365 Days of Courage #42: My thoughts on the Grammy's and Passion vs Curiosity


Keeping myself on track with my much-loved hour glass as I write my weekly newsletter this morning.

The newsletter is copied below - hope you enjoy it!

Happy Monday! 

Did you watch The Grammy's last night?  I don't think that I ever feel older than when I watch The Grammy's.  I was SO relieved when Dolly Parton and Diana Ross came on.

Having said that, I was blown away by some of the performances.  Janelle Monae's performance was extraordinary.  I had to watch it again this morning.  And Alicia Keys playing songs she wished she had written on two pianos?!  Be still my beating heart. 

When I watch award shows and see performances like that, I think of what a devastating loss it would be to the world if these artists had never found their voice and hadn't persisted in sharing their music with the world.  They had a passion  - an obvious passion - and they pursued it with passion.

On Tuesday, I had the absolute pleasure of being in the audience while Oprah interviewed Michael B Jordan, Melinda Gates, Lisa Borders, Beto O'Rourke and Bradley Cooper for her Supersoul Conversations.  It was 5 hours from start to finish and I loved every single minute of it.

Oprah asked Michael what he had learned about life from his parents. 

He said that his father told him to find something that he loved or that he was passionate about and then to get serious about it. I think it is the second part of that advice that we too often neglect. We think that the love of something or the passion for something will somehow be enough. “Follow your passion” makes it seem as if no effort is involved.

But, in reality, effort is involved. If there is something that you feel drawn to with a passion, you still need to put in the hours. You need to commit to it and pursue it with passion. Put in the hours to master this thing that you love.  Those hours of mastery are so evident when you watch Alicia Keys or Lady Gaga or Diana Ross perform.  They didn't stop at finding their passion, they took the next step of getting really serious about it.

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A day or so later I saw a video of P!nk's speech as her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was being unveiled. 

In her speech she said:

"Today for me is a celebration of something that my dad taught me and that is, "To thine own self be true".

And if you walk along this boulevard and you look at these names, there is a power that lies in that. To thine own self be true. There is a power in believing in yourself, there's a power in not giving up on life and not giving up on yourself. And there's a power in making a decision that while you may not be the best that ever did it, you may not be the prettiest, or the tallest, or the funniest, or the most talented, or whatever it is you tell yourself that you're not.

If you're stubborn and you don't give up and you work really hard, no one else can ever be you."

Click here to watch a video of her speech.

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While I love and wholeheartedly agree with the advice of finding your passion and then pursuing it with commitment and hard work, I think that that advice works brilliantly if you know what your "passion" is.  If you're a Michael B Jordan with a passion for acting or a P!nk who is SO clearly born to be doing what she's doing or an Alicia Keys or a Janelle Monae or a Diana Ross, your passion is evident and obvious.  So the piece of figuring out your passion is taken care of - you might need to give some thought as to the genre of music or acting you will pursue but it is clear to the whole damn world that you were born to sing or you were born to act.

But what if your passion isn't obvious?  Or what if you have multiple passions or things that you love and could imagine pursuing?  Or what if you became so disconnected from your passion at a young age that now - in your midlife - you have no idea at all what you're passionate about?  You're SO burned out and so exhausted from having lived a passionless life for so many years that you have completely forgotten what lights you up.

What do you do then?  And how do you feel when you read the advice to "follow your passion"

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This quote from Liz Gilbert made me giggle.  Maybe it describes perfectly how you feel when someone tells you to follow your passions.

The full Facebook post she wrote was:

“I am a big advocate for the pursuit of curiosity. You’ve maybe heard me talk about this before? We are constantly being told to pursue our passions in life, but there are times when passion is a TALL ORDER, and really hard to reach. In seasons of confusion, of loss, of boredom, of insecurity, of distraction, the idea of “passion” can feel completely inaccessible and impossible. In such times, you are lucky to be able to get your laundry done (that sometimes feels as high as you can aim) and when someone tells you to follow your passion, you want to give them the middle finger. (Go ahead and do it, by the way. But wait till their back is turned, out of civility.)

But curiosity, I have found, is always within reach.

Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, “Hey, that’s kind of interesting…”

Passion is rare; curiosity is everyday.

Curiosity is therefore a lot easier to reach at at times than full-on passion — and the stakes are lower, easier to manage.

The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn’t take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?

For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next.

Small steps.

Keep doing that, and I promise you: The curiosity will eventually lead you to the passion.

And that’ll be the end of boredom.

— Liz Gilbert - a Facebook post from February 8, 2014

Passion can seem so very Mediterranean. It brings up images of Sophia Loren or Antonia Banderas. There’s an intensity to the word itself that can make it seem like it's only for other people, not for people like "us".  As a Brit, my arms start to fold at the very whiff of talks of “passion”.

And, yet, I believe with every fiber of my being that each and everyone of us is drawn to certain things, places, people and experiences for no explicable reason. The things that light me up would do absolutely nothing for someone else and vice versa.

So I wholeheartedly believe in the pursuit of those things that we find ourselves drawn to in life. Not to one thing, necessarily, but to the things plural that capture our attention.

I love Liz Gilbert’s advice to follow your curiosities. To consider it a scavenger hunt “where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next.”

Curiosities don't feel grand or out of reach or intense. 

So if you know that you WANT to pursue your passion but it feels like a TALL ORDER, give yourself a break and think about what you're curious about instead.

You can also listen to Liz Gilbert taking about Curiosity and the Passion Fallacy on the Good Life Project podcast. It’s about an hour long but it’s a great listen. My dog loved it as he got a much longer walk as I was enjoying it so much!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this?  Do you feel like you know your passion?  That you have a single, "born to do it" passion?  Or do you feel disconnected from any sense of passion?  Or that you have so many things that might be your passion and you're scared to pick just one so you do nothing?

In the week ahead, set your radar of attention to the things that you feel curious about.  The things that are like a tiny tap on your shoulder - a little whisper in your ear that says "hey, that's kind of interesting ...".  Then take a small step towards one of those things.  It doesn't matter which one.  Just pick one.  The one that feels most enticing or most interesting to you.  It doesn't mean that you won't pursue the other things at some point.  It just means that, for now, you are following this curiosity clue on your scavenger hunt.

Let me know how it goes!

I wish you a week inspired by curiosity!

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