As I laid there, my head still nuzzled in the soft embrace of the pillows, I could feel the warm glow of sunshine shining through the window. As I opened my eyes I could see it just cresting the horizon and gracing the world with the dawn of a new day. I felt good as I slide off the edge of my bed and headed to the shower. I had been up late the night before, in fact, I only had maybe 4 to 5 hours of sleep behind me but I was feeling great. The previous night had seen me pouring over code of my newly minted project and I had managed to get the core structures in place – I could see it start to come together. In fact this whole week I have been caught up in the project, every spare minute spent sketching, planning, and designing. I have notes scattered everywhere throughout the house; database designs on the coffee table, different UI layouts on the counters … I would not be surprised if you found sketches in the bathroom. I could not sleep, I needed to keep working. This is going to be great … it is going to change the world.
Except, that wasn’t my day today. It is true that I was up late and likely only got 4-5 hours sleep (maybe 6), but I was washing dishes and updating the online stats sheets for our hockey league. I woke up to the incessant beeping of my iPhone alarm and dragged myself from my bed and to the shower. There I stood, water pouring down onto my head as I slowly woke, centered myself, and looked out at my day. I had things to do, tasks to accomplish. As I left the house and started out on my long commute to the office the rain hit, it was only then I realized how dreary the day looked. It was going to be another day of pushing papers and cleaning code of bugs. Yet, I needed to. I needed to pay for the bills, which fed my family, my bed, and the roof over my head. It allowed me to explore several of my inspirations, and I have several brewing currently. While I hadn’t spent the time on them I would like, I put in what I can. My notes litter my desk, counter, and coffee table. Each of the ideas is different and don’t overlap on their own, yet each has a common thread. A singular motivation … a purpose. It is for that I push on. For through that purpose we are going to change the world.
It is during that long commute I was taking the opportunity to listen to Ego Is the Enemy. In chapter 8 of the audio book, Ryan Holiday suggests that we ignore our passion as passions are fleeting and often reckless. In this he is right, passions are often fleeting and can often result in many workshop floors littered with unfinished products. I am not going to dig deep into his point at this time, many because it got me thinking and thus a little distracted.
In fact this topic came up later with a friend, and from that I felt that passion alone can be reckless and irresponsible but that it is also not something to be ignored. Instead, passion needs to be matched with purpose. Without purpose, passion for a project is like a drag car without a road.
Passion is the gas, Purpose the steering wheel.
While passion can be a great motivator and ensure things are done correctly, it can be hard to find somedays. Days when your energy is low and the work seems too daunting … where is your passion? Days when the clouds cover the skies, your muscles are sore, and your brain is tired … the passion seems lost. As the great energizer, it should be Passion that is pulling you from your bed and moving you along … but it doesn’t. That is your purpose. Your purpose is what drags you from the sheets and gets the first cup of coffee into your system. Purpose will keep you going when the tasks are not fun, it keeps you disciplined when you want to throw in the towel. Yet, without passion, purpose eventually loses momentum and interest fades.
To avoid this, it is important to maintain or restore the passion for a project. I believe the best source for rejuvenating your passion is by revisiting your purpose. Explore and discuss your mission, your vision, the very reason WHY you started down this road, preferably with a group of people you can feed ideas off of. This is what those corporate events, those team offsets, those year-end presentations are suppose to do but miss so completely … and it is one thing Apple® is famous for during their keynote addresses. They may touch on the numbers, the products, and the happenings … but they always explain a why, their why. When authentic it breeds passion amongst their fans, their employees, and the general market. The best motivational speakers also look to tap into that same well, specifically getting you to tap back into your own purpose, personal or professional, and extract your passions.
Passion may power you while purpose keeps you going in the right direction and that same purpose then is there to re-ignite your passion when energy fades. Use it to change your world.
I am still only partially through the book, but so far has been chalked full of valuable nuggets on how your Ego impacts your life through how you view others and view your world. If you have read the book I would love to hear your thoughts or any additional recommendations you have.