One of my favorite activities in life is sitting down with my best friend and discussing good, quality questions. It is always fascinating to hear someone answer a question from an angle that never would have occurred to me, inserting perspective that gives me pause to, and causes me to, reconsider my own answers.
This happened when one of the questions had to do with passion. We were reading about a historical figure that had reacted with genuine passion to some troubling news.
After receiving the news, he moved swiftly to pursue an audacious plan of action that was perfectly congruent with his passion. The execution of the plan involved delegating various tasks to different people and boldly requesting donations of money and building materials valued in the millions of dollars.
He got everything he asked for. And why? Was it in spite of his passion, or because of it?
Clearly, he was able to get what he wanted – and was able to successfully meet the challenge – because of the passion he had. The tremendous amount of importance he placed on the mission at hand really showed in the way he attacked the undertaking. And it was contagious.
His passion influenced others. Without that influence, the project would not have been completed. Hence, his passion was the deciding factor.
So, the question we discussed: What is a need in your life that breaks your heart like this man’s reaction to the news he received?
In my answer, I discussed things that sadden me; unresolved details of my past that I wish were different; things I wish would be fixed sooner rather than later.
My friend answered honestly.
She said that she couldn’t think of any particular needs that break her heart like the heartbreak experienced by the fellow we were discussing; things that create such passion in her heart that it fuels a desire to do something about it.
That’s when I realized that I had not really answered the question: What is a need in your life that breaks your heart like this man’s reaction to the news he received?
When my friend answered, I realized that I really had not answered the question that was asked. My friend’s answer was more honest than mine. When she said she couldn’t think of any particular need in her life that really breaks her heart, I realized I should have answered the same way. Being sad about things that are unresolved is not the same as being broken hearted to the point of taking very determined action.
From that question, and the way we answered, we both realized that we needed to have more passion about the things that are most important to us. We agreed that an appropriate amount of passion should be reflected in the way we live and especially in the way we address the needs represented by those most important things.
E. M. Forster was a turn-of-the-century English novelist who wrote two books that would eventually become major motion pictures: A Room With a View – nominated for two Academy Awards – and Howard’s End – nominated for nine Academy Awards and winner of three. A prolific author of many novels and short stories, Forster would not have accomplished so much quality in his life if not for his passion.
He once wrote: “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.” That observation is well-taken from someone so productive.
How about you? Is your life as productive as you want it to be? What heartbreaking needs do you have? I urge you to consider that passion may be a missing ingredient.
Possessing a passion about a thing consists of having a willingness to risk looking a little crazy (a characteristic my best friend has and that I want more of). It means that this is something you are willing to feel as though you just lost the Super Bowl unless and until the situation is what you know it can be and should be.
Want to become more productive? Want to have more passion?
Start by sitting down with someone you trust. Ask and answer questions that might be slightly uncomfortable, but that are intended to go a little deeper than most conversations go.
Be willing to be transparent. Be willing to speak the truth as you see it (lovingly, respectfully) and to hear it. Be willing to be constructively criticized. Be willing to be picked on a little bit. Be determined to listen slightly more than you speak. Be committed to giving more than you take and to learning more than being a source of enlightenment.
You will get what you want, and you’ll influence others to join you, when you care less about how others will react to your mission than the amount of passion you bring to bear in simply getting it done.
Having a clear outlook on what you are really and truly passionate about, including what you ought to be more passionate about, can be somewhat like having a room with a view.