This is part 4 of the series on Strengths. We talked about how your strengths can be identified by three questions:
- Energy – What energizes you?
- Talent – What gifting or abilities do you have?
- Passion – About what do you truly care?
How strong is your passion?
There are things about us that no one else knows. There are places inside us where thoughts and actions happen. Beliefs appear and disappear. Some of this is influenced by outside forces — just look at the prevailing opinions about smoking in the last generation. People used to think smoking was cool. Old movies are filled with cool stars lighting up cigarettes. So prevailing opinion has an input into the inner convictions we have.
But I also contend that there are convictions built into each of us. As C.S. Lewis pointed out in Mere Christianity , we would think there was nothing wrong with someone taking a seat in a movie theatre; unless of course someone else had just vacated that seat for a moment. When we see one person taking advantage of another less fortunate or helpless person or animal, natural feelings are aroused. As a Christian, I believe our creator built some of our concerns and passions into us.
Regardless, they exist.
So your convictions can come from your environment or within. But how we engage those convictions deep within us makes a difference in our ability to achieve goals. Convictions influence (or even direct) our ability to do the work necessary to succeed at just about anything. In fact, the more difficult the achievement, the more likely the person with the clearest convictions will complete the assignment. Your passion is the energy with which you work toward your convictions.
Your passions drive you.
Passion Turbo-charges You
An engine with a turbo has an extra kick when required. When the turbo kicks in, you get another gear. You begin to move ahead faster than you would otherwise. If you keep it engaged too long, you get a ticket, burn up, or crash. The same is true for your passions. When your emotional energy fuses with your actions, you find another gear. But the emotions need to be applied in a healthy way. Anger at a circumstance is good; too much anger or anger directed at individuals can produce negative results quickly. Your passions, properly directed and controlled are a powerful weapon. Passion improperly applied is deadly.
So how do you control your passions?
Your passions are energy applied to your values, or what’s important to you. How you nurture and feed those passions determines whether they produce positive or negative results.
For now, think about what is important to you. What are you “for”? You need to be “for” something. Often when leading a team at work and someone would start a question to me with a phrase like, “I need to ask you about testing…”. My typical response is to say “We’re for it.” Do you know what you’re for or against? As you clarify the things you’re “for” you can make sure your passions aren’t misdirected. Focus your passion on the most important issues. Don’t waste your energy on things of little consequence. Find the loftiest things you’re “for” and engage your passion, along with your talent and energy. You will have fully engaged your strengths.
Do you know what you’re for or against?
We’re not talking about a sports franchise or a political party. What issues are you for? What types of behavior are you for? Focus on your for‘s because those put you on offense. We don’t want you to be offensive; that’s not the point. When you’re for something, you create, you build, you achieve. When you’re against something you go on defense and you’re less likely to create. You might tend to defend against something rather than fight for something. To be an achiever, you must know what you’re for. It’s that simple.
Identify the talents you have that energize you. Are you passionate about any of them? Could you be? Please let me know if I can help you identify your passions and how you can engage those passions to make you a better leader. The world needs engaged leaders, passionate about their efforts. Will you be one?
 Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis