How To Find Your Passion


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Too polemical. He treats his opinion as if its already proven. Then provides no supporting evidence for his assertions.

What scientific research/evidence supports his idea that competence comes before passion? Passion can be "created"? He provides none. Even his logic barely stands on one leg as is.

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I think we need to get a little poetical: You don't find your passion; your passion finds you.

I don't think he even explains what passion is or it's human variability. I think passion (for) is intense love (for). My passion is human intelligence and competence. My appreciation of it in a college acquaintance led to our friendship--what I call a "best friend." He was the only best friend I've ever had. (Well, there was another, but he was all wrapped up in creative potential, not competence.) That was the essential appeal of Ayn Rand to me--her and her novels. Objectivism was just a logical add on. A cherry on top. I don't drink a milkshake for the sake of that cherry. I drink a milkshake for the sake of drinking the milkshake.

--Brant

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RR,

 

That kind of article is OK to pick up an angle here and there, but it doesn't address anything fundamental.

 

For me, before you can find a passion for an activity, you have to have a passion for being alive.

 

And that means growth.

 

There is a marvelous book by Carol Dweck called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success that delves into this.

 

Dweck talks about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, you have a standard of being that is predefined (by you or others) and you struggle to keep yourself to it. The fixed mindset is all about image--to others or to yourself. And it is a miserable place to be.

 

In a growth mindset, you know right out of the gate that you are going to fail a lot of the times you attempt something, but you live for the feeling of your growing domination over a skill (or over some other form of knowledge and action). And you feel wonderful.

 

A fixed mindset is a passion-killer. It sucks the very life out of any triumph you may achieve. But a growth mindset indicates a strong passion right at the root of living.

 

The basic problem is how to face and process effort, difficulty and failure. We all have to go through this crap to achieve anything of note. So what does it mean to you? That is the biggie passion question.

 

Think about a baby learning how to walk. It falls over and over (with all due passion) until it starts walking. Imagine if it considered itself already a walker, that others knew this, too, and falling was proof that it was a failure. On each fall, it would say to itself, "What a loser I am!" :smile: The baby would never learn to walk.

 

Over years, there have been countless psychological tests and other studies about this. Carol Dweck is from Stanford University. Mindset is her only schtick and she has elaborated it so well, she is world-famous. (Even though she is not a very good speaker.)

 

If you don't want to get the book (but I highly recommend you do), here is a Google Talk Dweck gave a little earlier this year.

 

 

Turnoff Alert: For people from a Randian orientation, there might be a turnoff at the beginning where she discusses "the failure of the self-esteem movement." However, what she is talking about has little relationship to Nathaniel Branden's concept. In fact, I claim that Dweck's growth mindset weds perfectly with Brandenian self-esteem. Even further, I believe they are the same thing expressed in different words.

 

But I have something else from O-Land to comment on.

 

I see many people use a fixed mindset with Objectivism as a philosophy. Once you identify as an Objectivist, but have a fixed mindset, you are among mankind's elite, so you have to make damn sure you protect that reputation. This means you cannot wonder out loud about tabu things, (does socialism have any upsides? and things like that), you cannot identify and share any value religious people find in their religion, you cannot say altruism is good in certain contexts, you cannot... cannot... cannot...

 

What happens if you do? Well, you might be something, but you are no longer in the elite club. Many in the community will consider you to be a fool.

 

And what about your own failures? Others don't see them, but you do. And, for as much as you try to explain them to yourself, you know you cannot have done that or thought that and still be an Objectivist. You failed and you hid it from others. Shame comes in waves. So how's that guilt working out for ya'?

 

However, look at people who approach Rand's works and life from a growth mindset. You won't find them (with a few rare exceptions) within formalized Objectivist movements and places. They are people like Mark Cuban, Joe Polish, Dean Jackson, a humongous number of entrepreneurs who surround Richard Branson, and so on. And I would say many people here on OL.

