by Lori Milner: author, entrepreneur, thought leader and founder of Beyond the Dress
The word ‘passion’ has become a huge buzzword lately. Experts sharing their tips on how to discover your calling, your passion, your purpose for being on this planet. What I have found is that this is starting to become a destructive word. It creates this huge sense of fear – ‘what if I am not doing the thing I meant to be doing?’ It makes the present moment insignificant, it’s this thing we need to get through in order to get to the next more important moment because maybe we’ll discover it then. It has the ability to create huge self-doubt because the word passion indicates there is ONE thing we should be doing and that we should instantly know what that thing is.
I have spent a long time researching this topic as I found myself questioning this in my life. I am relieved to share we can trade in the cliché’ of finding your passion for something much more attainable and equally meaningful. I turned to some amazing experts for their views on this subject.
According to author and speaker Mel Robbins, passion is energy: not a destiny. Passion isn’t a person, place, or thing- and you won’t find it outside of you. Passion begins inside with curiosity. You grow into the things that interest you. Passion is about the pursuit, not the end game.
Mel says ‘I believe that passion is another word for energy. That’s it. What energizes you? We naturally have a tremendous amount of body wisdom about that, and that every one of us has an internal fuel tank that is either empty or full. And if your tank is empty, you feel depleted. If your tank is full, you feel energized. If you simply are in any situation, I mean any situation and if you pay attention within 5 seconds to ‘does this person energize me or do they deplete me?’ Where are they on the scale? You just gain some tremendous wisdom.’
“The key is to start aligning yourself with more things that energize you. Now being depleted versus energized has nothing to do with whether or not things are hard or easy. It has to do with what naturally expands you or shrinks you. And so if you look at your client list and measure it against depleted versus energizes. ‘What shrinks or expands me?’ You have the actual map. And when you start to find the courage to make the decisions that energize you and expands you, even if they are scary as sh@@! Or not. That is when everything changes.”
One of my favourite influencers is Seth Godin. He has a different take on passion.
‘Instead of, "do what you love," perhaps the more effective mantra for the entrepreneur, the linchpin and maker of change might be, "love what you do."
If we can fall in love with serving people, creating value, solving problems, building valuable connections and doing work that matters, it makes it far more likely we're going to do important work.’
Piecing it all together…
I listened to podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat.Pray.Love. She confessed to being guilty of spreading a message that people must follow their passion to find true happiness. She now apologizes for this message and advises all we need to do is to follow our curiosity.
The stakes are low when we are just curious. Whereas passion makes us feel like we are risking everything by putting all our eggs in one basket. Most people’s career paths have been a result of following one curious interest after the next. When you are curious, it allows us to explore in a fun and safe manner. If we realise it isn’t for us than no big deal. Just move onto the next thing. I have found my curiously lies in habits, why we do what we do, how to create systems that work, understand the metrics of self-discipline to become the best version of ourselves. What I discovered is I am passionate about helping others show up to themselves. Over the years, this has manifested in various ways.
Elizabeth suggests ‘Do yourself a great kindness and just for now – take the word passion off the table. Relieve yourself of the pressure around that. Just follow your curiosity. It’s a gentler, kinder, more welcoming, more humane instinct than passion. It is so much more accessible. Passion is demanding and it’s greedy.
In contrast to the demands of passion, curiosity will never do that to you. It will never make outrageous demands of us. It doesn’t take. It only gives. It gives you clues on the incredible scavenger hunt of your life. Curiosity is accessible every day. It’s so mild and the stakes are so low. No matter how nothing it seems, there is something every day you are always curious about.
It’s the trail of bread crumbs of your life. The only thing curiosity will ever ask of you is to turn your head and look a little closer at one of those clues. You may follow it for a few inches and realise you aren’t really into it and that’s ok. Or you may go for a long time just doing that thing.
Gilbert says ‘If you’re willing to release yourself of the pressure of passion and follow the bread crumbs and trust it, one of these days, you will look up and realise you are doing exactly what you are meant be. If you can let go of passion and follow your curiosity; your curiosity may just lead you to your passion.
She closes with this quote by late poet Hafiz:
‘This place where you are right now. God circled on a map for you’.
Trust your interests, trust your curiosity and follow the bread crumbs.
So here are some thought starters to discover where your curiosity lies and what energizes you:
What are the things that naturally energize you?
What do you like to learn about?
What would you do for free?
Whose life are you interested in or envious of?
How can you add more of these things into your life?
What depletes you?
How can you remove one of these things from your life today?
When something energizes you, add more of it to your life. When something depletes you, figure out how to do less of that thing. As often as possible, follow the energy inside you. That is where curiosity lives.
Here’s to following the bread crumbs,
LORI MILNER is the engaging facilitator, thought leader and mentor known for her insightful approach to being a modern corporate woman. Her brainchild, the successful initiative Beyond the Dress, is the embodiment of her passion to empower women. Beyond the Dress has worked with South Africa’s leading corporates and empowered hundreds of women with valuable insight on how to bridge the gap between work and personal life. Clients include Siemens, Massmart, Alexander Forbes, Life Healthcare Group, RMB Private Bank and Unilever to name a few. Lori has co-authored Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer. Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women to provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level. Own Your Space is the ultimate ‘toolkit’ to unleash your true power. It’s for the woman who wants to take her career to new heights and who is ready to fulfil her true potential.
Read more articles by Lori...