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?