Posts Tagged ‘passion’

Failing at Work?

April 9, 2010

Gandhi’s family sacrificed everything they had to send him to law school.  Gandhi graduated and passed the bar, but unfortunately, he was so shy that whenever he stood up in court all he could do was stammer.  He lost every one of his cases – a total failure as a courtroom attorney.  Then he went off to South Africa, where he found his passion and his voice by challenging racial and social injustice – and brought England to its knees.

In a note to our family the week before he left on his first trip to Rwanda four years ago, my son Jared said this: I am a bit intimidated by the magnitude of this project, and the possibility of it affecting so many lives, but I’m equally excited and I know I have the passion and determination to see it through, even if I am shaking in my boots. My passion for these people always exceeds my fears of inadequacy. In realizing that, I regain the confidence I need. (see )

Now there’s a key for overcoming the fears of inadequacy. My passion exceeds my fears. Staying true to your calling will release a passion for what you are doing; that will in turn override your fears of inadequacy.

Work at what you love. You’ll never work more willingly, passionately, and fearlessly than when you work in line with your passion—where your life will speak. The extra boost of enthusiasm and energy generated by a clear passion will propel you to a level of success unattainable with any other motivation. If fear is crippling or limiting you, perhaps you are trying to do work that is not your passion. Working with raw ability alone is ultimately not enough to keep you going.

Does Everyone Have Passion?

September 12, 2008

This week a reader asked:

“How do you identify PASSION when that word seems so intense? You’ve addressed this before & I’m reading 48 Days but the word “passion” itself seems too intense for me. I have a hard time saying that there is anything other than my loved ones that I feel “passionate” about… How do I identify passion when I can’t recognize what it is?

Yes, I do talk about the importance of finding your passion – as a pre-requisite to finding work that you love.

The dictionary defines “passion” as any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.  Others meanings would include a strong excitement, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.

Well, I hope you do have things in your life that you’re excited about – and those should help you identify your passion.  Having a little life experience is a great help in uncovering our passion – because it’s not so much bringing something new into our life as it is uncovering what’s already there.  Pablo Picasso said, “All children are artists, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

I see the same thing in working with adults.  I agree with Picasso that all children have passions.  You cannot find a two or three year old that does not show passion in many ways.  How do we lose that as we grow up?  I observe that “life happens” and often we just become numb to what our passions are.  The responsibilities of life sometimes crowd out those things that were once most important.  But we ought to be able to look back at our life and see recurring themes.  It may be when you’re working with elderly people, or with plants, or when you’re working on ideas rather than with people at all.  There is no right or wrong; but you should be able to see these patterns that help you identify your true passions.  So it’s rather like peeling an onion – just peeling back the layers to expose what’s already there rather than discovering something new that you’ve never been aware of before.

So enjoy the process of unpeeling your onion – and watch your passions come into view once again.

The Open Road — or a Dead-End Street?

August 11, 2008

Saturday afternoon the now famous 36-ft green RV with the RoadTripNation crew aboard rolled back our long country lane here in Franklin, TN.  They are making the 08 trip from California to Maine and wanted to talk with my son Jared (Sisters of Rwanda director) – who lives in Rwanda but is currently here in Nashville.  What an interesting group!  Three long-time buddies graduated from college and began asking the common question “what do I want to do with my life?” They are now interviewing people who have found their passion.  They were determined to expose themselves to more than just the traditional life roads.  Like the original RTN gang they hopped in a green RV and hit the road to talk with inspiring people from all walks of life to find out how they came to do what they love for a living.

Roadtrip Nation has evolved into a PBS series, three books, an online community, and a student movement.  PBS sends people on the road who are interested in exploring the world outside their comfort zone, talking with individuals who chose to define their own road in life, and sharing their experiences with our generation.

I was blown away by their Manifesto – written on the back of the bus:

“So, what do you want to do with your life?”
You should be a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant, a consultant….
Blah, blah, blah.
Everywhere you turn people try to tell you who to be and what to do with your life.  We call that the noise…Block it…Shed it..
Leave it for the conformists..
As a generation, we need to get back to focusing on individuality.
Self-construction rather than mass production.
Define your own road in life instead of traveling down someone else’s.  Listen to yourself.
Your road is the Open Road. Find it.
Find the Open Road.

