Do you remember the children’s story about the tortoise and the hare?
The hare boasted that he could beat the slow moving tortoise in a race. He was certain that his speed would see him cross the finish line well ahead of the tortoise. But his bluster was ultimately his undoing, because his over confidence led him to take a nap half way through the race, missing the tortoise as he sauntered past him to victory. The tortoise won by being focused and never giving up.
Slow and steady wins the race.
This is a lesson that I learned a long time ago and is a foundation of my way of being. Slow progress, is still progress and that is a part of my theory around purpose.
Purpose is the “why” to what you do in life. It is part of your belief system – the reason you get out of bed each morning. It gives you conviction to do, what it is you do, everyday. It’s why you create, or teach, or serve others. Purpose is your framework to give meaning to your existence. It is your vehicle.
When you have purpose, you look to the long game, knowing that worthwhile goals take time.
That is the lesson of the tortoise.
Passion on the other hand, is the fuel that brings that vehicle to life and then propels it further down the road.
Through out your existence, there will be times when your life will move quickly. In a short amount of time, your life can experience immense change.
The milestones of life can do this. Events such as weddings, births, deaths – the big stuff. These turning points are usually driven by some form of emotion and that is what passion really is:
Love and hate are two of the strongest, most volatile fuels of passion. The passion of love for another can see a person do amazing, selfless acts, like leaving your family and friends and moving across the country to be with that special person. Or giving up on your personal dreams to help a loved one achieve their own. Even something as dramatic as donating one of your body parts to save another, can be motivated by the passion of love.
Alternately, hate can compel you to take passionate action as well. For example, an intense anger for what a corporation is doing to the environment might drive you to stand at their gates, placard waving in protest. Or having a rigid, unwavering belief so full of venom, that it leads to shunning a family member because of a difference of values. Even committing a crime of passion as heinous as the act of murder is a hate fueled passion.
Passion lights a fire within you and excites your senses. And prolonged passion, can drive you to commit to a new purpose.
So which one is more important? Is it the ignition of action caused by passion, or is it the firm belief of the why, that leads to creating a foundation for longevity?
In fact, passion and purpose are opposite sides of the same coin.
Think of a dream of yours that you hold dear. Passion is the flame that keeps that dream alive, but purpose is the common sense that creates a plan to make it happen. For dreams to live and become reality, you need both.
Using the analogy of purpose being the vehicle that holds the why of a dream, one quickly learns that you can not steer a parked car. All the reasons in the world will not make the dream happen if you do not apply the spark of passion to the vehicle’s engine and get it to lurch forward.
And yet the bright flash of passion will burn out quickly if there is no steady source of the fuel that only the momentum of purpose can supply.
Lust and love are another example of passion and purpose.
Who doesn’t love the excitement that a new romantic relationships can bring. You find yourself wanting to be with your new partner all the time. The desire, the longing, the lusting, the passion – these are heady emotions.
But if the relationship evolves into love, then the emotions mature into the warmth of certainty and commitment, which in turn creates a bond and a reason to stay together for the long haul. The partnership of love has created a purpose for both of your lives.
But be warned. Both passion and purpose have their negative sides as well.
Folks who never get past the dreamer stage, tend to be addicted to the high that passionate emotions like possibility and imagining can provide. Adrenaline junkies, those who seek out risky behaviours and live life on the edge, are passion addicts taken to the extreme.
On the flip side, people who are driven by purpose only, tend to exhibit traits of a martyr. They are so blinded by the goal, that they are willing to loose everything else that is good in their life, to see it through.
To live a balanced life, there must be some doses of passion along the way to re-energize your life and remind you of why it is that you chose to commit to the purpose in the first place.
So which is more important, passion or purpose? The short answer is neither, and both.
As human beings, we are emotional creatures. It is in our nature to feel deeply. We are set on this earth to experience and to learn. But in order to evolve past the point where are emotions control us, we need to create reasons to have our emotions under control.
That is why, to have a full life experience, we need to synergize both passion and purpose together so that not only do we have a good life, but that we create and accomplish our wildest dreams as well.
And that is a purpose worth being passionate about.