Diving into to life.

How do I find my passion
Photo from my friend Libby Williams

I’ve been struggling a bit lately.

Having just come off a long stretch of helping craft and co-author a book called The Passion Conversation, I have that sort of post angst that comes from hitting a huge milestone and finishing a fun project. It was remarkable to be able to think so intently about something I care so deeply about.

Writing for this new book actually caused me to stop and really think about my own passions, my own calling. Am I really following my passions? Oh, I have plenty that I’m passionate about.

Seeking happiness and bringing it to myself and others. Simplifying life. Living peacefully.

Somehow over the years I have learned that those pursuits make me happiest.

But sometimes I still wonder. Am I really following my passions? Is there more?

My kids are college and shortly after college age. If you have kids that age (and therefore know a bunch of kids that age) you know they get told often to follow their passions. At graduation time that’s often the advice some very wise and wonderful people hand out freely and with certainty. I’ve most likely given that same advice myself a time or two.

But what if you don’t have a passion? Yet…

I heard this NPR interview on the way in to work last week and I sat in my car in the sunshine and listened to the entire thing.:

It’s worth a listen. But it honestly left me wondering what I would tell the young man in the story (Max) who felt he didn’t have a passion to follow. My lack of a real good answer bugged me all morning. Especially in light of the book we just wrote.

Cordell and I started talking about Max and his question.

Here’s the gist of what Cordell shared with me:

I’ve met many recent college graduates who have no idea what they want to do. We’ve screwed them up by telling them to follow their passion. Passion is like love. Love is not a feeling. Love comes from doing. We have to apologize to these bright young minds and encourage them to just do something. Passion is what you discover about yourself along the way. It’s not something you just magically have. It comes from experiences. People don’t share passions. They share experiences. Stories are about something that happened to you. The passion conversations do not come from your heart first. They come from a collision with life.

Maybe that yearning for more that puzzles me at times is what keeps me excited and embracing life and all it’s many changes. Maybe they’re even more passions I have yet to unearth. That knowledge is pretty damn wonderful and magical.

And for businesses that insight is magical too.

Passion conversations, not product conversations, come from your collision with life and the stories and experiences you share with those you serve.

What do you think?

  • Justin

    That’s a pretty intriguing statement from Cordell. Sure, some people have passions early on, but I think we do setup our youth to have a vision or direction just barely after they’ve been weened off of diapers. ;)

    As you inferred, your passions change as you do as an individual so just start somewhere and figure it out as you go. I’ve always gotten the sense from grads that they feel whatever they choose is permanent ,and they’ll be “stuck” with their choice. It makes them “stuck” by not making a decision.

    • http://twitter.com/robbinphillips robbin phillips

      Justin thanks for chiming in. I love hearing your voice. Come see us!

  • http://profiles.google.com/smtpark Scott Park

    Just do it! …I’ve heard that somewhere, but it’s true.

  • http://twitter.com/chadhartman Chad Hartman

    Max has a passion, it just has not become clear to him. I have a passion for gardening, heavy metal music, playing poker and hiking with my family. I think where people lose their way is when they try to make an absolute bond between career and passion. I don’t want to seek a career in any of my passions. I love my career and at times am passionate about it, at times I love it and at times I struggle. I’d have to agree with Scott, just do it, do a lot of it, and you will figure it out.

    • http://twitter.com/robbinphillips robbin phillips

      Yup. Do a lot of it!

  • http://twitter.com/suddenlyjamie Jamie Wallace

    So much here to process, Robbin. Thank you.

    Finding “passion” and “purpose” are both very important to me. I really love how you’ve articulated what’s important to you – happiness, simplicity, and peace. You’ve inspired me to take a closer look at my own “most important things.” They are always there, but too often buried beneath the hustle and bustle of our daily grind. Time to pull them out, dust them off, and put them in a place of prominence where we can be reminded of them each day and share them with others.

    Wonderful. Glad you’re coming slowly out of your writing cocoon. Looking forward to the book. :)

    • http://twitter.com/robbinphillips robbin phillips

      Hello Jamie. I love seeing your face on the blog!

  • http://www.lizalacasse.com/ Liza LaCasse

    Thank you Robbin. I have children just the age that you’re speaking of and… I’m one of those “kids” myself. Fresh out of college and seeking… simplicity, peace, purpose, my place in this new leg of the journey. I so appreciate the encouragement. : )

  • adam chandler

    This post has stuck with me for the last week like fly paper, mainly because similar questions have stalked me at various points in life. Brilliant insights abound in this post but its the warm, gentle tone that I find comforting when talking about such a big and overwhelming subject.
    Several years ago I jotted some thoughts down on a similar subject and this post sent me digging through old hardrives and doc. files to find it. http://toominithoughts.blogspot.com/
    After rereading this post its obvious that mine has a shortage of both brilliant insight and warmth but maybe there is a thought or two that can further the discussion.

    • http://twitter.com/robbinphillips robbin phillips

      Wow. Adam, that is great advice on your post:

      “Its almost impossible to turn a parked
      car. Keep moving, even if it is the wrong direction, you can turn around once
      you get going.”