There has been a trend recently in the online entrepreneurial world to encourage people to “follow their passion”. To seek their purpose through their work and fulfill it passionately, determinedly; hopefully, but not always, while making money.
LinkedIn even has a tag for it “passionate about work”.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. For years, we’ve been hearing people tell us to “love what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life”.
I have always been uncomfortable with that concept.
There are things I am passionate about, my husband, my son, my causes, books, great food, good wine. I just don’t consider my work to be in that category. On a good day, it can make my heart race, give me a huge adrenaline rush and make me grateful that I stepped out of my comfort zone to do it. But I don’t think that I am “passionate” about my work in the same way.
This has bothered me, like the new mother myth that all new mothers fall instantly and deeply in love with their babies. Some do and some don’t. For me, holding my son for the first time, I was assailed with an emotional tsunami of awe, relief, exhaustion and panic as I tried to work out how to stop him crying. There definitely weren’t any perfect pink fluffy clouds of new mother bliss then, or for some time afterwards.
And so it is with business, I am certain that there are those who burn with an all-consuming passion for what they do, who have discovered their life’s purpose in their career. But what about those of us who don’t or who haven’t? What are we left with? Are we just not trying hard enough? Maybe we are simply misguided, and haven’t worked hard enough to discover our “passion” yet?
I was listening to an interview with author Elizabeth Gilbert recently. During the interview, she said something so insightful that I had to stop what I was doing and pay attention.
Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting…”
And I realised, right then, that it is not passion that I have or that I even should be pursuing in my work. It’s curiosity.
It’s curiosity that drives me forward, that keeps me reaching for the next goal and the next phase. I’m curious. I want to know what happens in the next chapter. I like to keep my eyes wide open for the half hidden opportunity, the sly piece of information, the next breadcrumb on the trail.
I want to stay curious.
I did not dream, as a child, of running a non-profit parenting community or guiding others in their business growth. I do not consider these things to be my passion. They are, though, the things which I remain intensely curious about, that I hunger to know more about and that I desire to share with others.
Steve Jobs popularised the incentive to “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.
And he was right. We need drive and we need a healthy reality check every now and then, but I believe that we also need to stay curious because when our curiosity dies that path, for us, has ended. We become merely the traveller, no longer the explorer.
Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious.
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