Passion and Enthusiasm: Separate But Connected

Have a Flickr Ball by jurvetson, on Flickr As part of my Connecting to Your Community Series (specifically Part Three), I talk about honing in on our passions and enthusiasm to help us identify ways in which we can become a catalyst or change agent. I made it a point to separate out passion and enthusiasm as different entities, and I think that merits expansion. Enthusiasm and passion are not mutually exclusive, though. In fact, passion can incubate enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can plant a seed of passion in others.


Vício Dominador by Juliana Coutinho, on Flickr

I have a passion for design. No matter where I go or what I do, I can't help but look at the way things are designed and evaluate their merit based on the thought and consideration that was put into how they were made. This applies to everything from the graphic design on a poster, the use of a particular font in a book layout, the user interface of a video game or an iPhone app or a website, and much, much more. I even look at the traffic flow in a coffee shop and try to figure out if it could have been designed better so that the condiments counter isn't hidden behind the mass of decaf zombies waiting for their lattes and cappucinos. Design is everywhere, and I'm passionate about it.

My best friend, Erin Kelley, is passionate about economics and international micro-enterprise development. Everything she's done for the last six years or so has centered around her target career in aiding the development of Arab nations. Her passion has driven her to pursue a master's degree in Advanced International Studies, and she's currently on track to finish her MBA next Spring, at which point I have no doubt she will jump into the international development waters and starting effecting positive change from day one.

Her passion also presents itself in what she reads, how she talks and what news she follows. It drives her opinions and her analysis of everything around her.

Passion is something you own. It's as close to a tangible thing inside of you that a feeling can be. It can be developed through education, but it's usually a burning desire deep down inside that compels you to do something that you love. In my case, I feel compelled to judge the design of everything I see and encounter because my passion tugs at me until I do. It's an itch. A yearning. A desire for more.

Passion rebuilds the world for the youth. It makes all things alive and significant. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Passion is inspiring. When you see passion in others, our own passions flares up in kind. But passion can also manifest itself negatively. I can rant about the bane of my existence—Comic Sans—for at least an hour. I can rip a poorly designed user interface to shreds and leave it in a smoldering heap of stinky charred remains. But that's not healthy.

Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them. —Napoleon Bonaparte

I can also channel my passion into something positive. I have spent countless hours on my website, tweaking, altering and adjusting the layout, typography, images and graphics to best represent myself and my passions. My design sense reveals itself in the bracelets I make or the projects I undertake at work, and that positive manifestation can and has inspired passion in others. My passion for design, when channeled correctly, knows no bounds.


Enthusiasm Uncurbed by CarbonNYC, on Flickr

I love Community with a capital C. I want it to grow, flourish, prosper, edify, uplift, uphold, and benefit all of those who belong. When I talk about it, my voice elevates, my eyes light up, my mannerisms exaggerate, and a smile creeps across my face—I have enthusiasm. I want to build community, find solutions, help others, and develop solutions to solve community problems.

My friend and colleague, Victor Maldonado, is passionate about art education. An artist himself, he talks about his latest art project as making artists—teaching. As a faculty member at a local art college, he dives into the lives of the students he teaches in an effort to effect positive change on them and their artistic practice. He encourages, counsels, cheerleads, criticizes, provokes thought and shapes the next generation of creative minds through his enthusiasm.

A salesman minus enthusiasm is just a clerk. —Harry F. Banks

Enthusiasm is the way by which you go about doing something else. It's in your attitude, your outward appearance, your mannerisms and your speech. You exude enthusiasm. When you are enthusiastic about something, it's contagious. A smile will wipe across another's face. Someone will get excited. Conversation takes off. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? That's enthusiasm.

Some people are enthusiastic by nature. My friend Rachel Dominguez-Benner is the perfect example. No matter what she does or who she interacts with, her enthusiasm for life and creativity is exuded by her personality. Everyone I know who meets her walks away better and more enthusiastic for it.

Enthusiasm glows, radiates, permeates and immediately captures everyone's interest. —Paul J. Meyer

Other people have learned to channel their passion into enthusiasm, and that's how passion becomes the most effective. It takes an internal kernel of burning desire and pushes it outward to spread the love to others. And when others pick up on that enthusiasm, they want more, and can start to develop passion and enthusiasm of their own.

Share Your Passion and Enthusiasm

What about you? What is your passion? Is your passion manifesting itself postively and funneling into enthusiasm? Or is it bogging you down in negativity? What are you enthusiastic about? Do others catch what you're putting out there?

As a final tidbit, I leave you with this quote that is somewhat unrelated but altogether relevant to today's culture of laziness, that I stumbled upon as I was poking around the Internet:

Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice. —Arnold J. Toynbee