I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, “What am I passionate about?” or “What inspires me and stirs my soul?”

Passion is an intense emotion, a compelling enthusiasm or desire for something. When you try to do everything in your power to turn an idea into reality you are probably being driven by passion. Passion is the quality that keeps you going when the going gets tough and the original idea starts to crumble. When you truly feel passion for something you instinctively find ways to nurture it.

I have often facilitated groups where, as a part of the learning process, participants identify their priority values.  Invariably, passion features high on the list, so it is viewed as something of importance like a value.

Most people have an abundance of passion as they start their life journey. Tragically, some have significant setbacks and wounds at any stage during their lives that act as passion killers. These people become permanently, or at best temporarily, consigned to leading lives devoid of the benefits of high levels of passion. They exist on a continuum from unaware that they lack passion, to the other extreme where they are aware they lack it, but can’t tap into this precious resource. The situation is aggravated if their lack of passion is associated with mental health or substance abuse challenges. Symptoms of these are reactive blaming, increased bouts of anger, hyper anxiety or depression.

The setback and wound scenario described above is hard for the loved ones of the affected person, but more importantly it’s harder for the victim. The mental toughness challenge for the victim is to access and accept the best help for their situation. However, the description “best help” rings in my ear as I’m acutely aware of the pitfalls of the mental health medical model and equally concerned about the lack of scientific verification in alternative methods. The challenge for loved ones is to balance trying to help whilst retaining compassion for the other’s situation.

The underpinning logic of passion lies in our primordial neurological baggage.  We are hardwired with passion. Although when passion is fueling an intimate relationship, the word “logic” isn’t always applicable. I recall a Blaise Pascal quote, which I am paraphrasing, “Love has its reasons about which reason knows naught.” Or one could say that where the heart leads, the mind will follow.

Martin Luther King provided an enduring example of someone with great reserves of passion. He channeled passion into purpose, which was contained in his famous dream speech. His dream was a big, bold and audacious intention for eradicating racism (King, 1963).

King urged people to let their dreams shape their realities, rather than allowing their realities to dictate their dreams. He wanted us to go beyond perceived limits imposed by past or present circumstances.

Michael Dell, an IT innovator, reputedly asked his staff, “To peer around corners and past clouds, finding limbs worth going out on.”

Steve Jobs put it this way, “Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have something to lose. Your time is limited so don’t waste it. Almost everything falls away in the face of death, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure. There is no reason not to follow your dream” (Isaacson, 2011).

I think it’s reasonable to assume that you’ll vigorously pursue and, when needed, defend a dream originating from passion. On the other hand, if you don’t have a dream steeped in passion, it’s unlikely to be sustainable over time.

Passion provided the motivation that paved the way to King’s purpose, expressed as a dream, but I suggest we should express purpose not simply in a dream but in a personal strategy.  This strategy should contain a vision of where we want to go, what we want to do and with who we want to share the journey. These combine as a major contributor to having a sense of meaning.

Dr Steve Harris. Motivational speaker, team building, conference speaker, keynote speaker