Tag Archive: passion

Working With Passion

This is where talent and passion can get you.

Last week, in my post about how modern society hates silence, I briefly mentioned the assumption that, after a hard day’s work, we need mindless activities to distract ourselves from work.  I said that was a subject for another post; well, here it is!

At the beginning of 2010, a survey revealed that only 45% of workers are satisfied with their jobs (I know this was over a year and a half ago, but I do not believe things have changed significantly since then).  That means that 55% of the workers surveyed were dissatisfied with their work.  That’s tens of millions of people in the United States alone!  If work is an important part of who we are – and in the U.S., at least, we tend to define ourselves by our work – is it any wonder that the overall mood is is so pessimistic lately?

A year ago, I was in that 55%.  I was just finishing up an internship which was an exercise in frustration, and unbeknownst to me I was in for an entire semester of more of the same.  So, from June until about Christmas, I felt like I was in a cave, pushing against a huge solid boulder that refused to budge.  Sometime during that time, I promised myself this: I was going to finish my master’s degree as soon as possible, get a job that didn’t require too much thinking (or, more importantly, programming), and get myself out of the research field as soon as I could.  I was burned out, discouraged, and had no hope of the situation improving.  When I wasn’t at work, I was doing everything I could to take my mind off of it.

Now, things are very different.  I’m getting results.  I’m much better at programming.  My thesis topic changed fairly significantly and I find this one much more interesting.  During idle time, I find myself pondering obstacles I will encounter in whatever analysis I’m doing and coming up with solutions.  The result?  I’m no longer dead set on leaving grad school; in fact, I’m seriously considering going for the Ph.D.  Once again, I am passionate about atmospheric science.

That passion makes all the difference, I think.  Passion is what causes the scientist to ask and answer deep, complex questions about the world around them.  Passion is what drives my dad, a tax preparer who works 80+ hour weeks during tax season, to go to work before dawn six days a week for three months and still do taxes for friends and family on his (very limited) time off.  Passion is what drives someone like Michael Phelps to not just swim for fun, but to train with an intensity very few of us can comprehend in order to be, quite literally, the best in the world at what he does.

Humans are created to be passionate.  Think about it – how easy is it to be passionate about a sports team, a relationship/person, a belief system, a video game?  Work is just as much a part of our lives as  a close relationship or a favorite hobby.  It might be harder to be passionate about our work – particularly if the job is not that exciting or fulfilling – but that does not make it any less necessary.  Whatever job you are doing, you have control over whether it is a lousy job or a fun and rewarding one (I only wish I had understood this more when I worked in fast food).  It’s your choice; are you going to be in the 55% or the 45%?


Pumpkin Passion!

Every so often I like to spice up my blog a little bit and share an interesting story with my readers. Most of my friends and family know what I have been up to this summer, but I have yet to enlighten the blogging world. These past few months, I have set out on a mission to grow a GIANT pumpkin. It all started in 1998 when my dad grew a 294lb giant and won first place at the Morton Pumpkin Festival. 294lbs is heavy for a pumpkin, but the world record stands at 1,810.5lbs!!!  This is where my story begins.

I may not be breaking the world record this summer, but I am certainly setting out to grow my first GIANT pumpkin! Before I arrive at my reasoning for writing this post, I want to share what growing a giant pumpkin entails. At this point, I believe I could come close to writing a book on the art of growing giant pumpkins, but I will keep my idea in a nutshell. In April of this year, I ordered my giant pumpkin seed online from P&P Seed Company. Because my funds were limited, I purchased one seed and put all my faith into that little guy! I first planted my seed inside and created ideal conditions for pumpkin germination. On May 15th, I transplanted Hublee (the name of my pumpkin plant) into the ground. Since that day, Hublee has emerged into a massive plant almost consuming all of his 30×30 foot square. It is amazing to watch how a seed, the size of a quarter, grows into an enormous green giant. I will also add that Hublee’s seed came from a 994lb pumpkin!

