What passion looks like?

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

– Harriet Tubman

There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

– Nelson Mandela

Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams.

– Donovan Bailey

We all have our preconceived notions of what passion looks like.

Passion /ˈpaʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. strong and barely controllable emotion; an intense desire or enthusiasm for something

The roots of the English word ‘passion’ is in the Latin word passio, which means “suffering”. It’s first recorded use in early Latin translations of the Bible appears in the 2nd century A.D. describing the death of Jesus. The Latin word was found in Old English religious texts and it’s meaning remained exclusively theological. When the Normans invaded Britain in the mid 11th century, thousands of French words were integrated into the spoken language – including ‘passion’, which referred solely to the sufferings of Jesus. It’s first developments in the meaning of ‘passion’ in English referred to martyrdom and physical suffering or affliction and by the 13th century, passion was being used to refer to any strong emotion. During the turn of the 16th century, the word ‘passion’ began to flourish in literature and poetry that enriched this word to signify a panoply of emotional afflictions, such as “extreme anger,” “a literary work marked by deep emotion,” and finally “strong sexual attraction or love.”

However, what has happened today is that we’ve forgotten the pain that comes with the passion to pursue dreams. Fortunately there are always people who are aware or realise this thought process and thus remarks and analyzes it in order to draw attention to the concept of passion such as the Thought Catalog.

I’ve read this interesting article about Steve Jobs and the title was ‘Do like Steve Jobs did – Don’t follow your passion’. As most of us know, Jobs dropped out of college after his first year and after moving back with his parents took up a night-shift job at Atari having read an ad in the news “Have fun and make money”. Some point later he left his job and made a spiritual journey through India and came back entering a business arrangement with Steve Wozniak – who was a true electronics whiz.

According to the writer of the article, he shares this aspect of Jobs’ life to demonstrate these are hardly the actions of someone passionate about technology and entrepreneurship. Yet soon after, Jobs started up the Apple Computer. I think what the writer was trying to say was people might assume that Jobs was passionate about designing the aesthetics, incorporating developing technology and running the business as a whole. However, it turns out to be more specific rather than all encompassing.

I’d have to disagree about the lack of passion for entrepreneurship, as he seems to have been driven by his desire to making money. This passion for money has put him through hardship and life lessons of the business world and making deals with others. In essence, Jobs did find his passion just not how one would expect.

However, the writer of the article also claims that if Jobs did follow his own advice when he gave his commencement speech in June 2005:

You’ve got to find what you love … [T]he only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle.

Then we would find him as only one of Los Altos Zen Center’s (a meditation center) most popular teachers. But why does this feel like the writer describes this as a negative thing?

Success holds different definitions to people, and no one can compare if being the most loved high school teacher is any lesser than being the most loved singer. For if their passion was to teach or sing, then the process of achieving that and the result of attaining it doesn’t have to impact the entire world. Also, finding passion can be challenging and therefore one’s journey may have some conflicting details in the story line, and to come to my point, from the article on Jobs I would like to comment that we can never judge nor attribute passions and intentions to the person as a whole, but understand that a person’s passions and intentions can change. Also, that success is not only measured universally, rather it is also measured to the people who love and care about us and those who matter the most. For among the many kinds of success, perhaps the latter is the most important.

A final point I would like to add, which I believe is crucial to passion. This can be reflected from the first uses of the word passion – when Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us. Thought Catalog reminds us we cannot do passion without logic, and Jesus reminds us we cannot do success without love. When one gains success with integrity, consideration of others and kindness, it is much nobler and respectful than one who obtained success with deceit, dishonesty and harm. For which is easier? Certainly to reach the top with love is more challenging and therefore comes with a great respect.


  1. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2004/02/why_is_it_called_the_passion.html
  2. http://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2014/10/passion-is-the-problem-not-the-solution/
  3. http://thoughtcatalog.com/brianna-wiest/2015/06/12-reasons-why-logical-people-lead-better-lives-in-a-generation-where-passion-is-at-a-premium/
  4. http://www.fastcompany.com/3001441/do-steve-jobs-did-dont-follow-your-passion

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