The inspiration for this stems from a something I posted recently regarding regrets and a subsequent post I read on Stuart Danker’s excellent blog. If you think about it, our biggest regrets are those times when we simply “gave up” or chose the easiest solution, the path of least resistance. Conversely, one of life’s enduring pleasures is engaging in our passions which are activities in which, over time, we’ve achieved a certain level of competence. (I’ve examined this phenomena from a number of different angles in previous posts.) We’re justifiably proud of our competence because, damn it, it was hard won. Anything worth doing is hard, especially in the beginning. Whatever that activity may be, you will suck at it. The first few weeks, months and even years will be a profoundly humbling experience.
If you read experts in many fields (writing, music and sports, for example) they all say that the key to mastery is consistent practice, the act of putting in the work, day after day. For me the fascinating question is what provides the motivation? What sparks the obsession that provides the motivation? Why skateboarding, and not boxing? Why writing, and not acting? Why do we wake up one day and say to ourselves, I’m going to do this activity, whatever the cost. I’m hoping, dear reader, that you’ve experienced this at least once if not many times in your life.
If you have that obsession, motivation flows like the Nile. You’ll be bad for quite some time but from some reason this is not off-putting. You’re fully onboard, you show up and put in the work…you can’t wait to improve. Slowly, over time, you begin to see this improvement. And that, my friends, is the ultimate high – the only high worth chasing. Being good at one or multiple things is very psychologically rewarding.
Sometimes, but not always, you may have a natural talent for the activity. That certainly helps, but its not the main criteria. Motivation, passion, obessive interest is the main criteria. What provides this mysterious “spark”? I wish I knew. So, gentle reader, I put the question to you: What are your passions and do you remember how and why you became obsessed them? Please leave your answer in the comments section below.