John Boorman asks, “What is passion? It is surely the becoming of a person.” The becoming of a person, what exactly does it mean? Recently I watched an interview with the NBA coach Phil Jackson, who will retire after this season. I can’t tell you where Jackson ranks among the greatest pro coaches of all time, surely he is near the top. The interviewer asked the obligatory question, “What will you do upon retiring?” While I can’t play back Jackson’s exact reply, he said in substance that he would begin searching for his next passion. I took Jackson’s reply as a concise tutorial of Boorman’s observation. Like Jackson, passion is the magnet that draws us to what is meaningful in our existence.
I know some reading this note are fairly well convinced that the notion of enveloping all we do with a sense of passion has pretty well been ground to a nub by novelists, self help gurus, coaches, and all manner of motivators. And perhaps now by me! But passion is still one of the most relevant intentions we can bring to our lives, regardless of the goal set or the endeavor sought! Let me offer some proof. Speak to someone who is in transition between jobs. Most have the type of concerns that change injects into our lives. Tell such as person, as I have, that they are presented with an opportunity. They often don’t agree. But on further inquiry many will tell you that they probably should have changed positions years ago but a blanket of security kept them from doing so. At some level we always understand when our passion has waned.
Let me end with a story contained in my book, Humanity at Work: Encouraging Spirit, Achievement and Truth to Flourish in the Workplace (Chapel Hill Press 2008). “A dear friend and colleague recently gave me a book, The Alchemist (1995), by Paulo Coelho. It’s a fable about a young man who crosses a large desert to “realize his destiny.” To do so, he joins a caravan. The leader of the caravan explains that to reach their destination, they must focus on a specific star on the horizon. While many of us have a preconceived notion that a desert is simply a vast ocean of sand; in reality, a desert presents many obstacles, hence the caravan often has to change course before it arrives at its goal. However, so long as the caravan returns to following the star, they are assured of reaching their destination.”
The incandescence of a star- the perfect visualization of our passion to succeed.