 

These people refuse the chain of having their identity defined by a set of philosophical ideas with a label on them. Their identity is defined by their willingness to make effort and fail, make effort and fail, make effort and fail and keep trying until they succeed.

 

They love challenges, not labels.

 

That's why so many of them do more than one thing in life. Take Mark Cuban. He's into the Internet (big time), venture capitalism, basketball, producing and distributing motion pictures, and on and on. All with passion.

 

Does he screw up at times? You better believe it. But he gets back up and goes at it again. With passion.

 

Is it the Internet, the business, the films, the sports that provide him passion? Hell no. He had that part nailed before he went into those other things. He loved the learning and doing and failing and succeeding. The rest came from that.

 

And this is what he got from Rand. Not a set of rules to live by. Not an "integrated philosophy" that makes him feel better than others when he says it. He got plain vanilla gumption from her with outrageous good vibes.

 

So I say if you want to find a passion for something and have not found it yet, go back to zero and learn how to fail with joy. Look at difficulty and effort like a game you have to figure out, where you have to fail to learn, not as a possibility for rebuke, shame and punishment if you fail.

 

And avoid this huge trap. When people compliment you on your ability, knowledge, good looks or whatever, ignore them. (Say thanks or whatever, but move on and don't let this into your soul. It's hard, I know. It goes to your head. But do it anyway. This is a passion-killer--sweet poison--because it labels you.)

 

However, if they compliment you on the effort you just made, on the strategy you just used, on how clever you were this time around, on how you dressed to kill this time, and so on, soak it up. This is what you need to hear to foster your "trying muscle."

 

In other words, accept compliments on concrete attempts, not on general identity adjectives.

 

Before you know it, you will suddenly be succeeding in a lot of things that are so fascinating, things you will feel such passion for, you will wonder where you have been while your life was happening.

 

Seriously, give Dweck or someone who thinks like her a try.

 

I, myself, have to do a tune-up on my own mindset once in awhile. Earlier in life, I attained a high degree of competence in one area (music). I allowed myself to develop a fixed mindset about that--I was the Maestro, the talented songwriter, the composer with awards, the best classical trombonist in Brazil (during a decade), the expert musician. And I was a hardcore Objectivist (back then) to boot.

 

This poisoned some other things I needed to learn until I discovered what I was doing. Hell, it even made music not so much fun anymore.

 

I was always on the spot to live up to an image. Nowadays, I am learning to be an ass-kicking fiction author. I haven't published much of my efforts because so much of it is garbage. Boy have I written crap. And I love every word of it. :smile:

 

Every word gets me closer to where I want to go and it feels damn good. Oh world, await the miracle! You will never be the same after I reveal myself! :smile:

 

Seriously, supreme impassioned productive triumph is a result, not a state.

 

I wish I had learned this when I was younger...

 

Michael

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You could be hit by a bus (or an unplanned romance) tomorrow. In view of this fact, it is unhelpful to assume that you know precisely who or what you are. Your sexuality and spirit are evolving potentialities that unfold over the course of time. This is called growth. It is denied to anyone who believes that his character is static like an immortal god or rock. [Eggshell ms. p.55]

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Wolf,

Beautifully said, as always.

Ayn Rand had a penchant for steadfast characters (John Galt and Howard Roark are the main ones, but there are lots of others).

At least she balanced them with characters who changed around them. Imagine John Galt without the changes in Dagny and Hank to throw him in relief. Or Roark without the changes in Dominique and Gail, not to mention Peter Keating's rise to full moral illusion and fall. (btw - Toohey was steadfast, too, but James Taggart was not. Lillian Rearden was steadfast. And so on.)

A steadfast character doesn't have much of a character arc, if one at all.

One of the main problems I believe that stifles new authors when they try to write in a Randian style is that they don't know how to shine a reflecting light on a steadfast character through another character who changes. Or, if they want to do an entertainment-only steadfast character like James Bond, they don't know how to write simple action scenes with surprising reversals and reveals, much less larger-than-life ones.

