Look for Passion, Passion, Passion

September 30, 2009

Passion burns down every branch of exhaustion. Passion is the supreme elixir and renews all things. No one can grow exhausted when passion is born. Don’t sigh heavily your brow bleak with boredom. Look for passion, passion, passion. — Rumi

Our grandfather played eleven different instruments and wrote his high school’s fight song. Yet, somehow musical prowess got wiped from my mother’s offspring. A source of amusement is singing “Happy Birthday” to unsuspecting visitors at family gatherings. Come visit; it’s worth a giggle if you can stand our butchering!

Meanwhile, if you dropped by any of my maternal cousins’ homes it was a different story. All those ancestral musical talents migrated well into their fingers and voices as they each spent hours composing, singing and playing instruments. They created garage bands and followed the Grateful Dead around the Northwest. Two of my cousins from different branches of our family tree actually created a touring duo called “Gene Pool” — was that just to rub it in that they scooped up all the artistic goodies? My cousin Charlie had a tenor voice that could make me cry.

Growing up, I loved to follow them all around and beg these boys to perform. Why? It’s not only because they all played well (i.e. recurring blog theme), but also it was their enduring joy and passion brought to this art form. Their love of music energized not only them, but also me. Passion is contagious.

On Monday, I asked fifteen college freshman honors students the attributes of their best high school teachers. I heard about instructors who were happy to spend hours after class discussing how to improve a paper and about others who welcomed any question, no matter how off base, as a creative opening for conversation. They all described teachers who were passionate about their jobs and curious where their work it might take them. Thomas Friedman wrote inThe World is Flat that “CQ + PQ > IQ.” In other words, your curiosity quotient plus your passion quotient will take you farther than a strong intelligence quotient.

Even though I included Benjamin Zander earlier this year, I must add his Ted talk here once more as a reminder how joy can open doors and hearts in unfathomable ways. I can’t help it, Zander’s passion magnetizes me every time:


What makes you come alive?

Where are you contagious…in a good way?

How can you share what you love?

Deidre Combs

Deidre Combs is the author of three books on cross-cultural approaches to resolving conflict and overcoming challenges:  The Way of ConflictWorst Enemy, Best Teacher  and Thriving Through Tough Times. The books integrate perennial wisdom from the world’s lasting cultural traditions with systems theory and brain research.

Dr. Combs is a management consultant, executive coach, mediator and core instructor in Montana State University’s Leadership Fellows Certificate Program and Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Global Competence Certificate Program. Since 2007, she has also taught intensive leadership training to State Department-selected students, teachers and professional leaders from throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Latin America and Pakistan’s FATA region.

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