Instagram. They love an inspiring quote over there don’t they. My favourites are the completely nonsensical ones which are so profound – here’s one for you –
But the ones I think are downright depressing are the pretty pink and rose gold ‘motivators’, for example –
Naughty of them, I think, suggesting that if you aren’t doing it full on with passion, you’re doing it wrong.
Honestly? I love my job at DKA. I love my colleagues, I love our beautiful office and I love being the frantic swan legs under the surface of the pond which is our smooth and tranquil company, helping make the big stuff happen (the brilliant design!) by making sure those guys don’t need to think about the small stuff (the light bulbs! The toilet rolls!).
But is this stuff really my passion?
No dear reader, light bulbs and toilet rolls are not my passion. And sometimes I do like getting up in the morning and dragging the Family Griffin forth to their destinations but that is not my passion either. I’m not really following Instagram’s advice to the (cliché’d and beautifully typefaced) letter.
What is my passion?
The fact is I don’t think I have one.
Listen carefully. Can you hear the sobbing? That’s the Instagram Unicorn, weeping for my doomed soul.
I’ve got stuff I like a bit. I like going to the theatre and I love the ballet, I love love my cats and poking around graveyards, I love love love gin and my family and Disney films and gin and gin. But that’s not passion. I don’t want to be consumed by any of those things, all day every day. What I’m trying to say is even if my job was being with my cats – even if my job was GIN – I still don’t think it would be my passion. I’m just not that passionate.
I’m passionless. If I was a fortune telling fish, I would not bend or flip. I’m a passionless fish.
How would a job that I was passionate about feel?
A rush of excitement (like watching something amazing at the theatre, not so much like stroking a cat, that’s a bit odd) is a different sensation to the warm comfort I feel from working hard and mindfully to give my occupation impact and autonomy and effect. Which in the field of admin means that nobody notices anything is happening. If you are a good administrator your colleagues ignore you almost entirely because they have nothing to notice…because the lights are on and theres toilet roll, and their phones don’t keep ringing but when they take the call I’ve already filtered out the cold callers and the nonsense. I really love that stealth. The less you notice me, the better I’m doing.
Ninja admin. I’m so good you can ignore me. Now that did actually sound a bit…passionate?
Steve Jobs (for hold tight, I’m about to compare myself to him) told students at Stanford in an address (paraphrased) ‘you’ve got to find what you love, don’t settle’. That sounds suspiciously like ‘follow your passion’. But that’s not what Steve Jobs did. At the time when he stumbled in to Apple he was ‘passionate’ about Eastern Mysticism. Then, being open to opportunity, he sensed the scheme was bigger than he had initially imagined and he poured a lot of energy in to building a company that sold computers. He didn’t follow passion – he cultivated it. Now I do realise that Steve Jobs wasn’t Practice Administrator in a Bath based architects practice but passion can be cultivated in many different fields.
I haven’t in all seriousness just banged on with guileless candour trying to insinuate that through my work I am somehow living my passion – but I’d be willing to bet most of the people who create those Instagram posts aren’t either. They just feel like they should be.
So if I don’t try to follow my passion, but try instead to focus right in on the tiny things, maybe there’s a crumb of something that’s not that far from passion there already.