‘I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.’ – Einstein
A few weeks ago I was sorting through some old boxes in my parents basement when I stumbled on an Art Journal from a media class I took in Eleventh grade (circa 2000.) One of the exercises was a run-of-the-mill 20 Questions type deal.
What was my favorite color? Blue.
Favorite musician/band? Blur.
What did I want to do when I grew up? Director/Writer/Actor/Musician.
And so it was: The curse of a multi-passionate life. Should I focus on the music? Or the acting? Or the writing? This is just a glimpse into my inner dialogue for the majority of my teenage years and twenties. It was confusing, and ultimately I wasn’t giving 100% to any of my passions. I felt dejected by them – not at all like they were a gift.
I know I’m not the only one. In fact, I believe Millennials may be the most multi-passionate generation in history. And this ability to have many passions is simply a small part of the greater picture: we are the multi-tasking generation. For better or for worse. We were told from our earliest years that we could be, or do anything, and we took that quite literally. Instead of picking one thing, or doing one thing, we do many.
As I wrote earlier, for much of my youth having many passions felt more like a curse than a blessing. I didn’t have clarity, and I didn’t know where to properly place my attention in order to reach my goals. It wasn’t until I reached my late twenties that I realized how fortunate I was: my many passions allowed me to diversify my skills, manage my expectations in situations, and curiously explore uncharted territory without fear. Three areas that are important to anyone who hopes to step into a leadership role.
I eventually realized that being multi-passionate isn’t a curse – it’s something that allowed me to grow and foster my leadership skills.
3-Steps for a Passionate Life
To help you recognize how this could be true for you as well, I’ve created a short and simple 3-step exercise:
- Create a list of your passions – the ones that you’ve actively pursued, or made strides to pursue.
- Under each passion, list off at least 2 lessons, habits or traits you’ve gained either while in pursuit of, or while actually practicing the passion. Look beyond the obvious and take a look at disciplines and skills.
- Now connect the leadership dots. Next to each item listed, think about how that lesson, habit, skill, or discipline can enhance your leadership capabilities. Imagine scenarios where you may pull from your passion toolbox!
Our passions may not always play out how we imagined they would, but they do provide us with incredible opportunities for growth. I’ve come to realize that the real beauty of passion isn’t the arrival, it’s in its pursuit. That is where the life-long lessons live.