This young generation is not content to live out traditional work lives while missing meaning, purpose and fulfillment.  They are determined to connect their passion and calling to what they do each day.  What about you?  Have you found your open road – or are you stuck on a dead-end street?

Lawn Mower or Porsche?

April 16, 2008

If you don’t combine your passion with your work you will never achieve excellence and fulfillment.  I imagine it kind of like having a lawn mower engine in a Porsche.  Yeah, it will move along but it can hardly get out of the way of other traffic and it sure doesn’t give you the thrill and exhilaration that driving a Porsche should.  (I took a friend’s Porsche 959 for a spin recently.  It had been modified from its original 331hp to 615 horsepower – what a rush!)

Every week I hear from lots of people who are still trying to find their passion.  Here are some examples:

Dan, I cannot think of anything that just supremely stirs my drink. I have no passions or dreams. (I’m in my early 50s).  I mean, there are some “warm” areas. But there is nothing I feel like I want to give my life to. The old cheese has moved, and the old dreams are dead and gone. I’m looking for a new one.

 I’m currently working with a high level financial executive who, after 26 years with the same company, is being “invited” to leave.  He’s having to catch up with the new opportunities because for 26 years “I’ve had my head down, and pencil up.”

Today I talked with a 34-year-old who has a history of starting businesses “that have nothing to do with my passion.”  And then he wonders why it’s such a struggle to make them work.

I’m also working with a 48-year-old dentist who after years of frustration says, “I just keep getting better at what I intend to get out of.”

What’s blocking you from finding your passion – and integrating it into your work?  Are you convinced that work is meant to be boring and stifling – only a means to a paycheck?  Do you think that fulfilling God’s will always means sacrificing your true passions?  Do you believe that if you followed your passions your income would drop dramatically?  I believe all of these are false statements.

A couple months ago I wrote a blog on “Is Your Music Still In You?”  The response to that was so overwhelming we now have produced business card-sized magnets with those words on them for a constant reminder to not let that happen.

What’s your reason for not living in your passion?  Share your comments here.  I’ll choose 10 of the most interesting responses and send you one of the “Is Your Music Still in You?” magnets.

Five Dollars — or Twelve Thousand?

April 11, 2008

Last Sunday Joanne and I went to a big art show here in Nashville.  50 artists had been invited to show and sell their work.  You might say I’m a novice when it comes to understanding art.  So I walk in and I see a $3 canvas with maybe $2 worth of paint on it.  Thus my starting point for seeing the value of a piece is about $5.  Or we could measure it or weigh it to get another measurement of what the price should be.  Then I glance at the price and see that it’s $12,000.  And I ask myself what takes the value of this piece from its true cost of $5 to $12,000?  As I roamed around this show I saw the artists standing in front of their work.  And as I talked with those artists I began to hear the stories behind the glass pieces, the sculptures, the pencil sketches and the painted pieces.  I saw them with new eyes and agreed that the value was certainly more than the raw cost of the materials required creating them.

What about the services you provide?  Many people are paid $12 an hour for working diligently at a job.  Is that a reasonable return for what you offer?  If not, why not?  The art piece that was $12,000 was created by a 90-yr-old lady with an incredible history.  She is known the world over and she only does a few works each year.  People wait to have a rare opportunity to purchase one of her creations.  So it appears reputation and limited availability add to the “value.”  Also, she has a recognized name in those circles. 

We also talked with a young guy who creates beautiful works of glass.  3-D flowers and images give the illusion of real flowers being captured forever in his designs.  Suddenly the $595 for a small vase became not only reasonable but perhaps even a bargain.  His unusual imagination, creativity and skill took his raw materials and formed a valuable end result. 

At another booth the paintings of birds stopped us in our tracks.  It appeared you could touch the very bird this artist had painted.  She proceeded to share with us her passion for birds and how her love and compassion for them helped her see the world from their viewpoint.  Her paintings reflected that commitment to excellence in showing the world what she saw in those birds.  Her excitement conveyed a spiritual energy that just exploded in both her conversation and her work.

The question then is:  How are you using the highlighted characteristics above to increase the value of your services?  Is your “value” $5 or $12,000?

Mercy Me Bart, Just Get a “Real” Job!

February 19, 2008

Dan and Bart Millard

As I was writing today a song from the incredible new Mercy Me album, All That is Within Me, was playing on the iTunes radio station.  It reminded me of Bart Millard’s explanation for the name of their group.  We were on a John Tesh cruise together last year and Bart told how he and two friends formed their little group and started signing at church camps.  They would receive a “love offering” and with those contributions of $20 and $30 would attempt to buy hotdogs for the week and put gas in their car.

