Executive Energy: Are You Living Your Passion?

December 20, 2010 | By | 2 Comments

Making turns with my snowboard in a foot of fresh powder on a snowy day on Copper Mountain yesterday, I felt the aliveness that comes with doing something I’m passionate about.

 Whether it’s snowboarding, writing or sitting in a circle of men and woman talking about their heart’s longing, my body tells me if I’m doing something I’m passionate about. Sometimes it’s a subtle tingling in my arms, sometimes a tenderness throughout my upper body, or a warm feeling around my heart. It’s as though my neurology is reminding me that I’m feeding my soul.

 When you are living your passion, euphoric sensations are not something you experience all day or for days on end, they come and go. You most likely will experience slow or even grinding-it-out periods in the midst of doing what you’re passionate about.

 When you’re doing something you’re passionate about multiple core needs are met. This includes one or more of the four core needs I talk a lot about: self-worth, connection, meaning and service. Additionally, I think you have unique need or value sets that are activated when you’re doing something you are passionate about.

 For me, the value sets are connection with self/others/God, discovery/adventure/learning, nature/outdoors, and play. For you, they may be something else. When I’m doing something that meets all of my value sets I’m living my passion. If I’m missing one of the value sets (e.g., snowboarding alone or golfing with an anal, uptight partner) I’m happy at best, but not passionate.

 If you’re in search of a passion start with understanding your core value sets – those ideals and activities that are sacred to you. When you are aligned with your core values you’re body will tell you, just as it will when you are not.

 What are your passions and how much of your time do you spending doing them?

 I’m going to challenge you here. Consider that time with family, your life partner or your work (and I know work is not a passion for a lot of people–more on that another time) are givens, meaning, it’s not a big stretch for many people to be passionate about these areas–I want to hear about your passions outside of these life domains.

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About the Author (Author Profile)

Executive coach, top team facilitator, author and speaker. I work with individual leaders and their teams to help navigate personal and professional transitions and to increase leadership capacity and improve communication and relationship skills. I founded my coaching firm in 2001 following 12 years as a CEO. Check out more on me and my coaching process in my book "The Business of Wanting More: Why Some Executives Move from Success to Fulfillment and Others Don't"

Comments (2)

  1. Huck O'Connor

    Brian, for me it’s surfing. I get the same feeling you’re describing- i think it’s because the activity fulfills some of my passions- exercise, being close to the ocean, and time time for reflection. What’s interesting for me is that i find that feeding this passion centers me in other aspects of my life as well- work, relationships, etc.

    The only thing i worry about sometimes is that i like to surf so much that i start to wonder if it’s more drug than passion. Can you get too much of a good thing is this regard? Thoughts?

    Merry Christmas!


    • Huck – Great to hear from you – sometimes on the steeps I imagine I am surfing when I’m on my snowboard. I love the point you make about the carry-over of a passion to other areas of your life.

      Yes, so when does a passion become an escape or addiction?

      One consideration is being conscious of when you are going toward something and when you are going away from something. If you follow a passion in an effort to escape pain or unpleasant situations the pain doesn’t go away. It needs to be addressed and the avoidance of the pain/discomfort will turn a passion into an addiction. Check in with yourself and ask “what am I avoiding addressing?”

      The other way passions become addictions is if you aren’t fully present when doing the activity. I can play 9 holes of golf and feel full and complete because my mind is clear and I am present to so much of the experience. On other days I can play 18 holes and because I am distracted, angry about the past or fearful about the future I miss so much that I leave hungry and feeling like I need to get back on the course. Think about it, when you aren’t really there for something, even it was something you really enjoyed, you’ll be jonesing for more.

      I will leave it to you to consider if anything here is true for you.

      Bless you and I hope you catch a lot of big waves in 2011.


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