Dr Simon Taylor, Director of the Masters in Finance at Cambridge University’s Judge School of Business, recently posted about the Power of Passion on his blog.
As the student who was quoted as saying she has a “passion for human development” (human progress, actually, and specifically through the development of stable financial systems), I would like to argue that the word passion was not merely a mis-placed noun. Everyone, I believe, has some underlying value, some core and central belief, that makes their life “worth living”. It could be family or children, a shot at fame or power, the ability to build or make something, the freedom of travel or adventure. It is the driver at the centre of that person – the thing that makes them tick. It’s not the same as ambition, although they may be entwined. It is rather a pervasive, incessant theme that makes every day worth tackling.
What then, should we call this? It is more than enthusiasm. I think there’s a good case to be made for calling it passion. And if it happens to extend to what a person does for a living, instead of to their hobby, does it make it any less than passion?
Of course, as Dr Taylor pointed out, passion seldom aligns with an individual’s career, and it might be quite suitable in that case just to strive for something you’re good at. But if a man gets his sense of meaning from “improving logistic efficiency in the supermarket supply chain” (admittedly a rare bird), shouldn’t he call it a passion?
As Dr. Taylor did, I might give similar advice to my fellow students: that they shouldn’t expect to find their passion in their work. If they do, that’s great. But contrary to the current public fashion of finding your passion at work, it’s no more worthy than finding your passion in caring for your family or building your collection of rare and ancient coins. I would argue however that passion, above all, is what makes a life worth living, and if you’ve found it you know what your life is about. So instead of giving this colourful noun to a career that you merely enjoy, save it for the thing that moves you.
And if it so happens that you find your raison-d’être in human progress, particularly through the development of stable financial systems, well…some find passion in the strangest places.