Thoughts on “passion”

These aren’t my thoughts, these are Daniel Pink’s thoughts on passion.

“Of course, passion isn’t bad. But business can be a bit like love. When people first fall in love, they experience that woozy and besotted feeling that verges on obsessiveness. That’s passion, and it’s great. But as couple bond more enduringly, that fiery intensity can give way to a calmer warmth. That’s true love – and that’s where the magic is. 

So next time you’re on either the giving or receiving end of advice, skip the hot and steamy passion and go for the calm and deeper love. Ask questions like: 

What did you do last Saturday afternoon- for fun, for yourself? 

What books do you read or blogs do you visit, not for work, but just because you’re interested in them? 

What are you great at? What comes easily to you? What would you do- or are you already doing- for free? 

As it happens, I can testify to the power of de-emphasizing passion and re-emphasizing doing. Beginning about two decades ago, I worked in some very demanding, intensely stressful jobs in American politics and government. But throughout – on the side, usually for no money- I wrote magazine articles about business and work, and formulated ideas for books. At one level, it was foolish. I lost sleep, sacrificed leisure, and probably distracted myself from my paid employment. 

But after many years, it finally hit me: This- not politics-is what I did. And now, as a result, that’s what I do. 

Am I passionate about it? Sure, I guess. Maybe. Some days. But passion isn’t something I much ponder. 

I’m too busy doing what I do.”

Given that student affairs seems to throw the p-word around a little too often without really much thought, I took Daniel Pink’s words to head. It was a great refresh and different perspective. When I look at his questions, my answers aren’t student affairs specifically. They are education related. Does that mean I don’t have passion for student affairs? Probably. What I do have this passion for, this instinctual desire that never ends is, creating, solving, building, breaking. I’m not so much of a student affairs practitioner as much as I consider myself an education engineer. It just so happens that as an education engineer, student affairs provides me with the lab space and tools to create, solve, build, and break things; often with great results and little risk associated.

Having read the Flip Manifesto (see below) and digested Pink’s thoughts on passion, I’m curious. What are your thoughts after seeing this excerpt of his on passion? Don’t think too hard, just write what comes to mind.

Read more of this type of mic-dropping writing from Daniel Pink his Flip Manifesto. Available here:


6 thoughts on “Thoughts on “passion”

  1. When I was younger, my mom consistently lectured me on my relationships and the dissatisfaction I often felt. I let the F in my INFP run things, flying off the cuff, making decisions solely based on “passionate” ideals. I distinctly remember having a conversation with my mom about feeling misunderstood. Her response was, “Sue, relationships go through stages. Do you think that there’s butterflies every time I see your Dad?” She laughed and continued, “A relationship goes onto become so much more than feeling that passion. It’s knowing that every day we have a companion. Love changes and so do we.”

    I really have held onto this statement in my personal life AND professional one. My first job in SA was indeed a passionate one and it burnt me to the ground. That doesn’t mean I don’t look fondly upon it; it means that I have learned and have grown my passion into something more. Can a job be a companion? I’m not really sure – but I definitely keep my mom’s words in mind as I look towards the future.

    Thanks for sharing Daniel Pink’s thoughts and for letting us in on your own Joe!

    • I had to think more about your question, “can a job be a companion?”

      Should it be? I mean, speaking from a married perspective, if a job is my companion wouldn’t that be cheating? Job is not my priority – well…let’s be honest here, that’s what I strive to be able to say. I’ve been there in the past where the passion of the job has led to missing family gatherings, friend events, etc because “no, no. They can’t do it without me there. They NEED me.” Turns out they rarely needed me and while the smile on the faces of students of seeing me there was a nice novelty – the long term return of that investment of my time was not equal to the return on investment that would have happened elsewhere in life.

      So can a job be a companion? Sure. Should it be? I don’t think so. Especially if you are single. If you are single and are trying to date and your job is your companion then it feels like you are cheating on your job when you want to actually go out and have a social life that doesn’t revolve around floor programs, open houses, or chaperoning dances in the campus center.

      • I should have been a little clearer in my original thought. But that’s what happens when you’re encouraged to just let the words flow! 🙂

        I guess what I meant by “companion” is that everyday of your job might not be the best, worst, thrilling, or super fullfilling. Sure, there will be moments. And those moments are great! But I think it’s important to remember that even the not-so-riveting moments are lending themselves to the goal of the institution (theoretically). Do I love working on budgets or planning logistics? Not always. I love being a dreamer. But that doesn’t mean the other stuff isn’t important too.

  2. I am definitely burned out on our use of the word “passion” in student affairs. I also detest the phrase, “Follow your passion. The money will follow.” Says who? And what am I supposed to do in the meantime to pay my bills? I think there’s excitement and joy in work, but it’s called “work” for a reason, and it’s not always something to be hard core passionate about. So yeah, I’ll definitely be checking out some more of Daniel Pink – I like the way he thinks.

    • hahaha – I think I tweeted that once or wanted to tweet – “Oh you are in student affairs for thank you notes from students? Great, does your landlord accept that as payment for rent?”

      I think the hope is, and perhaps this is a bigger topic for the next generation of being told “do what you love and money will follow” money doesn’t always follow because you have to be GOOD at what you love, heck, maybe even have to be GREAT at what you love since more and more people are trying out side hustles and that requires separating yourself from the crowd as someone who is better or more qualified.

      Pink is great. Easy to read author. You’ll enjoy him 🙂

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