I recently read this question and request in a LinkedIn group to which I belong: "How strongly do a woman's life passions influence her career today? I'm doing some research for an article and would love to hear your thoughts!"
There were dozens of responses to that question and I read many of them. The vast majority said that passion is key, critical, THE most important thing in their own career choices and performance. A very few said they felt passion was way over-lauded and that they relied more upon intelligent decision and commitment.
We could open the debate on whether these women were caught up in a semantic web, but that's to be expected. We always think that other people think like we do, but they rarely do.
I've vacillated with this topic over the last 10 years. I used to believe that passion was EVERYTHING and felt pity for those who honestly confessed that they didn't feel passionate about anything. They seemed so lost and uninspired. I couldn't understand how someone could spend 40+ hours a week at a job they didn't LOVE!
I used to hear people say, "This is just a job. I have to do this to live, but my real interests are other things." Then they'd say their family, or cooking, or traveling, or a hobby, or whatever, was what really turned their crank. Again, I felt they were really missing the boat. Why not do something you LOVED to bring in money.
Squarely in the 'backside' of my life, I've reconsidered this question of the importance of passion many times. I still believe in passion as a driving force, but I've also seen that my definition of passion often fed my ego and not necessarily my spirit. My passion was quite self-absorbed. After living through some very financially challenging times, and remaining aware of the 'reason' behind the times, not just the circumstances themselves, I've come to believe that the passion I used to so lovingly coddle was just my ego wanting to have its way. In hindsight that passion seemed superficial and not life-sustaining.
There's a different kind of passion I'm feeling these days. It doesn't 'burn' quite as HOT. But, it burns with a deep power of compelling contribution. My need to realize egotistical wants is evolving into a longing to use my talent and influence to move the world. Still might sound egotistical on first blush (what red-blooded person doesn't want to make a difference?), but the FEELING is quite different. It's less about me and more about "what wants to come."
I recently got that phrase from Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future by Senge, Jaworski, Scharmer, Flowers. The phrase hit with the strength of a truth once known, but forgotten. We are each here to be of service to 'what wants to come.' To what is in the evolutionary process of becoming - even without our knowledge. Its origin is outside of ourselves. It's bigger than any one of us. We're here to shepherd it into existence.
So, my passion has transformed from one in which I identify what I want to do and go for it, to one in which I see what is imminent and use my unique talents and capabilities to serve IT. To serve an idea and creation bigger than anything I could individually think up. And, the real cosmic joke is, in being of service to this reality that 'wants to come,' my reality is enriched as well.
Is this flavor of passion any less meaningful or inspiring? No. But, it IS different. In a way that cannot be fully described, I fear. If you know of what I speak, then you know. If you don't, I'm afraid there may be no way of conveying it to you. It's something each of us must come to on our own, in our own way and timing. And we all will!