In my experience, there are two types of passion. There is the passion that stems from ‘I must have this’ and the second begins with ‘I really don’t want that’. Many people will say that one (the former) is better than the other because it is more positive, but in my experience, both are equally helpful when it comes to creating massive change.
The keyword here is PASSION and I’m going to capitalise it so that you realise how important it is. Without PASSION you won’t have the drive or commitment to see things through. Without PASSION you will fall at the first hurdle, you’ll wilt the first time someone challenges you.
Your PASSION is what drives your self-belief, and it is that self-belief that will enable you to overcome the difficulties that inevitably lie ahead.
I lost count long ago of the times I said ‘I cannot do this any longer’ about the Hysterectomy Association and my friends would look at me and say ‘really?’ as I picked myself up, dusted myself down and started plodding forward once more.
One of the things that made the difference for me was when someone asked me the question ‘What would you do if you won the lottery?’ At the time I believed I wouldn’t change a thing. I thought naively that I’d simply put more money into the Hysterectomy Association to help it become the best it could be, and that I’d carry on chatting with clients and I’d still be answering emails. I thought the association was my passion. I didn’t realise then how wrong I could be.
For over 20 years I put time, effort, heart and soul into the Hysterectomy Association. I wrote books about women’s health, I blogged, I tweeted and updated and I built up a fantastic mailing list of mostly women who were contemplating surgery and who needed support and help. But in the quiet moments when I looked deeply into the inner workings of my mind I realised that the Hysterectomy Association wasn’t really what I wanted to do. But I felt I’d painted myself into a corner and couldn’t get out of the room. The longer I spent in it, the harder it became to see a way out so I closed off those darker insights in a box, wrapped it in strong steel and added a padlock for good measure.
As the Hysterectomy Association grew in popularity, I felt a fraud. I often said at the time that it grew despite me. Part of me knew that by not putting time and effort in I was sabotaging it, but it was another of the still, small voices we all get but prefer not to listen to.
I told myself stories about the writing life I’d have and that I’d spend more time writing books maybe, but essentially my life would be exactly as it was but probably in a different location.
And in 2014 I left the life Steve and I were living and decided to go get a job. I told myself I needed a break from social media; the truth is, it was my first step to freedom from the tyranny of the Hysterectomy Association.
I had been working for myself for 10 years at that point. And whilst I enjoyed the freedom it gave me to do what I wanted, I was sick of the constant income ups and downs. I needed stability and some certainty, and initially I took a contract for 12 months. I thought that would give me the break I needed and then I’d go back to my ‘passion’, the Hysterectomy Association.
In 2015 I was asked to stay on and in 2016 I was promoted into a brand new role that hadn’t existed before. It was then I started to realise that my PASSION wasn’t the Hysterectomy Association.
Over the years I’d mistaken my PASSION for a ‘thing’ – the Hysterectomy Association. But that can never be true, because that’s something that’s outside of us, it’s extrinsic and when we tie ourselves to that mast, if the boat sinks we sink with it.
PASSION is an emotion, something that wells up from inside, we may see evidence of it in our outer world, but it isn’t of the outer world. And I’ve come to believe that many of us mistake the causes, the goals and the hobbies we pursue as our passion which is what leads inevitably to distress, discomfort and unhappiness if they take a direction we don’t agree with or don’t like.
What I now understand, by watching my own journey and that of others is that our PASSION is an inner driver that can manifest in many different ways and I’ve seen mine come up time and time again.
I now know my PASSION is empowering others. I love sharing what I know with other people, I love asking questions that may prompt people to think deeply, I love putting across ideas and concepts (a bit like this blog post) that may resonate with others, and I love all of these things coming together to change the world in some way.
The Hysterectomy Association, it turns out, was one embodiment of my PASSION. Which was why, when it had run its course and I finally let it go last year, I was able to walk away and not look back. For too many years I had tied myself to its mast, for too long every time it took a roll in rough weather I felt the failure as my failure and judged myself by it.
My books, my writing, my blog and this website are all outer evidence of the passion I have. My job in digital transformation, is the same as are the conversations I have with friends, the books I read, the YouTube videos I watch and the content I share online (occasionally 😊). My PASSION runs through my life like a never-ending ribbon in the weave. The colour changes, the direction shifts but it remains constant. The only thing that really changes is the lens I view my life with.