As Hublee continued to grow, small baby pumpkins started to appear on his vines. The key to growing a giant pumpkin is to choose one baby pumpkin and cut all the others off.  This way, all of the plant’s nutrients go into this one fruit. On July 5th, I chose the pumpkin I wanted to keep and began cutting the others off. As of last night, Judy (the name for my pumpkin) is the size of a beach ball. She has nearly tripled in size this past week! My goal is to enter Judy in the Morton Pumpkin Festival Weigh Off on September 13th. Some people ask me why I chose to grow a giant pumpkin this summer while trying to balance school, work, and life all at once. For one, I am fascinated at how one small seed can turn into a 1,000+ pound fruit. At the same time, I have taken another view on growing giant pumpkins.

In life, I often see and hear stories of how people waste their time with video games, the internet, television, and other consuming activities. Through my pumpkin story, I want to encourage you to seek out one of your passions or hobbies that can add value to other people. At first, I was growing this pumpkin for myself, in hopes of beating my dad’s record :). As I began sharing my story with others, in a way, I created a small community of people. Every week, I send out pictures to family and friends of Judy’s growing progress. Whenever I have the opportunity, I try to take a new person down to see Hublee and Judy. Whether I am out at work or in school, I attempt to bring up my GIANT pumpkin story and always manage to get a chuckle out of people. After the pumpkin festival, my ultimate goal is to donate Judy to a ST Jude family so they can carve her out for Halloween. From this story, I want to encourage readers to be creative with their passions. Your ideas could range from growing GIANT pumpkins to building a pumpkin catapult! (ask Tyler about that!) In the end, seek out something you enjoy and find a way to share that joy with others.

“This is one small step for pumpkins and one giant leap for pumpkin-kind.” – Anonymous

One more thing, if you would like to see Judy and Hublee for yourself, do not hesitate to ask!

How God Can Use Our Friends

I’ve heard it said that a person is the average of the five people they spend the most time with.  While that may not be entirely true – if that were the case I’d be the average of my officemates (scary!) – I do wonder sometimes if God puts people in our lives in order to draw out or develop a latent personality trait.

I’ve always been enthusiastic about some things, but they have mostly been weather related.  The quickest way to buy my friendship is with pictures of clouds; I just can’t get enough.  However, in other important aspects of my life, such as my relationship with God, enthusiasm has been lacking.  Sure, I experience the spiritual high after a conference or retreat, but it never lasts once I get back to the real world.  Over the last year or so, I think that God has been putting people in my life who are incredibly enthusiastic about their faith and life in general.  As a result, I’ve become much more excited about my relationship with God and truly living it out in my mission field (i.e. grad school).

As an example, Tyler and I recently joined a small group at the church we attend.  When we introduced ourselves, I mentioned that I will be graduating sometime in the next year.  Afterward, one of the members of the group – whom I had just met that night – almost immediately approached me to tell me about a class for graduating students that he was teaching at the church.  Before I knew what was happening, he had my e-mail address and phone number and was planning to get me a copy of the book they were reading.  I went the next Sunday, and it turned out to be a great class in which I learned a lot.  This same small group member is now spearheading an effort to get the group (and group members’ children, where applicable) together to read the entire New Testament in eight weeks.  He is also just about to start building a new house.  Talk about enthusiasm!

The same could be said of many of the members of my Graduate Christian Fellowship (GCF) small group.  I could go on and on about the ways they have positively impacted my life over the last 16 months, but one thing all of them share (or at least seem to) is a genuine excitement about their faith.  Out of this comes a true compassion for the other members, such that it is not uncommon for one of them to ask me about something I mentioned as a prayer request weeks earlier.  Not that they are only concerned with those close to them; one of them came to our summer reading group last week absolutely livid about an article she had read about human trafficking in the U.S.  That was quite convicting to me, as I tend to read articles like that and just assume they have been overblown by the media rather than feeling the anger that God must feel at these situations.

Faced with such examples of excitement and enthusiasm, I realized that my own life was quite lacking in these qualities.  The last few months have been quite the journey as I have attempted to cultivate a passion for others, for justice, and for God.  The results shocked me – my relationships seem deeper, I hear God’s voice more clearly, and my attention is more God-centered and less me-centered.  In this case, God used people he had put in my life who all shared a common personality trait to develop that trait in me.   We all have friends who share common qualities; could it be that God is using those friends to develop us and make us more like Him?