However, when we take a closer look at their shared passion, there is a world of difference between them. Steve has a passion but Martin’s passion possesses him.
Passion can be described as a strong drive to carry out any activity or work that a person likes or finds important; an activity in which he invests time, energy and often money. But there are two types of passion: one is harmonious and the other, obsessive.
Take Steve for example. What’s important for him is to improve himself, to set his own goals, to develop himself fully and, above all, to love what he does. When he prepares his heifers for exhibition, he keeps an open mind. “Of course, I hope to win some prizes, but I concentrate on preparation and the experience I get out of it.” Steve appreciates the people he meets and all the experience this activity provides. “In fact, if I win, that’s the icing on the cake, but if not, I have still appreciated my experience. I like what I’m doing and winning or being the best is not an end in itself.” Even though Steve is interested in and devotes a great deal of time to exhibitions and his business, he also has other passions in his life. He devotes some time to photography, and he likes taking short vacations and spending time with his family. In short, there’s life beyond agricultural exhibitions.
For Martin, it’s a very different story, because agricultural exhibitions seem to be his only passion. “I have no time for or interest in anything else. For me, anything not related to exhibitions is a waste of time. I have only one thing in mind: bringing home the first prize, nothing less.” It goes without saying that if he doesn’t place, he gets depressed, angry and discouraged. “It takes me days to get over it. I am obsessed. I am envious of others and sometimes I even hate them.”
It is important to distinguish between harmonious and obsessive passion. The term harmonious passion is used when a person is passionate about an activity and spends a significant amount of time on it without pursuing admiration recognition or prestige at all costs. However when these same criteria are expected or even considered essential, then the passion is obsessive. When social recognition means everything and the individual expects solely external rewards, issues of self-esteem come into play. As a result, there is no longer any pleasure in the activity itself.
Do you know how to distinguish between these two passions? How do you feel at the end of an activity? Are you able to go on to something else, or to stop, or do you feel a constant need to work on your passion or your business to the detriment of your relationships with those close to you?
Does your passion steal from or eat into all the other areas of your life?
In the extreme, when obsessive passion takes over more and more, it can become an issue of dependence (gaming, Internet or work addiction). At this point, the individual no longer derives any pleasure from the activity. The person would like to devote less time to the activity but unfortunately cannot do without it.
Both types of passions can lead to success. Among athletes, musicians and business people, there are successful individuals who have either a harmonious or an obsessive passion. However, the path of obsessive passion is much more empty, tortured, painful and expensive.
In summary, research shows that people with obsessive passions are less happy in life, both personally and in the realm of business. Furthermore, when the obsession is directly related to work, burnout is never far away.
Like my mother said, “Everything is good in moderation, even passion!”