When applying this to real life, I can't think of anything more stifling than being a steadfast character, telling myself I have arrived, then trying to live without making mistakes or growing in wisdom.

A man who makes no mistake doesn't need to learn. And a man who doesn't need to learn is dead or neurotic.

A steadfast character is good for fiction at times when done right. It's great for highlighting topics and/or experiences.

Not good for living.

Michael

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It's a mistake to completely conflate steadfast with unchangeable or, worse, perfection. John Galt is steadfast in the story as a reference point of human sanity. In psychotherapy this is the proper role of a therapist to his or her client who may be frequently in turmoil needing to see and know that of the therapist. That therapist is a steady (and honest) state. The therapist should always be truthful, but not gratuitously.

Howard Roark and John Galt play the same role to the reader of the respective novels. It's not so much about them; it's about who reads about them. John Galt brushing his teeth or taking a shower would not contribute to that in the least, so that and its like was not included. It is also why one should not aspire to be them but to be oneself, to have that integrity plus a proper moral sense.

--Brant

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It's a mistake to completely conflate steadfast with unchangeable or, worse, perfection.

Brant,

Steadfast is a technical term in the Dramatica system of fiction writing and it caught on in other writing circles.

It means there is no character arc.

A character arc means a fundamental change in a character during a story. For example, the character tries to ignore a psychological wound in the beginning, then confronts it and heals it (or reframes it) by the end. Or he is morally compromised in the beginning and learns his lesson by the end. Or he is oblivious to a universal truth that causes him to do bad things, but discovers it at the end. Or he has a tragic flaw that ultimately defeats him or he overcomes it. (And so on...)

Let me run with this last to illustrate. A character arc based on a tragic flaw could be MacBeth or Hank Rearden. With MacBeth, his tragic flaw was naked ambition for power and it did him in at the end. Hank Rearden's tragic flaw was accepting sanction of the victim as a manner of interacting with others. He overcame it at the end. The story of the gradual decadence (MacBeth) or gradual liberation (Rearden) of their tragic flaws are their character arcs.

A steadfast character like John Galt or James Bond has no such development. What you see in the beginning is what you get in the end. You might learn more about him or her, but not because the character changed. It will be merely because the author revealed more to you over time.

Obviously, villains can be steadfast characters, too.

Michael

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My suggestion to a young person is to cultivate *interests* in advance of seeking passion(s) - if one's passion is not evident yet, a spread of connected and/or disparate things approached with interest (with the advantage of youthful energy), is the experiential base for a future all-consuming interest, i.e. a passion. Rushing for passion first, could narrow the field too early and perhaps idealistically. And we don't know the future, when older a fresh passion often arises from an early 'interest'.

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I found my passion at this stage of my life in photography, when I was a wee lad it was martial arts. The earlier passion has been a stepping stone platform for the newer. Discipline, hard work and many many hours/days/months of eat/sleep/thinking about it. It all has gone by in the blink of an eye. It's just plain fun.

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Of the past two posts, I identify with Jules's. Passion isn't hesitation, caution, analysis and careful selection. All of that is the death of passion. Passion is "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

J

I've no idea how you inferred "hesitation, caution, analysis and careful selection". I commented that my advice - to a young person who's "passion was not evident yet" - was to still pursue a range of things which interest him. Because he has no idea yet what will become a future passion, or remain of (useful or perhaps financially-gainful) "interest" to him. Jules actually didn't dispute that. He apparently had a passion which became lesser, I presume, to another passion he later discovered. Men grow.

It's all very well, with the benefit of hindsight ('in the rear view mirror') to imply - I did it this way, therefore everyone can learn from me. You aren't aware then that many don't possess that single-minded, constant drive from young til older. Nobody is quite a Howard Roark, and one can be gratified and proud to acknowledge that, not to feel in the least second rate to Rand's character.

