Passions Aren’t Just Hobbies

Your passion may be hiding between your activities

Sniper shot to the head -a speaker collapsed at a tech conference that I was attending. Hearing gunshots a few moments later, I spastically ran for my life. However, this was a fictional conference and my running was planned. I was fortunate to be an extra in the newest Jason Bourne movie. While obviously not as stressful as it would have been if I thought the gunshots were real, there was genuine fervor and adrenaline running through my veins.

When I went to see the movie in theaters, I wore the badge I used as an extra. You can barely see me in the movie, but the experience was still worth it.

Acting has always been a strong interest of mine, along with reading and writing. These are all connected by the same element: my desire to understand people and help others understand each other. The best thing about books and movies is imagining yourself in the characters’ situations and asking yourself how you would react. Answers to those questions help you analyze yourself and human nature in general.

“We all love stories. We’re born for them. Stories affirm who we are. We all want affirmations that our lives have meaning. And nothing does a greater affirmation than when we connect through stories. It can cross the barriers of time, past, present and future, and allow us to experience the similarities between ourselves and through others, real and imagined.” — Andrew Stanton, writer of “Toy Story.”

Although I love acting, I’ve never tried to make a career out of it. While I love reading, I’m not an editor. When you have multiple passions, it’s important to find the connections between them. That’s what will help you see your career opportunities. Realizing my biggest interest is understanding people has been invaluable in making decisions on how to spend my time. In fact, it’s the main reason that I blog.

For Howard D. Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, coffee isn’t the most important part of Starbucks. His passion is creating a welcoming environment with great customer service. He believes, “Starbucks represents something beyond a cup of coffee.” The goals of Starbucks really come across in the book The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary*. Had Schultz taken a more narrow view of his vision, the famous chain may not be as iconic as it is today.

Let’s say you love cooking and painting. The common factor may be that you love constructing creations. Not becoming a professional chef or painter won’t waste that passion. Make your food presentation as pretty as your paintings and snap some photos. You might be an amazing food blogger or Instagram sensation. Marcus Nilsson was a professional chef for a decade before going to art school. Now, he has become what some call “a professional food photographer.” The point is to look deeply into why you adore doing things. Seeing the common links gives you insight and might make you reconsider how you spend your time. You have more options than you think.

Perhaps the book Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds* describes it best. The author Carmine Gallo says to ask yourself, “‘What makes my heart sing?’ Your passion is not a passing interest or even a hobby. A passion is something that is intensely meaningful and core to your identity. Once you identify what your passion is, can you say it influences your daily activities? Can you incorporate it into what you do professionally?”

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