Passion comes in many forms. I’m focused on the version of passion that is “boundless enthusiasm”. Looking up enthusiasm in the dictionary, I learned it is derived from the Greek root entheos, which means inspired by god. Hmmm, boundless inspiration by god! When’s the last time you experienced your work or career that way? Not lately? Never? Read on!
As a Boy Scout leader, one skill we teach our scouts is starting and feeding a fire. It’s a pretty simple recipe – tinder, kindling, fuel and a catalyst to get the fire started. Tinder has two parts – something easily flammable like cotton, dryer lint or shredded paper and sticks the size of pencil lead. Kindling is a little bigger wood – a finger-sized to thumb-sized stick. Fuel is a large chunk of wood. A catalyst is a match or lighter.
You’ve got to lay the parts together in a specific way to be successful in getting the fire started. You put the tinder down first. You lay the cotton, lint or paper down first and gently lay the pencil-lead sticks on top. Touch your match or lighter to the bottom of the tinder and watch the fire grow. As the tinder blazes brightly, add a few pieces of kindling on it. Continue adding kindling until it’s burning hotly. Then add a piece or two of fuel, and when the initial fuel logs are burning strongly, add more fuel.
Once your fire is burning, it needs air and more fuel to continue burning brightly and hotly. If you don’t tend to your fire’s needs, it will cool off and go out.
Just as a fire can dwindle if it’s not tended, you passion can dwindle too if it’s not tended. You may listen to your parents, family or friends who talk you out of a career that won’t pay enough money or provide you enough security. You grow numb about what inspires you by buying things, getting in debt and having to work just to pay your bills – you know, “I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go.” Or you eat or drink too much or take drugs to take the edge off the emptiness you feel for not doing what you love. It’s like starting the tinder but not putting any kindling or fuel on it.
Anthony Farmer, in his essay in A Guide to Getting It: Purpose and Passion, describes passion “as a fire that can never be truly put out… a fire that never dies that will blaze again at the will of its owner.” “Without passion you cut off vitality to our heart, your spirit and to your life.”
So how do you rekindle the fire of passion in your life? Do some inner work fist to reconnect to your inspiration, which means to “breathe in”. What did you love to do as a child? What makes you lose track of time as you do it? What do you lose yourself in as you do it? What possible works did you leave behind because they didn’t fit others’ expectations of you? What would you do if money were not an object? Answering these questions gives you the air you need to rekindle your inner fire.
Next gather your inner tinder. Pick small ways to try the things that inspire you. Set easily accomplished goals that will give your self-esteem a boost. Make these goals specific, realistic, measurable, achievable and timely. Ignite this tinder with your love and watch it start to blaze. As it burns brighter, gather your kindling – slightly bigger, more ambitious goals. Goals that stretch you, give you more self-confidence and allow your inner passion to burn brighter and hotter. Lay your kindling on the little blaze started with your tinder and add more as the flames burn higher.
Next, gather your fuel. Your confidence in your abilities will have grown as your passion burns hotter, so try even bigger, long-term goals. Find ways to fuel your desire so that you passion serves others. A fire to keep only one person warm quickly burns out.
Finally, lay in a long-term supply of fuel, keep your fire supplied with air and stoke it regularly. Rejuvenate yourself and your fire – take out the spent ashes, and put more fuel on it often. Love yourself, do the things you love so they will nourish your inner fire. Set bigger and bigger goals for loving service to others and tend them carefully. Anthony Farmer reminds us that, “Passion comes from being engaged in life, all aspects of life.” He quotes James Roberts Rowe, “Putting your heart, mind and soul into even the smallest tasks is the essence of passion.” To quote Mother Teresa, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Use your passion to do your unique small things with great love.
Copyright 2005, Fruition Coaching. All Rights Reserved.
Rick Hanes is a life and career coach, writer, outdoorsman, gardener and tireless advocate for living life with purpose and passion. He founded Fruition Coaching in 2004 to lead the fight against leading lives of quiet desperation. Check his website at http://www.fruitioncoaching.com to contact him about rekindling the fire of your life!