What Does Follow Your Passion Really Mean?

Posted by Trevor on 7 January 2013 | 3 Comments

What Does Follow Your Passion Really Mean?

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I was asked this in an email last week. I was about to reply but had a scheduled radio interview coming up. Prior to these interviews I normally like to research online for information about the radio show and its host. I feel a greater connection to the audience that way and the conversation goes more smoothly because I feel that I know the interviewer a little bit.

On this occasion I had a time crunch, and did the show somewhat blindly. The host called me and I had not done my homework. I was surprised how well the interview went. The host asked simple but profound questions, and gave off a very calm energy. For a long time now I have been able to “feel” people’s energy whether they are in my presence or a long way off. The more time you spend connected in nature the easier this becomes. This host was unusually calm and present. I’d use the word “serene.” Whenever I encounter that, I know I am with someone who is on their true path and knows it. This host had found his purpose in life and I could feel it… I could feel his passion.

Many people mistake being passionate with excitement and noisy cheerleading. Some dictionaries even define the word in those terms. Oddly though its Greek derivation means “to suffer or endure.”

For me it is an emotion that comes somewhere between the two. It is a powerful compulsion. It requires no jumping up and down or screaming, and it is impossible to ignore.

When you follow your passion, you are on purpose, and you have a sense of knowing about it. There is a great calmness in your emotions. You just know where you are supposed to be right now, and where you are supposed to go. There is no need for excitement and there is no fear because doubt has been removed. It is serenity.

A few years ago I met an artist. He had been an actor, a life he described as stressful. One night he had a dream in which he realized he had taken a wrong turn in life. Although he had never once held an artist’s paintbrush in his hand, he awoke knowing he is an artist. Despite the ridicule he had to endure, he quit his acting profession and started painting. He had no fear of whether he could actually do it or what would come of his efforts. His paintings were a hit and he now shows them in top galleries all over the country.  I wanted him to create a “piece of art” for an area of our house. We met and simply talked about my work. I was writing the first draft of Three Simple Steps at the time, and I described passionately the purpose of the book. A few weeks later he showed up with the completed painting, something so perfect I felt tears well up. He had titled it “serenity.”

For me, passion is that juncture where purpose and knowing meet. It is hard to describe, but there can be no mistaking it when you get there. At that point, nothing in the universe can derail you. Obstacles become experiences, and you don’t need to convince yourself of success because you just know. The stress of no longer having to believe falls away, and is replaced by a sense of knowing. That is where the Three Simple Steps takes you.

Intrigued to have encountered true passion (as I define it) from a radio show host, I later went online to find out who he is. Greg Cellini turned out to be “Brother Greg,” a man who relinquished a 29-year corporate career to become a Franciscan friar. His ministry includes the “Thank God for Monday” show on WSOU FM every Saturday at 8:30 a.m. In his black habit, Brother Gregory broadcasts the half-hour show from Seton Hall in New Jersey.

His online biography tells that as a youth, one of Cellini’s role models was sportscaster Marv Albert. But a livelihood in the corporate world seemed a more realistic future, just as it was for his late father who worked for 45 years at a Bank in New York.

Lured by a full-time job, which included tuition as a fringe benefit, he started straight after graduation from high school in 1977. As promotions came at work, he grew increasingly unsettled, and he knew another job was not the answer.

He compared this time in his life to the beginning of the conversion of Saint Francis of Assisi. “What once was sweet became sour,” he said. “I was finding my volunteering in the church was giving me more satisfaction than my job.”

When his parish gave him an award for service in 2005, he knew he had reached a crossroads. (Ah that juncture again!) Before the tabernacle he recalls praying, “‘I’ve screwed this up enough, you take it over.’ It was a moment of surrender.”

At his company, he availed himself of employee counseling. Following a diagnostic test, his coach told him his profile fit more with religious than corporate life. It had never occurred to him before and “he was overcome by a sense of purpose and peace.” (his words not mine) In October 2005, while researching religious communities, he found the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, N.Y. The ministries of the 150-year-old community include schools, parishes, hospitals, soup kitchens and prisons and Cellini entered its formation program in September 2006, four months after he left his corporate life behind.

“I thought I’d make it to 50, retire and do consulting, or work part-time,” Cellini said. “But this is where it’s at. I believe this is the life God wants me to live.”

I was not surprised to discover this brief biography, nor to read his own description of how it felt when he found his purpose, which matches exactly my definition of passion. I felt it when he interviewed me. His story, however, better explains what I mean by “following your passion,” than I could have achieved by simply replying to the email.

If you follow the Three Simple Steps, you will find your passion and follow it home.

Cheers

Trev

3 Comments

  1. Coral Levang says:

    This is one of the posts you’ve written that has had much impact on me. Thank you for your straight-shooting approach, Trevor.

  2. Tom says:

    Great story! Keep them coming.

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