A Recipe for Cultivating Passion

Katrina Calihan Point of Arrival Passion.jpg

I had the privilege recently of attending a performance of The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and Jon Batiste. Individually, the musicians had an immeasurable amount of prodigious talent, but collectively, the music was soulful and magical.  It was clear there was something ethereal happening; an energetic wave was born on that stage and washed over us all.  It got me wondering – what are the ingredients that generate this kind of passion and energy in our own lives?  And, what is the ripple effect into our communities when we tap it?
These questions were the basis of my graduate school dissertation and are ongoing for me.  Here’s what you need to know about how to cultivate more passion in work and life:

  • Nurture your talents and actively use your strengths – What are the talents, skills and abilities that come naturally to you, that are energizing and you cannot help but express in the world?How will you nurture them so they continue to grow? We often discover our passions by pursuing our strengths. When we connect with and use our strengths in service of our passions, we are more likely to engage in those activities, be resilient when we're challenged and generate better results.  
  • Focus, hard work and practice – Focus on what lights you up!  Work tirelessly and energetically toward improvement and mastery, knowing that a growth mindset, continued learning and practice will only make you better at what you love. 
  • Follow the path for its own sake – In terms of generating meaning and purpose in life, intrinsic rewards far outweigh the extrinsic ones.   Do what you’re passionate about because of the sheer joy it brings you, because time fades into the background, and because you cannot keep from doing it!  The activity is the reward. 
  • Architect a community of support – Who are the people who encourage and inspire you?  Who has complementary gifts, that when joined together, spark magic?  The whole is more than the sum of its parts.  Other people matter, and we need community for exponential impact and engagement.
  • It doesn’t need to pay the bills – While some of us will connect with passion through our paid work in the world, many of us will not, and that is perfectly okay!  What’s of the utmost importance is that we are cultivating our interests and passions in at least one domain of our lives.  Passion energy is a wellspring of positive emotions and meaning.  Do something ongoing that is energizing and brings you enjoyment and happiness. 

Watching the stage that evening, I witnessed passion coming alive in the foot tapping, bodies swaying, ear-to-ear smiling and harmonious sound.  A lifetime of nurturing talents, discipline and practice enabled that symphonic moment.  Those individual musicians, in ensemble, reverberated musical grandeur that touched the souls of everyone in that theater.  Thank goodness they showed up and shared it!  Here’s the bottom line: participate in and share your gifts with the world, for your own sake and the collective, we need them more than ever. 

In service and gratitude, Katrina