I'm often asked what drives high-achievers. The answer is simple—passion.
Why is passion such a powerful motivator? Here are a few thoughts on the subject from professionals from various walks of life who have found it and want to help others to do the same.
"A consuming passion is the last thing you think about before you go to bed at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up," says Brian Schwartz, author of the award-winning 50 Interviews series. "It feels like an addiction, and if someone told you to stop, it would be impossible for you to give it up." Schwartz explains that those who have been lucky enough to recognize and pursue their passion(s) don't really care if they are getting paid to do it or not. It's a part of their purpose, their calling in life, and without it, something is missing.
John Maxwell, motivational speaker and author on leadership, describes passion as "the fuel for will." Passion, says Maxwell, turns "have-to’s into want-to’s." he takes the position that if you want something badly enough, you will find the willpower to achieve it and you won't stop trying until you do.
Life coach Jan Gordon describes passion as "the essense of commitment." She says, "Passion is that which deeply stirs us. It's the fire from within and that which motivates us. When passion is missing, our actions lack meaning and we don't get the results we want ... passion is the seed from which commitment blossoms!"
However, pursuing your passion is not as simple or as easy as some people make it sound. Yes, we've all heard stories about those once-in-a-lifetime moments where what someone loves to do falls right into their laps. However, this is the rare exception rather than the rule. For most people, making time in their lives to do what they love takes patience, hard work, and persistence.
It also depends on what you are passionate about. Some people are fortunate enough to have passions that fit nicely into a business model or into the business world, so if they work hard enough, are patient enough, and are persistent enough, they can turn their passion into a realistic career. Unfortunately, that's not the case for everyone. But that doesn't mean you have to forego pursuing your passion.
Work is only one component of our lives (or it should be). If you're passionate about feeding the poor or helping the homeless, you don't have to get a job in a soup kitchen or at a homeless shelter. You just need to make the commitment to find time and opportunities to get out there and help. In today's overscheduled world, is it hard to carve out some time to do things you truly love? It certainly can be. But no one who seriously talks about pursuing their passion ever says it is easy. They do, however, unequivocally say that it's worth the effort.
Lastly, as Schwartz points out, it's important to remember that passion requires fuel to grow and one of the best ways to get that fuel is to share it with others. "Just like a plant needs water, your passion needs to be nurtured a little bit every day in order for it to grow to the point where it becomes obvious to you and the rest of the world," says Schwartz.
There is no passion to be found playing small—in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. —Nelson Mandela
© 2013 Sherrie Bourg Carter, All Rights Reserved
Sherrie Bourg Carter is the author of High Octane Women: How Superachievers Can Avoid Burnout (Prometheus Books, 2011).