People always tell us to follow our passion. But Chip & Dan Heath, the authors of The Power of Moments, highlights that passion is individualistic. They argue that although passion can energize us, it can also isolate us if the passion isn’t shared with others. The Heaths argue that purpose, on the other hand, can knit groups together as it is something that people can share.
If I followed my passion, I would just be playing Football Manager for 12 hours a day, winning 15 consecutive league titles with Manchester United, until the last of the current squad members finally leaves the club (it’s Hannibal Mejbri by the way).
Or if I followed a different passion, I would be practicing snooker all day in a journey to making my first century break and becoming as good as I can possibly be. Or I could try the same in golf maybe…
The main point is that I have spent 12 hours a day on Football Manager for about three straight weeks on multiple occasions, and I have practiced snooker for hours on end to be try to be as good as I can possibly be. The problem is, no-one cares as much as you do about it. There is no sense of contribution or purpose to being really good at a video game (unless you’re so good that people watch you play), and even if you are the talk of the town because you made the highest break in the snooker league that season (humble brag), it felt like something was missing.
The problem wasn’t in the activities I was subscribing to, it was the way I was doing it – it was individualistic. Playing video games with friends can be a good way to spend quality time together, and playing snooker for the simplicity of playing instead of competing can be a meaningful form of recreation. Instead I was optimizing for performance – I was physically isolating myself to limit distractions while playing Football Manager, and I was constantly worried about losing at snooker that I was untalkative with my teammates.
The key is to find purpose in your passions, to cultivate a sense of community and to build relationships through your passion instead of becoming isolated by them.