good habits and the "raw desire to do stuff"

Posted on by Laura Hamlyn

A couple of weeks ago, a friend said he wished his company would hire sales people who actually call clients back. His coworkers were literally receiving emails/voice mails from clients and ignoring them.

The conversation made me think about passion, drive and action. How can you hate your job so much that you neglect to complete your core task: return a call from a client?

Are we too busy to call people back? This kind of avoidance fascinates me. We can't call people back, but we can spend a lot of time talking about things we can't keep ourselves from doing like procrastinating, smoking or watching TV. We throw ourselves completely into activities that give us nothing in return.

What if we re-framed bad habits as passion? Would we feel good about being a passionate smoker? Better yet--what if we replaced bad habits with passion projects?

What do you obsess about creatively? Where does your mind go to entertain itself when you're in the shower, taking a walk or commuting?

I'd like to go back to Scott Belsky (again) in Making Ideas Happen quoting Jon Ellenthal of Walker Digital:

I recall the days when I was a resume snob, he says. [But now] I would trade experience for initiative and the raw desire to do stuff in a heartbeat.

I would bet my collection of sea glass recently acquired from Mont St. Michel that most of us could uncover a passion project if we tried hard enough. (This would also prove my theory that everyone is creative in their own way.) And that you should be skeptical about hiring someone who doesn't have at least one passion project.

So, if we haven't already, how do we uncover these passion projects and how to we get everyone involved--not just the "creative types"?

They aren't destructive (but they might feel like it) - Think of something that can suck you in as much as cheese nachos after too many beers, but won't regret in the morning.

They fill a hole and might be spiritual - Work and family/friends can't be the end all, be all. There should be something else. And that something else might be so close to your soul that it feels spiritual. My friend's passion project is running, and she will fiercely challenge you if you tell her a long run does not equal church.

They've been there all along - I have no specific scientific research to base this on--just my personal observations--but I think we are who we at 3 or 4 years old. Everything after that builds on the preschool version of us. So when you're digging around for your own "raw desire" or passion project, think about the things you were interested in during those early, formative years.

Like Jim Henson said in the little green, square It's Not Easy Being Green and Other Things To Consider:

Growing up as an artist, I've always been in awe of the incredible beauty of every last bit of design in nature...I love to lie in an open field looking up at the sky. One of my happiest moments of inspiration came to me many years ago as I lay on the grass looking up into the leaves and branches of a big old tree in California.

So the next time you find yourself avoiding the very thing you're getting paid to do--or looking for something more rewarding than a Saturday afternoon reality TV marathon, try a passion project. Besides writing and helping people, mine looks like this.