A couple weeks ago, I was asked whether or not I was passionate about my job (Marketing Manager) and about my line of work (consulting for nonprofits). I have never asked myself if I was passionate about anything, I always assumed that I already was simply for the mere fact that I would not spend any time or effort on any one particular activity or thought unless I felt strongly about it. This was my understanding of my own expression of passion.
Although incredibly shocked and highly offended that my level of passion, or rather its existence, was questioned, I realized some very important things from that conversation: that the definition of passion, and how its outward manifestation is interpreted, is relative to all.
HOW DO WE DEFINE PASSION?
A little bit more context on my profession and how I came to realize the misunderstanding: I have been a marketing and communications professional in all of my previous positions. Growing up, I had many professions I wanted to pursue: business, law, international relations, and entertainment to name a few. Prior to completing high school, I settled on studying communications for college, not only because it was a natural fit, but also because I knew my skills would be malleable across all industries. At a young age I knew that I wanted to have the ability to work across many industries without having to be tied down to just one.
The formulation of my career was built on my belief that the role of a marketing and communications professional was that of a translator and executor: to create material out of ideas given to me based on knowledge that I digest for public consumption. My belief has been that my technical and creative skills are what make me a successful marketing and communications professional, not that I am passionate about one particular industry.
The formulation of my career was built on my belief that the role of a marketing and communications professional was that of a translator and executor: to create material out of ideas given to me based on knowledge that I digest for public consumption.
In that conversation from two weeks ago, my investigator had defined the role of a marketing and communications professional in the following context: that because in-house staff in a marketing and communications department have the crucial role of packaging an organization’s mission into words, passion for the organization and its core offerings and values must derive from the persons crafting the messages to be used for public consumption.
Once this was explained to me, it was then that I realized that passion was being defined in two different meanings due to two distinct understandings of what my job is and that there was no harm meant from asking.
HOW DO WE INTERPRET THE OUTWARD MANIFESTATION OF PASSION?
A natural follow up and borderline defensive question: why was the existence of my passion being questioned in the first place? According to my investigator, I lacked the amount of enthusiasm my investigator needed to be convinced that I was passionate in the first place, and lacked any other form of metrics to measure that my passion was indeed effective enough through what I produced. Without being given this key piece of information, it would have been easy to feel as if the questioning was unfair and that these hidden perceptions blind sighted me, but in now knowing what was being used to gauge my level of interest, we came to the conclusion that the missing key was communication.
I was asked to allow this conversation to sink in for a while before I decided on an answer to the question. My investigator probably did not think that their probing could spiral into a thousand more questions and a million more conversations after the fact, but it did, in the strangest of ways. In October of last year, I completed a book titled, “The 5 Love Languages,” and was completely fascinated on how I can successfully love another person. The book essentially breaks down the ways in which we give and receive love and how recognizing how identifying another person’s idea of what it feels like to be loved leads to a more successful understanding of your efforts. What can be better understood can be better appreciated.
Readers are repeatedly reminded that we often do not feel loved by another individual only giver typically gives in the way they wish to receive love for themselves, and forget to give love the way in which the receiver wants and understands. In the simplest of explanations, we can have the best intentions in saying the phrase, ‘I love you’ in a foreign language, but if the individual you talk to does not speak the same language; they cannot possibly understand your what you mean. That is why there are love languages.
I once read the following words online somewhere: “Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you.” With consideration to the 5 love languages, this attitude would not get anyone very far. It is not a matter of questioning how much you love someone or how passionate you feel towards something, it is whether you are expressing that devotion in a way that another individual understands. In the case of my investigator, I was not communicating my existing passion in a way that they could understand or appreciate which therefore led them to believe that I was not passionate at all. I was not speaking the language they needed that would successfully communicate that I, in fact, am just as passionate as I feel inside. The outward manifestation of my passion was not easily understood although I knew it was there.
If you find that you cannot recognize someone else’s passion, may you be open enough to ask them, “What does passion look like for you?” Should you find yourself caught in the questioning of your own passion by another, my hope is that their innocent curiosities will not cause you to doubt what you already know about yourself…
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