Archive for the ‘passion’ Tag

Web and work

One of the maxims business experts like to throw about these days is that your business must cater to what the people want.  Certainly, in terms of making money this is true.  I tend to doubt that it’s useful advice, though, in terms of being happy.

Often, what you’re doing – especially in an entrepreneurial circumstance – is working on your deepest passions, and often there seems to be no interface with the public at large.  You’re developing a new widget, or offering a new service that you believe in 110%, but few others seem to appreciate your product.  You knew from the start that your focus differed widely from that of the masses, but it is the thing that floats your boat and involvement in some other direction would be simply inauthentic.

I do not approve of diminishing or watering down your offerings for the sake of popularity.  Will the madding crowds care a fig for you in the end?  Isn’t it smarter to stay loyal to your highest dreams, the ones you intuit will save your soul?  There’s no surer road to defeat than compromising your own truth, even if the path that is true to yourself  is rocky and full of potholes.

Thanks to the modern miracle of the internet, staying true to yourself is now more possible than ever.  With patience and commitment, you can find the precious few who appreciate your values, wherever they are in the world, and build a support (and feedback) structure that will enable your continued work.

If  ‘flipping’ or ‘scaling’ is what turns you on, the net can help you amass millions of supporters.  But if creating and developing are more to your taste, you can use the web even more productively, through dialogue, connections, and marketing.  So please don’t fall for the directives of people with base aspirations.  Please choose to find your own truth, and work on developing your gifts to their ultimate expression, and don’t worry if what you produce is not of the instantly popular variety.  As long as it nurtures your being, as long as you stay open to discovering, as long as you generously share, you’ll find not only rewards but sustenance.

The coincidence of massive layoffs currently, and the proliferation of the web seems serendipitous to me.  So many people, many of relatively advanced age, needing to find new means of support, while the web continues to open up all the resources of the world to each of us.  It’s an evolutionary leap:  perhaps instead of selling our souls to the corporation, we can now contemplate the very real possibility of developing our individual awareness and gifts.

Prime motives

I enjoyed Hugh MacLeod’s interview with Mark Earls a week or so ago, in which they discussed “Purpose-Idea.”

Put really simply, the Purpose-Idea is the “What For?” of a business, or any kind of community. What exists to change (or protect) in the world, why employees get out of bed in the morning, what difference the business seeks to make on behalf of customers and employees and everyone else? BTW this is not “mission, vision, values” territory – it’s about real drives, passions and beliefs. The stuff that men in suits tend to get embarrassed about because it’s personal … P-I makes things personal – makes you put your balls on the line.” 

The drive towards authenticity necessitated by our recent financial debacle is founded in the concept of meaningful Purpose-Idea. As Earls suggests, many are uncomfortable with close encounters of the soulful kind; pride and dominion have warped our human-ness, and many think themselves above the messiness of emotion or passion. Yet e-motion refers to the force that gets us moving, and having mired our productivity in artificiality and emptiness, we no longer have the option to ignore prime motives.

Whether boss or worker, President or homemaker, now is the time to establish your ground in a Purpose-Idea that has infinite meaning for you. Do not settle for material rewards, financial gain, elevated personal status. Be sure you set the bar high enough that no unexpected circumstance can deter or discourage you. Locate the vision that will remain ultimately motivating, and reorient your affairs to address that vision exclusively.

It’s time for Americans to leave behind the fads and cheap thrills of adolescence and progress to the responsibilities of adulthood. Only then can we anticipate the joy and fulfillment that come with deep meaning.

Start by appreciating

OK, so you’re not into the arts, and can’t imagine devoting time to practicing drawing or dancing or singing. But still, you worry about your lack of energy and enthusiasm; you wonder if this is all there is; your business is steady, maybe even growing, but you’re only vaguely interested in it anymore. You have trouble promoting your efforts with passion. You need something else, but what?

It’s dangerous times we live in. Oh indeed, we’re not fearful the Visigoths will slit our throats while we sleep; we have achieved a measure of peace compared with the daily threats of life in the Dark Ages. The danger lies in our heads these days. Have you ever wondered how it is that so many Middle Easterners are ready to die for their cause? Why do so many of us require anti-depressants to be healthy? We live in a time when 30,000 people can die in a day from a natural disaster, the news is instantly shared with the world, and we mourn for a day before shoving it aside along with all the other distractions that we need to keep from interfering with our one sacred duty: that of making money.

I perceive that death has become an attractive alternative to our pervasive unhappiness, rather than a disaster to be avoided at all costs. The danger of this state of mind cannot be underestimated. All our peace and productivity stem from an appreciation for life as a thing worth participating in. If you find yourself stalled, uninspired, wanting only to sleep or otherwise hide away, you’ve become infected with this ennui.

Directives to indulge your fascinations in order to avoid such apathy are useful only if you can identify one or two things that unquestionably turn you on. Having been there, I know it’s possible to be so sad that you can’t think of anything that can be qualified as a turn-on. In this instance, where you’re starting at rock bottom, the best thing to do is allow yourself to appreciate.

Notice this is not making yourself appreciate. It’s just quietly allowing, turning your attention to your bodily responses. That first swallow of coffee, the breeze on your cheek, the way the sun falls across your desk, your ability to use your legs and walk, the divine caress of the sheets as you lie down to sleep. Let yourself not only notice but spend a few moments mulling over whatever offers this chance for appreciation. Do nothing more than dedicate your attention to the tiny little ways the universe soothes and delights at every moment.

I love the newspaper stories about the latest woman celebrating her 101st birthday. Many times, when asked the inevitable question about advice for long life, the answer is that you’ll benefit from maintaining an attitude of gratitude. For most of us in these times of profound threat to our existence as a species, developing that attitude in the first place requires focus and committment. Decide to appreciate, and your opportunities to do so will multiply.

Roots of passion

All this talk about passion, and fascination, and personal branding. The wonderful folks at Creative Something recently quoted Ze Frank as saying creativity is “…having the energy to stay interested and the energy to spark interest in things.” What energy? What interest? Where do these things come from if they don’t seem to be on hand? You understand the logic of all the talk about finding your passion, but there’s just one small problem: while you believe that energy, interest, passion, and creativity are all useful, you have no idea where to find those things.

It’s like when you’re feeling bad and someone says “Get over it.” That doesn’t help, because if you could get over it you wouldn’t be feeling bad. Somebody saying “Be creative,” or “Find your passion,” or “Articulate your brand” is just as unhelpful.

We’re simply out of practice. Most of us work, and then decompress with the tv, sleep, and then start all over again. On the weekends, we do chores or spectator sports. There’s no time for self-scrutiny.

Until recently, there were no obvious rewards in a personal vision quest: the industrial world needs workers, not seekers. But the complexities we currently face require a new kind of self-responsibility, since individuals can easily perceive their connections to all of humanity. If my world unfolds within the confines of the local geographic area only, I am aware of and bear responsibility towards far fewer people than if my consciousness ranges the entire globe.

This broadened awareness brings with it a new requirement for survival, and that is sustainability, in all its multiple levels and meanings. And, ladies and gentlemen, sustainability is not achieved without passion.

So we have to re-learn how to be interested, where to find fascination; we have to discover energy from somewhere, like magic; we have to allow the possibility of creativity, and send little love notes to our passion. It is there, waiting for us.