By Kevin Howell
What is passion? Is it emotion? Is it a deep concern for something? Is it caring sincerely? And if it is any of those things, then what am I passionate about? And what does it look like? Is it necessary, and is it effective?
These are the questions that rifled through my mind after I watched this inspirational video (the Holstee Manifesto). I love the message in the clip. It’s urging us to enjoy life, and live it to the fullest by letting go of inhibitions. It resonates with me because I’ve been feeling that message deep in my soul, especially this year. But the last words on the screen made me stop and think: “Live your dream and share your passion.”
I had to wonder: “What am I passionate about?” I always associated passion with emotion, and I’m not the most emotional person. I’m pretty reserved, particularly in public. Everything from my mannerisms to my conversation is laid-back. If I were to stir up emotions for a cause, I’d be inauthentic, opposing my nature and conflicting with my character. But I know passion is necessary. It can be a driving force to get things accomplished. And most leaders display that trait — at least the ones that are most effective.
That’s because passion is infectious. People are drawn to it. When someone is emotional about a cause, he or she demands your attention. But the truth is just because someone is passionate about something doesn’t mean it’s worthy of your attention. Emotion for an empty cause just makes a lot of noise, but never sparks movement or change.
Looking up some definitions, I found the definition of passion different from my connotation. Yes, it does involve emotion, but it’s more than that. It’s an intense, driving conviction. It’s a strong devotion to an activity, object or concept. It’s an object of deep interest. Passion is more about what you believe in and have conviction for, and less about a display of emotion. If that’s the case, then, though I may lack in emotion, I definitely don’t lack in passion. I have strong convictions and devotions. I’m passionate about God and His command to love others. I’m passionate about following dreams. I’m passionate about embracing diversity. These are things that I believe in. More importantly, these are things I live because true passion drives action.
Take the Kony 2012 movement for example (which you have to have heard about unless you live in hiding with Joseph Kony or you don’t have Facebook). The people from Invisible Children were so passionate about the tragedy of child soldiers that they did something about it. Whether you agree with their tactics or not, they are bringing attention to a worthy cause because their passion drove them to action.
So what does passion look like? It doesn’t have to be emotional, but it does drive you. It drives you to action. Is it necessary? Absolutely. As author Stephen W. Simpson put it: “You need at least one thing that gives your life excitement and meaning. It should be something that feels like yours, not what someone else gave you or told you to do. … you need something that feels important and thrilling, worth risk, sacrifice, and hard work.” I believe we all have that something; we just have to be willing to embrace it. You don’t have to be emotional about it, but you should be driven by it. And when we share it with others, we awaken passion in them. So what’s your passion?