A Dispassionate Passion Play

I’m absolutely BOMBARDED these days with “passion” talk in the discussion of career-building. And for good reason: I’ve taken a daring leap into solo-preneurship, and anyone will tell you that it takes passion to break out on your own like this, whether your interest is music or tax law. There’s a lot of talk out on the interwebs about being authentic and true to yourself, and being emotionally invested in your work; I end up following a lot of life coaches and other assorted passion-preachers because, hey–I’m an artist, and that’s where my heart lives, right?

But then I wake up one morning and think, “You know what, that was the stupidest idea I ever had; there’s no way in hell I can do that.” Or, “Crap–I’m gonna have to practice for 3 straight hours to get that song working.” Or, “You know what, I just don’t care today.”

Let’s face it–I’m not passionate all the time. Not in the sense of being emotionally turned up to 11 at every moment. And it makes me wonder if my passion for this business I’m running has died out. It worries me a little. In the absence of emotional turn-on, what is there?

Maybe more than I think. I’ve been keeping an eye on Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz these days (much like nearly 2/3 of southeast Michigan) and in the face of his now 5-0 record this season, he’s been keeping things remarkably cool. Sure, he’ll do a hearty fist-pump with every touchdown, but every time he comes to the mic, he barely smiles as he serves up slice after slice of humble pie, remarking on how Detroit hasn’t yet played its best football, how they need to do better in some areas. It reminds me a lot of Mike Babcock, head coach of the Red Wings, who for his stoicism and tenacity has become a virtual god in this town. You never see him smile (unless he’s hoisting the Stanley Cup), but anyone who knows Detroit hockey knows he doesn’t have to. He simply wins. And if he loses, he doesn’t lose his mind. He’s never stopped by failure. Nor is he stopped by success. And Schwartz is now joining him in the ranks of the Dead Serious Coaches’ Club.

Schwartz’s coolness reminds me of another aspect of passion that easily gets lost on people: the pure WILL that outlives the emotion.

Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? “Let this cup pass from me”? Christ’s own Passion–THE Passion–was an exercise of will and acceptance. And he wanted to say “NO” to it in the worst way, like many of us do, at the 11th hour. But we all know what he did instead.

I have to do more than just want things.  If all I did was follow what I wanted, I’d just be eating truffles on the couch every night. Passion encompasses so much more than the emotional high that comes with its fulfillment. It goes deeper, sometimes deeper than can be seen by the average person. I have to be willing to take pain and loss and failure, and not lose my mind in the process.

In other words, I have to be dispassionate.

There are two sides to everything, and passion is no exception. And this is heartening to me, really. The will always survives when the emotional drive falls away. I don’t have to feel everything, all the time. I don’t have to be stopped by the devastation or failure or the rush of success.

How does the dispassionate will show up for you?

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