A passion as a consuming interest (I call it) certainly will grab one's imagination, get one's creativity/intellect revving and bring emotional reward. You know it when you have it. Then, there is such immense pressure on today's youth to "find their passion" and "specialize", so that some will allow themselves to be railroaded into something that's not their choosing and outside -or limiting- of their real abilities and interest. Or, wishfully anticipating merely the superficial "image" of some career/activity. Or, like a few older individuals I know, who stubbornly refuse to let go of an early passion although it has subsided.

Anyhow, in the big picture even one's major passion(s) is a part of the whole thing, which is one's passion for living.

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Of the past two posts, I identify with Jules's. Passion isn't hesitation, caution, analysis and careful selection. All of that is the death of passion. Passion is "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"

J

I've no idea how you inferred "hesitation, caution, analysis and careful selection". I commented that my advice - to a young person who's "passion was not evident yet" - was to still pursue a range of things which interest him. Because he has no idea yet what will become a future passion, or remain of (useful or perhaps financially-gainful) "interest" to him. Jules actually didn't dispute that. He apparently had a passion which became lesser, I presume, to another passion he later discovered. Men grow.

It's all very well, with the benefit of hindsight ('in the rear view mirror') to imply - I did it this way, therefore everyone can learn from me. You aren't aware then that many don't possess that single-minded, constant drive from young til older. Nobody is quite a Howard Roark, and one should be gratified to acknowledge that, not to feel second rate to Rand's character.

A passion as a consuming interest (I call it) certainly will grab one's imagination, get one's creativity/intellect revving and bring emotional reward. Then, there is such immense pressure on today's youth to "find their passion" and "specialize", so that some will allow themselves to be railroaded into something that's not their choosing and outside -or limiting- of their real abilities and interest. Or, wishfully anticipating merely the superficial "image" of some career/activity. Or, like a few older individuals I know, who stubbornly refuse to let go of an early passion although it has subsided.

Anyhow, in the big picture even one's major passion(s) is a part of the whole thing, which is one's passion for living.

I don't agree with Jonathan. Passion needs direction and control--once you have it. Your stallion is passion. If you want to ride it naked without bridle and saddle--good luck. I mean, wait until he sees the mares! Now that would be a sight: your horse mounting a filly with naked you on top of the enterprise!

--Brant

passion and brain-work go hand in hand

once you're ready drop the mind-fuck and unleash your inner Kraken

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My suggestion to a young person is to cultivate *interests* in advance of seeking passion(s) - if one's passion is not evident yet, a spread of connected and/or disparate things approached with interest (with the advantage of youthful energy), is the experiential base for a future all-consuming interest, i.e. a passion. Rushing for passion first, could narrow the field too early and perhaps idealistically. And we don't know the future, when older a fresh passion often arises from an early 'interest'.

There's such a thing as being too damn careful.

--Brant

kill the baby in the crib--don't!

when you need me send out the signal (no one ever does--nuts! [always fighting off being a wasted resource])

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Here is your target should you decide to mount up!

deleted as per policy - my apologies...

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CHARGE!!!!

Deleted as per policy

My apologies...

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Here is your target should you decide to mount up!

(Note from MSK: The link is here. Warning, nudity.)

CHARGE!!!!

(Note from MSK: The link is here. Warning, nudity on a porn site.)

Adam,

Please don't do that anymore.

You will get the OL Google account compromised that way. I've already had one warning from them.

I left links out of respect for you, but the next time I will need to delete the nudity. Google is not bluffing on this.

Michael

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Here is your target should you decide to mount up!

(Note from MSK: )

CHARGE!!!!

(Note from MSK: The link is Warning, nudity on a porn site.)

Adam,

Please don't do that anymore.

You will get the OL Google account compromised that way. I've already had one warning from them.

I left links out of respect for you, but the next time I will need to delete the nudity. Google is not bluffing on this.

Michael

Michael:

It just ended.

My apologies.

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G(* )( *)GLE sux.

I ran a search for Gifs and got that site - I grabbed the video and went on about work lol

No clue it was a "porn site" which shows how dumb I am, I thought it was a nudist colony site...

A...

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