Is passion coded into our DNA? It’s certainly embedded in our culture. It’s become a shameful thing to not have a passion. Whether it’s making tiny sweaters for rodents or discovering a cure for Alzheimers, it almost seems as though the world doesn’t care what your passion is, just so long as you have one. This can cause a lot of stress for people who try as they might, cannot seem to find their life’s calling. Heck, they might not even be able to find a hobby.
Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love recently spoke against passion in her Super Soul session on SuperSoul.tv. She described two types of people in the context of passion: Jackhammers & Hummingbirds.
Jackhammers are the people who discover their passion early on and spend everyday from that moment forth pursuing it with both eyes down- drilling into it with intense focus and energy.
Hummingbirds are those people who float from one curiosity to the next. Lingering on something that seems promising and then realizing “no, that’s not it” and moving on to the next thing that excites their spirit.
I’d argue that most of us are hummingbirds; and it’s not a lack of passion that deters us but rather an inability to decide which of our many interests to pursue.
You see, “follow your passion” is a very flawed cliche and the consistent preaching of it has become misleading. Better career advice would be to follow your curiosities, find something you’re good at, and cultivate your passion there. This idea that you’re born with a purpose and at the age of five you should have discovered it, and by the age of 30 you should have mastered it, is simply missing the mark.
Exhibit A: I’ve been following Anthony Bourdain’s career for a decade. I think most people would agree that he has one of the best jobs in the world. He travels to incredible places, eats bizarre and delicious foods, and discusses important topics with interesting people… but he didn’t wake up one morning at the ripe age of 6 years old and say: “I want to host a travel show on CNN.” Instead Anthony decided to go to culinary school, he worked a lot of crappy chef jobs, did a lot of drugs, wrote a book he never anticipated the success of, and after much time and effort got to the kickass place he is today. He worked hard and cultivated a passion in what he was doing.
The point is this: Don’t be afraid to float around exploring all of the things that interest you. Don’t feel insecure or odd because you don’t have a clear answer to the question “what’s your passion?” because guess what? Each of those interests is a breadcrumb and they’re leading you down a path… Trust the trail of breadcrumbs – because one day you’ll look up and realize you’ve found your passion. You’ll look at your life and know that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be – in a city you love, with a family you love, and work that inspires you.
Follow the breadcrumbs.