“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire” – Unknown
Are you a person who has always had a clearly defined “passion” in your life, whether it be your life’s work or a hobby? Perhaps you have an interest that excites you so much you’re always talking about it, you’re happiest when you’re doing it, and you always make sure you have time in your day to devote to it. Does this sound like YOU?
Or are you a person who has gone through life and made choices for your career based on what you are good at, where you can get a job to make money to live, or what you felt has been best for you and the others in your life you care for? Does this sound like YOU?
It does sound like ME! At least that’s what I thought until recently when I did some serious reflection. Now I believe I followed my passion more than I ever thought. Here is a little of my story.
My Story – Where’s the Passion?
I graduated high school in 1968 and went on to college. I made the decision to major in Math mainly because I was good at it. I selected a college based on the programs offered and the school that offered the best financial aid package – never once did I stop to think whether I liked the campus, had a “good feeling” about it, or felt I fit in. I ended up at a private college in Michigan because I got a scholarship, a National Defense Loan, and a job on campus where I worked 20-30 hours a week. The fact of the matter was, I hated college, I didn’t fit in with most of the people there, and I couldn’t wait to graduate and leave. The best thing about college was meeting two of my dearest friends.
My goal was to major in math and get a secondary teaching certificate. In the 60s, teachers were scarce, jobs were plentiful, and teaching was a great job for a female. Plus, I was good at teaching. I didn’t have to pay the interest on my loan if I taught for 5 years after I graduated. Most decisions in my life were made based on what I was good at, what was available, and where I could get a job and make money.
I did graduate with a major in Math and got my secondary teaching certificate. Unfortunately, I had a terrible student teaching experience so I never taught. I got a job as a Rate Analyst for Consumers Power Company in Jackson Michigan. A few years later, I got my masters in Computer Science because my neighbor said that was the new field where all the good jobs would be. In addition, I got a fellowship in Computer Science that paid fully for my tuition. Decision made!
Up to this point in my life, I don’t recall ever being asked “what are you passionate about?” or giving 2 seconds of my time to the topic. We just never talked about it.
Are Younger Generations More Passionate about Life?
My husband and I have always told our daughters to focus their life’s work on what they like to do. When our girls made choices based on their passions (music and dance), we always supported them even though we knew that perhaps they would have a harder time finding a job or paying their rent!
I never thought about passion when it came to making decisions about my career. Neither did my husband. We never talked about your passions. Right now I am writing this and tears are sort of welling up in my eyes. Not because I am sad about not focusing on my passion, but because I am so thankful for the wonderful life I have had with my husband. These are happy tears.
Fast forward 46 years later to 2015 – I am now retiring. As part of my separation from Avon, I am offered 9 months of coaching to help me transition to retirement. What is the first question I am asked? Of course, it’s “What are you passionate about?” “When in your career or your life were you the happiest?” I’m told to focus my retirement on my passion. At 65, I was finally thinking about passion for myself.
Are Creative People More Passionate About Life?
Even after answering those questions and starting a business focused on what I thought were my recently discovered passions, I was always listening to people who described how they followed their passions their entire life. Many of these people were the creatives – artists, writers, etc. So, I thought, well, maybe I’m just not that passionate as I’m a left-brained individual and never thought of myself as creative. Perhaps passion has more to do with being creative.
Are Women More Passionate About Life?
Recently, an attendee of a women’s leadership workshop I was facilitating challenged me on the word “passion”. She said that having passion for your work resonated more with females than males. She was adamant that males don’t consider passion when they decide on their life’s work. She said discussing “passion” in the context of your career is such a “soft” word – males would not relate. She advised us to use a more masculine word. My workshop partner and I were just as adamant that males thought about passion as much as females when considering their life’s work.
What I’ve Learned So Far
I’ve been thinking about my passion for a few weeks now. I’ve discussed it with close friends, family, and especially my husband. I’ve discussed it with my workshop partner, Dena Davis, who is a leadership coach, an amazing friend/mentor and a passionate creative. I did an informal survey of the men in my life – almost unanimously they have said passion is gender neutral. I’ve read articles. I have to share this article from Sir Richard Branson – who says men don’t think about passion in business?
After reflection, I’m now thinking about “passion” in my life very differently. Maybe I did make decisions based on what I loved. Read Part 2 to find out!
Why Do You Think Some People Seem to be More Passionate than Others about their Work?
Now I want to hear what you have to say about passion in your life and your work.
Do you feel passion comes more naturally to some people than to others?
Do you think people of all generations looked for passion in their work?
Are right-brained creative people more passionate than left-brained analytical people?
Are women more focused on finding passion in their work life than men?
Ok – now it’s you turn to share….What are your experiences?
Have You Found the Passion in Your Life? (Part 2)
“More on My Discovery of Passion in My Work”