10 Apr Why You Might Be Looking For Your ‘Passion’ in All the Wrong Places + Last Day to Join our Self-Discovery Challenge!
Today, we are honored, thrilled and excited to introduce you to Christie Jenkins, the winner of our past Self-Discovery Writing Challenge.
Reminder: Today is the last day to join us for this round of the challenge. You can join at any time but in order to be entered to have your work featured on LYL, you must join us before midnight PST today, April 10!
For now, let me introduce Christie Jenkins, and her wisdom on the word ‘passion’…
Christie is a world class athlete in trampolining, beach volleyball and Crossfit. She also specialises in helping people experience peak performances through speaking, consulting and coaching.
Take it away Christie…
“What do you do?”
It’s one of the questions I most dread at any social gathering. Most people only ask the question as a conversation starter anyway – as soon as the last word is out of their mouths their eyes have already started to glaze over. I’ve certainly been guilty of wondering if the caterers will make another pass around the room with the desserts while someone expounds on what their corporate job title actually means.
But how does anyone with multiple side gigs go about answering?
‘What do you do?’ isn’t really an invitation to give someone a run down on the seven different projects you’re juggling on top of your ‘real’ job. People like us might have a job but we definitely aren’t defined by our job title.
I’m a professional athlete. But I play a sport (beach volleyball) where nobody really gets paid much so I’m not sure I can actually call it a job.
I’m a writer. But again, it’s rare to get paid for that.
I’m a speaker. But I’m opportunistic about it – taking gigs that come my way without properly seeking them out.
I’m a management consultant. But I mostly do contract work so there’s a 50/50 chance that I might not actually be working when the question is asked. It’s my ‘real’ job (and the one that pays!) but technically I’m unemployed half the time.
In short, the ‘what do you do?’ question is my worst nightmare.
Perhaps a better question is ‘why do you do what you do?’
It’s a question that the Live Your Legend community circles around constantly. And the answer is of course passion. I do what I do because I love it. The trick is… I didn’t start it because I loved it.
As a ‘millennial’ (barely – I just turned 30) I’m part of a generation that was constantly told that we could do anything we wanted to with our careers. You’d think that freedom would make us happy (my mum was told to choose between being a teacher or a nurse), but it resulted in millions of people paralysed by a surplus of choices. If you can do anything, how do you pick the right thing?
Instagram is filled with thousands of pretty, but useless, quotes telling you to follow your passion. Motivational speakers tell us how important it is to do what you are passionate about. Books tell us that the key ingredient to success is passion.
Frankly, I never agreed that your passion is something you have to find, or follow. Everything I’ve ever been passionate about is something that I’ve dedicated hours and years of work to first. Three different sports, speaking, writing, traveling, problem solving, and even Excel spreadsheets (yes I’m kind of nerdy) are all things I’m passionate about. I never ‘followed’ my passion, it followed me. It emerged as my skill level grew and the value I placed on that activity evolved. All I did was pick something that vaguely interested me, start, work hard, and keep working hard. Passion seemed to just sneak up on me along the way.
Take my career in beach volleyball. Most people assume I’ve done it forever. In fact, I spent the majority of the first 20 years of my life as an elite trampolinist. Then there was a brief foray into CrossFit for a couple of years. Beach volleyball was a sport I picked because I liked the beach, I thought there would be lots of hot guys playing without shirts (actually they do wear shirts to play – hardly fair when us girls wear bikinis), and because you could do it well into your late 30s (at age 23 I was getting a very late start). I did not pick it because I was passionate about it, or even good at it.
I was terrible when I started. I counted it a success when I could connect my hand with the ball and that’s something 12 year olds have no problems doing. More often than not the ball ended up on the next court over, and nowhere near my partner. But I enjoyed the rapid learning curve that comes with something new. Then I got to know some other athletes, and I liked the community aspect. I won my first match – that was fun. Junior athletes started to look up to me which filled me with warmth. I had my first game in a stadium and the feeling of the crowd riding every point with me was an incredible rush. I got selected for the Australian team and was filled with pride to wear my country’s colours.
My passion for the sport is a patchwork of memories and feelings that accumulated over time. Your passion is likely the same.
Don’t go looking for it. Build it. Brick by brick. Memory by memory. Achievement by achievement. Lead your passion, don’t follow it.
So why write?
‘We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding… we should write because writing yields us a body of work, a felt path through the world we live in.’ ~ Julia Cameron
Scott was right when he said that writing leads to opportunity. It also leads to clarity. Writing your ideas down for the world to read means you have to be able to clearly articulate them, and defend them. It also allows you to round out your ideas with other perspectives and points of view.
Most importantly it gives you and your ideas a permanent presence in the world. For me, that presence has already led to several keynote speaking opportunities, sponsorship for my sport and job offers. What I write about can also double as the material for a speech, or possible even a book (stay tuned!)
I don’t have a huge following – tiny compared to the Live Your Legend site. I use my blog more like a business card – something that I can direct people to in order to give credibility when I’m pitching myself. And I use it to stay front of mind in my network of friends and followers so they might recommend me if a matching opportunity comes up.
Lastly I use it to develop skill and discipline. Staying on a self-imposed schedule (granted it’s not a highly demanding schedule since I only post once a month) builds the muscle of discipline. Holding myself to a high standard of only publishing in-depth, interesting and lasting ideas helps me build skill. Having to live my life so it’s congruent with the advice I give in my writing can range from being annoying to scary (memorably it resulting in quitting my job and heading overseas with only $3000 to my name after writing posts on fear and goal setting).
Writing is rarely the outcome, instead it is the gateway. The door to many possibilities and many beginnings. It can help you develop your thinking around your passions, and develop your skills. Who knows, writing might even be your passion! At the very least it is one more feather in your cap when you answer the question ‘what do you do?’
As the LYL team says, the best time to start writing is a long time ago. The second best time is now.
And if you decide not to write, then take Benjamin Franklin’s advice: ‘Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing.’
– Christie Jenkins
Wow! We are certainly inspired by Christie and her wise spin on what passion means, and how to cultivate it. Which is why we love to share our free self-discovery writing challenge. You don’t have to build a blog around it but if you do and you join us by midnight tonight, we might be featuring your inspiring story next!
Because as Christie said, the best time to start writing is a long time ago. The second best time is now.
P.S. Christie’s take on ‘passion’ is exactly what we talk about over in our course 21 Days to Discover Your Passion. The lasting answers to living your life in an aligned way cannot come from a cookie cutter multiple choice test. We believe but when you take the time to stop the noise so you can be present (writing helps with this!!!!) you begin to see what you are curious about and when you pair curiosity with action, a lot of small steps, and a community to support you, our many graduates have proven to us that amazing things await!!!