Monday, December 26, 2011

Finding a Passion


Many years ago, I was teaching a workshop at a hotel in the Midwest and discovered that it was the meeting site for a group of historians whose sole focus was the French Revolution. Papers, books, panels, and presentations were dedicated to the topic. The elevators and hallways were filled with arguments about Danton, Mirabeau, and Robespierre.

I was impressed.

Passion for a subject and the desire to learn as much as possible about it has a special attraction, partly because of the implicit acknowledgement that the final word has not been spoken. Even those of us who are required to perform most of our work as generalists need at least one subject into which we dig more deeply than others. Of course, many people find their passion not at work but in a hobby. [Theodore White wrote that to determine someone's true interest, you should discover what their undergraduate major was in college, presumably before they got sensitive to the job market.]

A test for determing your passion: What can you enjoyably discuss for hours? If you didn't have to worry about money, what would you do?

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