Friday, August 13, 2010

Passion - The New Ambition?

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is having some fun with its magazine this month. Holland Herald, tucked into the pocket at each seat, is always a good read, and for August KLM the magazine has shaped itself as an "issue subject." The editors are calling it "the passion issue" and it's full of interesting, sometimes charming, and sometimes silly articles and quotes about the role of passion in our lives today.

I loved the opening sentences: "The planet is awash with the passionate. Job applicants, teachers, sportswear companies, and estate agents - wherever you look, people, firms, and teams bandy the word around with reckless abandon. It's claimed as a positive attribute, as a sign of commitment, and something to be embraced...."

Fair enough. Not sure I'm quite ready to go along with that overall paint job ("estate agents"? -the folks who are trying to get me to buy property in this fiscal climate? Give me a break!) but it is kind of curious to think about how we relate to passion as it's displayed in our communities and the environments where we spend most of our time. But - according to some - it's not really passion if it's only an interest. The example given is that someone who has an interest in playing the guitar and perhaps plays it is not necessarily passionate about guitar playing. Guitar playing becomes a passion only when that guitar player begins to think of himself or herself as a guitarist.

Whew! Close call there. I'm often accused of being passionate about opera singing but thankfully for my friends and family I don't (yet) think of myself as an opera singer.

How strange that would be for everybody else!

Interestingly, one of the points made about passion is that idea mentioned above, that passion is thought of as a positive attribute. Not so hard to understand. Wasn't it not-too-long-ago that ambition was considered a negative trait, an attribute that implied selfishness and thinking only of advancing one's self? Look how that got turned around. Now we seek out ambitious people to connect with. We've learned that people who are willing to move themselves forward are good to be around, since they are often on a trajectory that leads, often, to success in one form or another and we're happy to go along with them. Perhaps passion will be the new ambition.

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