Do NOT Chase Your Passions (Part 2)
THE ONLY TYRANT
Mahatma Gandhi wrote:
“The only tyrant I accept in this world is the 'still small voice' within me.”
This is the "voice" of your soul—the essence of who you are.
That voice tells us the next step on our path.
But two things stop us from following this voice.
1) We can't hear the voice.
2) We're afraid to follow it.
The first is usually because other, very loud voices surround us.
Prestige is a common one.
Money is another.
Obligation or the expectations of others, those are big ones.
These drown out the small, still voice within us.
It takes discipline to quiet these other voices and a well-trained “inner ear” to hear what your soul is telling you.
But even when we can hear our inner voice speak, we might be afraid to take action.
It usually asks us to face our inner "dragons" and die to the life we're living in order to "rise again" into a larger self, and embark on a larger life.
Usually, there’s nothing more terrifying than abandoning the safety of a life we know well—even if the walls that kept us safe have now become a cage.
Don’t get trapped in a teenager’s dream.
Paul Graham, the founder of YCombinator, recounts how he knew a woman who decided in high school that she would become a doctor.
She let nothing stop her—including the fact that she didn't like doctoring very much.
She followed prestige, money, and maybe even the expectations of others, and “succeeded.”
But she found herself trapped inside a passion-career dreamed up by a teenager, rather than doing work that's truly in line with her gifts and needs.
Think how much more she could have offered the world if she realized (let’s pretend) her calling was not as a doctor but as an advocate for healthcare reform.
Perhaps that same unstoppable determination she used to become a doctor would have allowed her to snap through reams and reams of red tape and revolutionized the hospital system?
And perhaps she’d find a truly lasting source of passion in this work.
The impact we can have on the world is so much greater when we follow our calling and use our gifts in service of our soul’s call.
Fulfilling our soul's call leads to purpose—and as a byproduct, passion.
Instead, most of us begin by chasing passion, which is based in desire for things we like, but not what we need.
Or, if we're ambitious, we may end up chasing something worse than passion: prestige, power, and adoration.
If we chase these, says Graham, instead of doing things we like, we slave away at things we'd like to like.
It takes time to understand ourselves well enough to see where we fit in the scheme of our wider community.
It takes time to figure out where our innate gifts and inclinations can be put to good use not only to heal others but also to heal ourselves.
Often we need help from someone who can reflect back to us who we truly are and what we truly want.
This could be a therapist, a coach, a good friend or partner, time spent alone or in nature.
When you find your calling, it doesn't come with an overheated ego or the trumpet call of grandiosity.
It's a quiet and obvious recognition of truth, like stating that the clouds are white or the grass is green.
Jim Collins writes about it like this:
"When you get your [calling] right, it has the quiet ping of truth, like a single, clear, perfectly struck note hanging in the air in the hushed silence of a full auditorium at the end of a quiet movement of a Mozart piano concerto. There is no need to say much of anything; the quiet truth speaks for itself."
Before you quit your day-job and run off to pursue your passion, stop and ask yourself: what do I really believe in?
Listen for the answer. Then (and here's the hard part) heed it.
Follow your calling and purpose will come.
I know what you’re probably thinking right about now:
“This is fantastic! But … how do I find my calling?”
Find out in the next Key: