Yesterday we asked the question, is passion rare? If you define passion in binary; it’s either on or off; you either have it 100% or not at all, then maybe it is rare.
But passion isn’t binary, it’s on a continuum. We’ve all experienced various degrees of this pull towards an activity or idea, from interest and mild curiosity to enthusiasm and full blown passion.
Here’s what it looks like turned vertically:
In addition to varying in intensity, passions can vary in amount.
Let’s add an x axis and make a graph!
You can have many passions or few. You can be intensely interested in your pursuits, mildly curious or anywhere in between. And you’ll certainly change where you plot yourself on the graph as time passes.
The graph below shows an example of someone who is currently passionate and focused. This is the kind of person that I think Cal Newport had in mind when he claimed, in the book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” that passion is rare. He concedes that some few people like athletes and musicians might have started their careers with this single minded focus.
This is a great place to be. You know what you want to pursue and your strong interest will help you motivate yourself to build the skills that will help you grow into the person you want to be.
But just because you’re here now, doesn’t mean you’ll stay here. Life changes. My friend Rhonda was a dedicated and successful gymnast until injuries forced her to find new passions to pursue.
And don’t worry if this isn’t you. There is lots of room on the Passion Graph for everyone and every situation and it can be helpful to find out where you currently are.
This person might not think they have any passions. They may be mildly interested in a few things. Maybe something in their world makes them curious, but they probably haven’t followed up on it if they have been on this part of the graph for awhile.
This person is currently mildly interested in lots of different areas. They have many potential areas in which to grow their passion.
This person is full of enthusiasms and interests. This can be an energized way to live and it can also leave a person feeling confused about what to do next; which option to fully pursue.
Here is a table that represents the four main areas on the graph.
If you are in the Low Intensity part of the graph, in Part 3 we’ll talk about ways to increase your passion. Even if you have passions in your life, this can also be useful if you are in a particular situation, like a class in school or a project at work that doesn’t interest you.
These techniques can help you increase your interest and start to feel real enthusiasm for almost anything, as long as it doesn’t conflict with your values.
If you are currently in the high amount side of the graph, I can relate. This is where I tend to live and I’m still learning the best ways to navigate a wide array of interests. In Part 4, I’ll add some ideas and resources I’ve found helpful so far.
The Passion Series
Part One: Follow Your Passion?
Part Two: Where Are You On the Passion Continuum?
Part Three: Six Sure Fire Ways to Get More Interested