Missing the Passion


It’s been more than a month since I last posted anything to this blog. A colleague was so concerned by my virtual absence that she e-mailed me to ask if everything was OK. I assured her that it is, that I’ve been busy with client work lately. But I also confessed that I haven’t been inspired to write much since my mother’s death two months ago.

I’m sure it’s a normal part of the grieving process, but the passion simply is difficult to find right now. And passion is a critical component of the writing life, and most any life, really.

My friend and professional colleague Wendy Martin recently began writing a blog about living a healthful lifestyle. The blog is one result of her having won a contest in which, as part of her winning essay, she committed to blogging about her “year of wellness.” In a recent conversation, she said she might be “wasting way too much time” on the blog. I assured her that writing the blog is not a waste of time. It’s the perfect intersection of her passion (living a healthful lifestyle that includes lots of outdoor physical activity) and her talent (the ability to write well with humor and clarity).

I’m envious of all my friends who are living out their passions and using their skills to do so.

Steve Crescenzo, a fellow consultant and top-rated speaker in our profession, is downright fiery when it comes to creative communication. Anybody who has attended one of his seminars can attest to that. He keeps an exhausting travel schedule, creates comedy out of corporate communications (which is not easy to do, I assure you), and constantly comes up with new and innovative ways to present information.

My best friend and mentor Les Potter discovered a few years ago — after a long career in corporate communications and consulting — that his real passion is teaching. Today he is a senior instructor at the Towson University School of Mass Communication and Communication Studies while also working toward his doctorate. Anyone who has ever had the privilege of learning from Les knows his passion for communication strategy and how to do it well.

David Murray writes passionately about writing — especially employee communication and speechwriting — on his Writing Boots blog. While I don’t always agree with his posts, he always makes me think. I admire the strength of his convictions and the care with which he constructs his blog posts.

These people have discovered where their passions and their talents meet. That is an enviable place to be.

Honestly, I feel that I’m still looking for that place. I believe I’m a good communicator, a competent writer, and writing is something I enjoy doing. Now I’m looking for where my skill intersects with my passion — whatever it is.

The death of my mom at once sapped my desire to write — at least for a while — and caused me to wonder what I’m really passionate about. Life is too short to spend it on something that doesn’t stoke the fire in our bellies.

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10 Responses

  1. Thanks for the kind words, Robert, and for your candor. I am already teaching Scout that the luckiest people in the world are those who figure out, at an early or late age, what they really, really like to do. But you don’t find it if you don’t look for it. And you’re looking for it. We’ll all watch your search, if you don’t mind.

  2. Thanks, David. Whenever I consider what I’d really love to do, I think of the “Seinfeld” episode in which George Costanza considers his next career move: “I like sports … I could be the general manager of a baseball team … I could be an announcer.”

    Finding your passion is just the first of many steps to living it.

  3. My Dear Brother/BFF Robert:

    You ARE a good communicator and a competent writer. I continually learn from you.

    As a blogger myself, I understand the creative slump. I am seriously in one now.

    You have a valid reason — the loss of your beloved Mother after a long and debilitating illness. Losing her could easily sap your creative strength. Loss like that hurts the spirit.

    My creative writer spirit is out there somewhere fumbling around in the wilderness looking for meaning and inspiration. I want things I cannot have. I want to do things I cannot do. Sometimes, it just takes over, and I do not feel like writing. I lose interest. And when I do, I can’t find the words to say anything of meaning.

    But like you, I will regain my writer spirit. You WILL prevail in this, for you always do. I have known you for many years now, and we have been together through many tough times. We will prevail.

    I love you, my Brother/BFF, and I am with you always. Be of good cheer, for the shadows will pass.

    Les

    .

  4. Thanks for this very honest post. I’m still struggling with my dad’s death a year later. I had no idea grief would affect every aspect of a person’s life like it does. Being honest with yourself will help, I’m sure.

    On the other aspect of your post – most of us who are looking for the intersection of our talent and our passion have discovered just how hard it is to find! Keep on looking.

    Thanks.

  5. Robert:

    Thank you for this honest post . . .and for including me in the list of people you admire for keeping the passion burning.

    It’s funny that you write this right now . . . because lately I, too, have been asking myself if I’m doing what I truly love. Believe me, I love teaching my seminars and speaking at conferences. I have fun, and I know I’m making a difference in the profession. I’ll do it for as long as I can do it. And it pays the bills, I get to travel a lot with my wife, and I love working for myself. I am truly blessed.

    But I have other passions. Many passions. Food and travel are two of the bigger ones. To that end, Cindy and I thinking about launching a travel/food blog, A Table For Two, where we write about our travels and our culinary adventures.

    I want to start a cooking show on youtube. I want to write travel essays like Bill Bryson.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: While I am passionate about what I do to make money (luckily, or I couldn’t do it) I also want to follow my heart in the things I truly, truly love to do.

    I think you need to have both: You need to love your work enough to stay passionate about it and never just phone it in; and you also need to chase your dreams.

    And if are one of those people whose dream it is to be an employee communications consultant, God bless you, because that makes it simple. But I sense that there are other things that are pulling at you as well.

    And, for the record, you are WAAAAAAAYYYY more than a “competent” writer. Knock that off.

    Steve C.

  6. Thanks, everyone, for your candor and sharing your own experiences with feeling dispassionate from time to time. There’s certainly no shame in admitting to moments of not being on top of our game. We’re human and it happens to the best of us.

    I continue to be inspired by all of my friends who approach your work with gusto and yet always look to kick your lives up a notch.

  7. What moving words, Robert, letting us all know how human we are, how fulfilled we want to be, how realistic we must be. Your words say so much to all of us. Thanks, Mark

  8. Thanks for your thoughtful and candid comments, Robert and all of you. I don’t believe we can sustain full-out passion at every moment, no matter what, and when we lose someone near and dear to us, well, that’s a whole other story. The positive part of such loss is that it brings a different focus to our lives. It’s not an easy view. it is painful. Yet it is growth. Take care!

  9. The sharp pain and emptiness left by the loss of a loved ones are open windows into our own souls and into the true meaning of life, away from the constrictions of the daily grind. It’s in this painful and honest place that we see the heart of life beyond our drive for climbing up the ladder, being the best at a profession we question our passion for, or making a hefty check. And we continue to question …

    I’ve lost my Mom over three years ago, and the journey of grief has taken me down dark, passionless roads, questioning every choice in my life. I’m still searching, and I’m ready to search for the rest of my life. Until then, I choose to be present in this moment, where I am, a communication professional trying to pass on a crystal clear message.

    Your blog is insightful and spot-on. If that’s what you find it in your heart you want to do, I’m sure you’ll continue to write it. Just know that your posts are impacting the life and profession of those who read it.

    May you peace and your true passion.

  10. Thank you so much for this post which moved me. I enjoy reading what you write – both for comment and for the way your write.
    I understand what you mean about passion and life being short – all of us find ourselves at crossroads between our passions and our work. Integrating the two is a joy but sometimes being in a job that is your passion is the most challenging and painful thing you’ll ever do …
    I also really appreciated your post on employees leaving.

    In my life as a pastor I would continually find myself saying to people who had lost loved ones “two months is nothing – six months is not a long time etc …”
    Be gentle with yourself, grief takes a long, long time. It’s a spiral rather than a straight line – it takes time and then it takes time.
    Take care

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