I wanted to share a brief life lesson today…
At work not too long ago, I was getting really stressed out.
I work in an office, on a marketing team, on various projects. My team was working on one project that was just not coming together.
Do you know the kind? You’re working with an outside vendor with insane expectations, who has no idea what they’re doing. Moreover, your team doesn’t react well because they have no idea what they’re doing. There’s a lack of communication, too many cooks in the kitchen, and no one is listening to you. In short, it’s a big, stressful mess.
I came home from work and vented to my husband-to-be, who, because he’s a good partner, listened. And then he (nicely) told me to calm down.
“The person in the room that gets everyone to listen to them is always the calmest one,” he said.
“But I’m not a naturally calm person,” I argued. “I have opinions! I am passionate! I’m a creative!”
(I probably didn’t say it quite like that, but that was the gist.)
“Are you that passionate about this work project?” was his response.
“I’m mad that–”
“No, the thing itself. Do you care that much?”
I had to admit I didn’t. It was just another project, one of dozens that comes across my plate in a year.
“So stop giving it so much of your energy,” he said.
So I thought about this.
Passion is good. Passion is necessary, I’d argue especially when you’re a creative person. You need passion in your writing, in your characters, in your art.
But you can’t spend your entire life caught up in the throes of passion. You need to pick and choose what to be passionate about.
And work projects–when you’re in a day job that isn’t your passion–aren’t the things you want to expend your energy on.
Moreover, being passionate in a meeting isn’t always the best look.
In professional situations, I’ve encountered that fraught, stressed person: the one who’s sighing loudly, who’s getting angry, who’s rolling their eyes, who’s interrupting everyone else with their own frantic ideas. That person may be passionate; but in general, they’re not particularly productive.
Then you have the person who listens to everything, who weighs the options. Who doesn’t interrupt, but who then, when it’s their turn to speak, explains their point of view calmly and confidently. That person more often than not gets listened to.
I went to work the next day, determined to be that second person. And you know what? Not only did I manage to get my point across, but I had a much better day.
Because I wasn’t expending my energy on my day job, I had a lot more steam to run on when I sat down to write at night.
So by all means, be passionate! But not about everything. That work project/family spat/guy humming too loudly in front of you at the deli doesn’t deserve your passion. Your work does.