth was relieved to make the $500.
Being naturally compelled to organize things, Beth made their storage room into the same logical, focused, efficient space her own home was. They loved it. The manager of the company asked if Beth would also organize her garage. Needing the money, Beth agreed.
Throughout this time, Beth is simply solving her immediate problem by moving toward what makes sense to the person she is in that moment –which is a broke person who needs the $500 (or the $1000 for a garage).
Of course, being naturally anal retentive, she blows away the manager with the garage organization. It’s so impressive, and her neighbour is so impressed with Beth’s obsessed-person’s work ethic, that he ends up having Beth organize his garage as well. And then she just keeps getting jobs thanks to word-of-mouth.
None of these are hard jobs for Beth. She’s spent most of her life making people angry with her incessant need for precision and organization. She’s generally saw it as her weakest trait; the one that people disliked her most for.
That is to say, some people disliked her for it. But other friends loved her as is, and her clients were essentially paying to let her ‘crazy’ nature loose in their garages.
Of course today there are no power suits, and she drives a truck not a BMW. But she now runs three crews, she’s making great money, and her work never feels like work because when she opens her clients garage doors, she has a compulsion to organize them and she ‘works’ (read: is herself) until the compulsion goes away.
So Beth thought she was a business person in an office, then an entrepreneur who owned a franchise. Then she thought she was a failed entrepreneur, and then a failed job applicant. Then she thought she desperate to take the storage room job, but the desperation led to the creation of her company.
Now Beth is a successful entrepreneur with a thriving company, yet she never feels like she’s working because she is always doing what she is compelled to do, which is organize. It’s still a trait some people don’t like about her. But others love her for it, because they need things organized but they don’t feel her compulsion to be do it. (They have their own compulsions.)
If we go back in time to the Beth that wanted to be an entrepreneur like her parents, she does not want to start the garage organization firm because she sees herself working downtown in a suit. She does not think the other identity is ‘hers.’
Beth headed toward the part of her identity –being an entrepreneur– but she was like Michelangelo. She had only found part of her angel in the stone. She needed to remove more stone. And so her old job got to painful and she left.
Then she applied for more jobs and failed, and that ground more stone off the angel underneath. Then she was poor and desperate. And that led her to reach out to grab the only thing available. All of that suffering helped shape the angel too. Because it led Beth to the job she would not have otherwise taken without all of that previous unpleasant experience.
Her ego led her on that journey because it was confused about what was at the heart of her soul. It thought she was her outside self; she thought she was what she appeared to be to others –an entrepreneur.
But what Beth learned is that, at her core, she is someone who is compelled to organize, and flowing with her natural impulses –the very ones she was often criticized for– took that quality from being her greatest weakness to her greatest strength.
Only looking backwards can Beth see how sensible her route to owning her successful company was. She needed the setbacks as much as the successes. And Beth’s life is an example of what Kierkegaard meant when he said that life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards.
So if you want to know where you belong, don’t imagine someone great who you would like to become. Instead, find your own sense of confidence and greatness within, and become the great person you have always been.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.