Harvard Business review blog recently posted an article called To Find Happiness, Forget About Passion. It’s a thought provoking article.
It makes a good point for balance. It can’t all be about passion. Sometimes the need to think of others, fight to make a place for something of value, and to know you can make your way in the world is what is required.
But I would make a few observations. The word happiness is interesting. I think it means the feeling of your heart soaring. A connection to something deeply meaningful, sensually delightful, creatively enlivening. When you’re happy time stops, money seems meaningless, you feel connected to something you love and satisfied.
Happiness is sometimes confused with that other form of well-being, comfort and safety. This article is describing comfort as a form of happiness. He forgot money can’t buy happiness. It can buy comfort and safety though. Passion can’t bring you comfort and safety. Comfort and safety is that great feeling that you can handle whatever hardship comes your way; that you have what you and yours need to have food, clothing, shelter, transport and a nest egg for the future. Comfort and safety comes when you have conquered the elements that are fear causing.
So what about the friend who followed her passion thinking she was in step with Steve Jobs. This article points out the fundamental need for balance. All the creativity in the world is of no use if it doesn’t find a place in life. We need to switch to fear-conquering methods once we know our passion in order to make a place for it in the world.
Secondly, the article goes on to describe ways to secure your future but actually recommends starting with your passion to make the world a better place. Here’s the thing about passion: you don’t set out to meet the needs of others. The fear-conquering world does that. There is a gift in you that the world may need but it doesn’t know it. The task is to follow your passion and bring your unique gift to life. You only discover your gift by going inside and connecting with who you are and your unique way of seeing the world. This is how innovation occurs. This is how things happen against all odds. Often following your passion introduces something of value to the world. But if you look for problems as a means of finding your way, as the article suggests, you may find guaranteed work, but you may not find a connection to what you have to offer.
Heroes are called to action by an outside need. It drives them and as they fight fear they come to learn they can push back the boundaries of their mortality which brings them personal benefit.
It is the opposite in the passion-based world. The Spirit (the archetypal Virgin) has to look inside and then bring what it finds to life. This brings creativity, or a deep sense of meaning, unconditional love to the world. Most jobs today require what only passion can bring you: innovation, a sense of belonging, resilience and adaptability. This starts with self-fulfillment and passion, and has the result of enriching the world with joy and creativity. You can’t use fear-conquering methods to get passion-based results.
So let’s not be too quick to throw out passion. It is not one or the other. We need passion and heroism.