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On passion & suffering

Updated: May 9, 2020

“Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures.” Joseph Campbell, author

Passion is like rocket fuel. Incredibly powerful when focused and harnessed; volatile and destructive if unchecked. I'm a passionate person, and I have been my entire life. I get excited about things. I obsess. I pursue relentlessly. When I am passionate about something, I will suffer gladly longer and at a higher degree than most people are willing. Passion is my super power.

I used to think that passion was found when an activity was inherently enjoyable for you. If you are a gifted painter you naturally are passionate about it because talent fuels passion. It's a common perception many of us have. We assume that when we see someone who is good at something that they were naturally attracted to where their superior abilities already resided, and their talent reinforced and stoked their passion.

I know now that paradigm is backwards. No one is so inherently gifted that they don't have to work hard to develop that talent into skills. Once you have skills, you have to work hard over and over, again and again to bring those skills to bare. Becoming truly excellent at anything requires suffering.

It is the passion that provides the fuel to keep going THROUGH the suffering. If you are passionate about a goal, you are willing to pay the price to achieve it. If you are passionate about your career, you are willing to put in the effort required to succeed. If you are passionate about your marriage, you will push through the hard times and fight to make it thrive.

Ironically, I think suffering increases passion. Psychologically it makes sense. Things that we achieve with great ease don't stir our souls, and we move on to the next thing after the novelty has worn off. But when we have endured suffering, our mind tells us that it was worth after. It's what make us grow.

Thus, passion can be cultivated through suffering. The more you consistently show up, push yourself to go a little farther, be a little better, suffer just a little longer, the more your brain will tell you that it was worth it.

The formula for cultivating a new passion is simple. Find a challenging activity. Set a goal. Show up. Suffer. Repeat.

- Coach Jordan

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Coach Jordan
Coach Jordan
May 10, 2020

@mikej767 Agreed, you won't feel like showing up every time or won't always be pumped to be there but being able to push through that is my working definition of passion. I think of excitement and passion as separate things, but that has evolved over the years. Passion, true passion, to me is defined by staying power. Excitement wears off.


May 10, 2020

Great post. I also think that passion isn’t what keeps people going. I often found in CrossFit (you know me) that sometimes my passion isn’t always there but the mental resolve to keep on pushing is what makes that extra difference. Keep showing up, keep moving, stay focused and tell yourself that it’s ok to not always feel fired up!

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