Performing our passion

I’ve been reading Ken Robinson’s book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything and greatly enjoying it.  Thinking about our passion and our careers is not always something we do, as work often leads us away from our passions in life.  Certainly there are some people who have successfully married their passions with their professional lives – this is what Robinson would call being in your “element”.

In a recent posting on the Harvard Business Review – Tell Your Whole Story in an Interview Lara Galinsky makes an interesting point about how we think of our stories as beginning when we first collected a pay check.  Of course early experiences greatly shape who we are including where we grew up, cultural influences, our family histories, our early mentors (that kindergarden or 2nd grade teacher we loved), the games we loved to play, the books we used to read, etc.

Robinson is making a similar case for exploring our passions and creativity to help us find where we belong professionally.  Robinson writes about highly successful people from all walks of life, many of whom did not do well in school, found communities of like-minded people, and created their lives by following their passion.

When I was reading Galinsky’s article it reminded me that in a recent interview with a potential client we were talking about what makes a good recruiter.  A lot of what we do is on the telephone – cold calling, interviewing, networking.  Then I (unexpectedly) shared that when I was a child my mother was in the PR business, then later in life she moved into talent management and she always seemed to have a telephone in her hand, so it’s not surprising that I learned how to “work the phones”.

When we look back at childhood – when play was pointless – what were we drawn to?  Or, as Galinsky puts it, “reflect back on a time when work and play were not always distinguishable”.  When we were bored in school what were we doing while the teacher was droning?  What were our dreams and fantasies?  What are our dreams and fantasies now?  Can we use our passion to recreate ourselves professionally and how do we go about this?

What is the performance we need to pursue our dream?  Recently I was talking to a dear friend about developing my business; she is a very successful and savvy business woman.  She said that I must be willing to fail, be fearless, and resilient.  I imagine a director telling me that my character is fearless and resilient.  What would that performance look like?

All of us can be who we are and who we are not.  Performance helps us be who we are becoming.  By fully embracing our passion we can create ourselves anew.  We can jump into the unknown, knowing we will fail, and that we will use our failure to grow, to build and to be fearless.  We must be resilient.  How?

By finding what Robinson calls our “tribe” – a community, a company, a grouping of people who share our passion and desires.  We create socially; as relational beings we can only create and recreate ourselves with others.


2 thoughts on “Performing our passion

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Esben. It’s a joy to build our tribe together and it means so much to me that I helped you find your element. Looking forward to seeing you at Performing the World in October!

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