in life

The Greater Good (Or What Passion is Really All About)

The idea of working a “nine to five” has become almost archaic to our generation. That’s because this generation, more than any before, live and die by one thing: Passion. Yes, the word that has been so bastardized, so over-played, so repeated, that it’s meaning nowadays is much less, well, meaningful.

But when it comes to defining what we really want – what we love, we’ve got it twisted. It’s not about the money. It’s not about the prestige or the recognition. It’s not even about passion, success, or happiness.

It’s about contribution. We all, at our core, want to make a difference. Be it big or small, we want to have an impact. We want to leave an impression. We want to change the world. We want to be heard. We want to matter.

A recent article on Harvard Business Review says we should forget about passion and happiness, and start focusing on our potential to make big things happen:

“…Happiness comes from the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, and what the world needs. We’ve been told time and again to keep finding the first. Our schools helped developed the second. It’s time we put more thought on the third.

Putting problems at the center of our decision-making changes everything. It’s not about the self anymore. It’s about what you can do and how you can be a valuable contributor. People working on the biggest problems are compensated in the biggest ways. I don’t mean this in a strict financial sense, but in a deeply human sense. For one, it shifts your attention from you to others and the wider world. You stop dwelling. You become less self-absorbed. Ironically, we become happier if we worry less about what makes us happy…”

I believe whole-heartedly, this, and only this, is what passion, a word we use so callously nowadays, is all about.

It’s not about me – it’s about we. It’s about us. It’s about community. It’s about having an impact. It’s about the big picture. The greater good.

If you asked me what the best part of my job is – it isn’t that I have the freedom to work in PJs. It isn’t that I can start happy hour at 3pm on a Tuesday (if I so choose). It isn’t about writing my own paycheck.

It’s about my impact. The potential I have to make a difference with people’s businesses, their ideas, and their lives.

It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. It’s what excites me. It’s what ignites me. It isn’t the day to day emailing, coding, and designing – it’s the impact I have in helping people to share their stories that in turn, have an impact of their own. On some level, albeit a small one, it’s rewarding to know that I’m contributing to something bigger than myself.

That, my friends, is what passion is really all about.

So today I challenge you to look inward. To define what “passion” truly means to you.

Then, take a look around. Where are the opportunities to have a genuine impact? Where can you focus your passions and talents in a way that will truly make a difference?

“…We don’t find happiness by looking within. We go outside and immerse in the world. We are called to a higher purpose by the inescapable circumstances that are laid out on our path. It’s our daily struggles that define us and bring out the best in us, and this lays down the foundation to continuously find fulfillment in what we do even when times get tough…”

Define yourself not by your own pursuit of happiness, but by the happiness you bring and the contributions you offer to others.

What’s your impact? What are you contributing?

Add Your Voice



  1. Great post!  Thanks for sharing.
    I am not sure what age group you are referring to that finds 9-5 archaic and gotta tell you, I don’t think it is defined so much by generation as it is by personality.  As a career coach, I work with lot’s of 35 to 60 somethings to help them create fulfilling, purposeful work. The “8 to late” cubicle life is not attractive to anyone I know.  Who wants to work fifty 40+hour weeks every year to be able to take a vacation?  Fortunately many of my generation are bailing out of the traditional work week and examining how their talents, skills and experience can be of benefit to others and in doing so, many become creatively self employed or launch small businesses with heart.  As Aristotle put it:  “Where your gifts and the needs of the world cross..lies your calling.”Dee Relyea

    • Hi Dee – I agree 100% and I certainly don’t think this is a purely generational thing. I think the difference is, where my parents did not see entrepreneurship as a viable option in their twenties, the generation I’m a part of very much does and is taking the reins of their career choices from a very early age. It’s becoming clearer to even those folks who are younger than I am, that passion and profession can and do mix, if you want them to, and if you’re willing to work for it. Ultimately, regardless of age, we’re all after that thing and those things that light us up, fulfill us, and make us feel whole, part of which is what we contribute to the big picture, our community, and the greater good…Cheers!

  2. Matt, love your writing style. Though we get tired of the word “passion,” in the end, it can be very powerful if you live/work/stand for something every day of your life. On a side-note..where do you get your blog pictures from? They are very eye catching and just seem better than the average “google image” photo. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Matt. Agree whole-heartedly that passion, while it may be an overused word, still matters, it still means something, it still means a whole helluva lot.

      As for photos – various sources, mostly open source/creative commons photos on Flickr, some from my personal collection and/or other friends, this one in particular was a creative commons photos from Flickr that I added the text-treatment to.

      • Great. Thanks for the input. Last questions for the week – what’s your take on WordPress as a personal blog/website? Would I have the capabilities to create a site that would look and operate similar to lifewithoutpants?

    • EXCELLENT points, Jacko. We often forget about those who have come before us, and their impact on where you and I are today. In saying that, it’s important for us to remember to do the same for those who will follow in our footsteps…

  3. HI Matt!  What a wonderful post! I look forward to a day when the majority of the world has the exact same feeling about their purpose & their work.   I always tell people, “imagine if EVERYONE in the world cared GREATLY about what they were doing for a living and did it for the benefit of others”  It may sound cheesy….and perhaps a bit Utopian, but the world would be a much better place.

    Very motivating Matt. Thanks for sharing.