Finding your passion part 2: silence
Last week, in the first of a three part series on using chaos, silence, and discipline to connect with your passion, I explained how to use chaos as one of the three elements. This week I will discuss the value of silence.
Using silence to connect to your passion requires a special type of silence – one that is different than the silence we are accustom to in modernity.
Often times we confuse silence with white noise. As millennials our day-to-day is filled with the omnipresent buzz of electricity, cell phones demanding our attention, emails popping in, music, tv shows, podcasts, movies, and chatter from the people in our atmosphere.
During the rare times we can cut through all of that static and create something close to silence, our inner monologues fill in the dead space with constant critiquing, brainstorming, predicting, fretting, planning, reviewing, replaying, and flickering from thought to thought to thought.
To connect to our passion we need to create true silence – silence that lets us see ourselves. I want to propose three strategies for achieving the right type of silence that have helped myself and hundreds of millenials across north America find their passion.
I suggest you experiment with all three and use the approach(es) that work best for you.
1) Take yourself on a date
One of the most effective ways to connect to your passion is to simply ask yourself, “what am I truly passionate about?”
To make this actually work you have to get rid of all the normal distractions that fill the space. Schedule a few hours to be alone without your cell phone, computer, iPod, or friends. Go on a long walk in the woods. Visit a coffee shop you’ve never been to. Book a hotel room in a different city.
Your aim is to be completely alone and to use this time to honestly ask yourself, “what am I passionate about?”
I’ve never personally meditated for more than 10 consecutive minutes. However, meditation – even for one or two minutes – creates
the type of silence that you can use to truly connect to yourself and your passions. It allows you to be alone and connected with yourself.
As you begin to meditate ask yourself, “what am I passionate about” and then keep your mind trained on that question.
If you’re interested in learning meditation, I highly recommend “A Path with Heart” by Jack Kornfield (which I’m currently reading) or taking an introduction to meditation class at a yoga studio near you.
3) Friends and family
When I was about 1 semester away from graduation I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. To help figure that out, I picked six close friend and six acquaintances and wrote them an email saying, “I have no clue what I should do when I graduate – what do you think I would both enjoy and be good at?” I also asked my family the same question.
Then, I stayed silent and listened to what my friends had to say.
I was always tempted to explain to them what was right or wrong with their ideas, but I felt like this would poison the well. So I kept quiet. I learned a lot about myself from this exercise and eventually realized that I should launch Ignited Leadership.
To connect to your passions (or future, as I did), use a similar approach. Ask a few people who know you extremely well and a few people who don’t know you as well what they think you are passionate about. As they answer you, avoid the temptation to evaluate. Instead, stay silent and listen. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you learn.
The trick to making this work
The only trick you need to make silence work as a tool to connecting to your passions is honesty. Ask your friends to be honest with you and force yourself to be honest with yourself.
Once you have created elements of chaos and silence into your life, the only missing ingredient to connecting to your passion is discipline, which I will discuss next week.