One evening he was describing their then current situation to his Grandma.  In exasperation Grandma said, “Mercy me Bart, why don’t you just get a real job?”  And thus the name, Mercy Me, was birthed.  And eight million albums and seven Dove awards later, Bart can laugh about Granny’s frustration. 

How many of you had a Grandma, or a Mom or Dad, or Uncle Harry or respected teacher who told you to forget your dreams and just get a real job?  My own Dad understands milking cows or picking corn to create income and encouraged me to do the same.  He still doesn’t fully comprehend why people pay me for just talking and writing.  I’m not sure I do either — it’s just that I love what I’m doing — and I sure don’t miss those cows!

Yeah, that’s Bart and me in the photo. 

Is Your Music Still in You?

February 18, 2008

Oliver Wendall Holmes once said “Many people die with their music still in them.”  I think that captures the fear of about 99% of the people I see who come in for career coaching.  Either they know exactly what gift or talent they have that they are not using or they are just afraid they have somehow missed finding their real authentic and fulfilling path.

What is that area that is lying dormant for you?  I recently had a pharmacist approach me at the end of a short presentation I titled Hold Fast to Dreams.  He said he had been in his profession for 17 years and could not think of any dreams he had.  In his description of his “responsible, predictable” life it became clear to both of us that his dreams had become buried along the way.  All those childhood passions had been put aside as one responsibility led to another.  At this point he was so desensitized that he couldn’t even bring them to mind anymore.  He began weeping in the 3 minutes of our conversation as he identified his current life.

You know the symptoms:  as a child you loved singing but now you haven’t sung in 20 years.  Or every time you see a news item about the starving people in Africa it brings you to tears – but you’ve never done anything to help.  Or when you see a beautiful painting you remember how much you loved that second grade art class.  You may recognize that whenever you are around old people you are energized by the compassion and wisdom they have – but you only go there once or twice a year.

Change – even when unwelcome or unexpected, often wakes up those dormant dreams.  I have seen physicians move to the country to take up organic gardening, pastors who switched to fulfilling careers as artists, and housewives who emerged from the years of raising children to release their gifts in writing and counseling. 

“Many people die with their music still in them.  Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live…Before they know it….time runs out.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes

Check out this 7 year-old singing the National Anthem.   He’s getting his “music” out.  It will be interesting to see where he is 30 years from now.  Will he be enjoying singing as he does today?  Or will the realities of life have him push that down as “unrealistic” as he goes off to his cubicle each day?

What’s that in your hand?

December 18, 2007

Remember when God spoke to Moses at the burning bush?  God told Moses he wanted him to go back to Egypt and lead the people out to the Promised Land.  Moses looked and said – “You’ve got to be kidding – I’m not the person for a job like that.”  God assured Moses he would prepare the way and he would provide some pretty convincing miracles.  Still Moses had a hard time believing he was up to the task.  He pleaded – “I can’t speak well, I don’t have a college degree, I’m a convicted felon – please, send anyone else!”  Now here we have someone with an obvious opportunity.  Wouldn’t you like for God to lay out such a clear plan for you; and to promise success in advance.  But that wasn’t good enough for Moses.  He kept trying to convince God he didn’t have any of the necessary requirements for accomplishing this big job.  Moses said “they won’t believe me.  I don’t have anything to qualify me for doing something great.”  And God came back with, “What is that in your hand?”   If you don’t remember, it was his shepherd’s staff, which turned out to be a pretty significant part of his leadership.  He turned it into a snake, parted the Red Sea with it and did some other pretty cool stuff.

If you think you’re stuck, don’t have any unusual talents, don’t have the right degrees, and don’t have the credibility to have people take you seriously – let me ask you a question:  “What do you have in your hand?”  What natural talents do you have?  What is it that you do with excellence?  Do you make beautiful candles?  Delicious bread?  Encourage the elderly?  Sing like an angel?  Draw stunning flowers?  Handle your children with grace?  You get the idea – just look at what you have right in front of you. 

With God’s help you may already have everything you need for greatness.  Don’t balk when you hear the first strains of your music.  You may want to read the Biblical account for yourself:  Exodus 3-4:17