July 9

Reclaiming the Meaning of Passion

We have a very misguided sense of what the wordpassionmeans. We often toss out phrases like “follow your passion” to young professionals, and what we mean is “do things you like” or “enjoy the tasks you do every day.” However, this is a very, very deceiving use of the word.

The wordpassionis derived from the Latin wordpassiōR, which means “suffering or enduring.” So when we tell someone to follow their passion, we are really telling them to “follow your suffering!” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, huh?

But that’s exactly the advice we should be giving them.

When you discover productive passion, you are willing to stay with a project longer than you otherwise would. You will endure hardships, late nights, difficult problems longer than others around you. That doesn’t mean that you chase after suffering; it means that you are willing to suffer when necessary for the sake of something that matters much more to you than your temporary discomfort.

Your productive passion is not a set of tasks; it’s an outcome that you are driven to achieve. Maybe it’s bringing order to things. Maybe it’s surprising and delighting others who experience your work. Maybe it’s bringing compelling clarity to a message.

Once you connect deeply with your productive passion, you can bring it to the work you do each day rather than waiting for your work to inspire you. Don’t follow your passion. Bring it to your work!


As you consider your work, what outcomes seem to bring you to life? Do you notice any patterns? Are there certain kinds of projects or situations that cause you to stick with things a little longer than you otherwise would? Now, consider what that might say about your productive passion.

Related Articles