Passion Envy
My passion envy began on October 19, 1991. I was 22 and went to a bar to see a band and met a guy named Kevin. He was also there to see the band, and in fact, he even played guitar. But this was no casual guitar player; he had been playing for years and was incredibly passionate about it. Being female and 22, of course, I was instantly thrilled with the fact that he was a musician. I was also struck by his passion for something, anything really. It made me ask myself questions like, "What am I passionate about? How would I know? Am I passionate about Pringle’s and Depeche Mode? Does that count?" Thus began my passion envy.

The word "passion" conjures up feelings of dedication, fire, drive, intensity and great love. I couldn’t honestly say I felt that way about anything, except possibly Kevin. We all know about that kind of passion. But what about passion for something you believe in, something you want for the world, something that has you so compelled to action that you really feel it’s not even a choice anymore?

Part of what got in my way was waiting for a lightning bolt to the forehead. Or for the clouds to part and the heavens to speak to me. I wish I was exaggerating. I really did look for that kind of sign. None came. So I trudged along in my corporate job, doing very well, enjoying the recognition and allowing it to feed me if passion wouldn’t. At the same time, I kept pondering the questions about what was my passion and when would it find me.

The more time I spent with Kevin (by now, we lived together), the more I started to believe that maybe passion just wasn’t for everyone, me included. How could I be 23, 25, 27 and still not have one? Sure, there were things I enjoyed, but no passion. I wanted to leap out of bed, grinning ear-to-ear, screaming YES! to my life. I wanted it to be clear and handed to me. I wanted it to consume me, light me up and bring me lots of money. But passion stood me up repeatedly.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results. My current approach of wait-and-whine didn’t seem to bring any new results. It was time to try something new. So, I chose to start noticing what I enjoyed doing. I bought a book. I attended a class. Instead of envying others, I started talking to them about their passions. I did a bunch of assessments and exercises to help me see what I bring to the party. I learned two important things:

  1. Passionate people started by noticing what they enjoyed and kept finding ways to do more of it.

  2. I was passionate about helping people get in touch with their passions.
There are plenty of people who will live well beyond their mid-twenties without passion. Of course, you can live a fine life without passion. You can buy a house, have a cat, laugh, love and have decent relationships. But a life without passion is ultimately boring. It’s also not honoring what we are here to do. We are here to find our unique strengths and talents and bring them to the world. That’s why it’s boring not to; we need to use that boredom as a clue that we are misaligned, and as a motivation to create a more exciting life.

Maybe passion will find you like a lightning bolt to the forehead. Maybe it will come to you as a tap on the shoulder. Or maybe it’s a soft voice that tells you to notice what you enjoy now, what you enjoyed as a kid, what you’re doing when you lose track of time, what comes easily and naturally. The truth is, no one else’s voice is just like yours. What if your only job was to listen to that voice, amp it up, and find more ways to do what it tells you?