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Issue #3- Passion
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Issue #3-Passion: A Gift, or A Curse? It Depends. 

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Welcome back to Peak Performance, our newsletter highlighting the latest science in performance and personal growth.
 
The word passion gets thrown around all the time.  We praise passionate lovers, passionate students, passionate employees, and passionate athletes.  It is a perquisite to excellence in almost any endeavor. But if not carefully handled, passion can come with great costs. After all, the word passion comes from the Latin word “passio,” which means to suffer.  
 
We can’t be certain what causes passion. It is likely part biological, part psychological, and part spiritual.  (See the Outside article below.)
 
What we do know is that there are two types of passion. Harmonious passion is when an individual becomes completely absorbed in an activity because they love how the activity itself makes them feel.  Obsessive passion is when an individual gets hooked on something because of external rewards; read: fame, fortune, or in this day and age, Twitter followers.  Research shows that individuals with harmonious passion are happier, healthier, and less prone to burnout. Individuals with obsessive passion, on the other hand, are not only more likely to burnout and experience dissatisfaction, but they are also more likely to cheat, be it using steroids on the playing field or illicit stimulants in the workplace.  
 
The implications of this ought to be clear. Do what you can to cultivate harmonious passion in yourself and those you care about.  This requires developing a relationship with activities based on how doing an activity makes you feel, not based on how the rewards of doing an activity make you feel.  Celebrate effort, process, and the intrinsic joy of doing the work more than you celebrate results – for this is the key to long-term success and vitality.  
 
And finally, beware of a common trap: Harmonious passion can all too easily turn into obsessive passion as one’s work begins to gain recognition and external praise.
Try This
  • Ask yourself: Do you love a certain activity because you enjoy the activity itself, or because you enjoy the external rewards/validation associated with the activity? If the latter, try to remember what got you started in the first place and get back to that. If you were chasing external rewards all along, realize that you may be setting yourself up for future disappointment, and rethink your mindset.
  • In those that you nurture (e.g., children, students, employees, athletes you coach) cultivate harmonious passion by celebrating effort not results. Block out most, if not all, of the external noise.
  • Understand that as you get better at an activity and begin to earn recognition, harmonious passion can turn into obsessive passion. Enjoy success, but never become attached to fame, fortune, or followers.
Learn More Books to Read
“Sustained Passion is a hallmark of mastery.” – Michael Gervais
As always, please reach out to us on twitter and let us know what you think. Send us a tweet at @SteveMagness and @Bstulberg and include #PeakPerformance and we'll get back to you right away. We’d love to hear your thoughts on passion and how you apply these concepts in your own life.

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Brad and Steve

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