I was just reading how some people make excuses for not following their passion… and thought that I might respond in support of following your passion.
When I was small, I wanted a Ferrari Testarossa. You see, I have red hair (well at least it was when I was younger!); when I found out that “Testarossa” literally means “red head”, I decided in the unequivocal way children can, that it was my dream car.
Then I saw one… and I thought, “hmmm… that’s a pretty ugly car” – but it was my publicly stated “dream car” so I held onto the dream.
Shortly after starting my first company, I sat in a Ferrari for the first time. It was in a dealership in Brisbane and I was so excited – finally, I was going to get what I had always wanted. As I sat myself into that hard seat of fine Italian leather, it felt fantastic… For a moment… until I realized, “It’s just a car.”
And it hit me like a cement truck falling at terminal velocity. It wasn’t the car that I wanted. It was the concept that the car represented. It was the feeling that I thought the car would give me. Pursuing the car was great in that it took me closer towards things that I really did want (excellence, achievement, impact, joy, passion…). But it wasn’t about the car.
Whenever I’m getting too attached to a goal – whether it’s doing another degree, making more money or even buying a new mobile phone – I’m lucky to have my wife ask me, “What do you want that for?”
What will it give you?
What will that allow you to experience?
And I find that there’s usually something even more important that lies behind the surface desire. Sometimes what we think we want is the best way to get what we really want; sometimes it’s not…
I wanted to feel strong and able to defend myself. I could have meditated and transcended my insecurities. Instead, I did a black belt. Good plan – but it was just the beginning. I wanted to feel confident running a business so I did an MBA. I’m not sure that was such a good plan 😉
The feelings of what you really want are the destinations… the surface desires are just vehicles for getting there. Make sure you get to the destination by a vehicle that suits you rather than just one that seems to work for you.
Perhaps this is particularly significant for me since my wife is pregnant with our first child. If I don’t live my life true to my heart – giving it my all, pursuing with passion the object of my heart’s desires – what sort of role model will I be for my son? What sort of husband will I be if I am not living with the integrity of being my own man?
And when you can live in the present with passion and purpose, opportunities show up that you could never have prepared or planned for… when you can put your cup of water back into the ocean, you can work with the force of the ocean.