The Power of Passion

If mental skills are all about focus control and stress recovery, mental strength is all about passion and purpose. It’s no secret to any top performer that loving what you do has an impact on your ability to perform, now with the help of neuroscience and modern psychology we can explain why. More importantly we can come up with practical definitions for love and passion that help make these valuable mental modes easier to understand…and access!  

To those of us who are curious about how to harness the power of the “love of the game” (or project or performance)  a practical definition of the word love would be valuable.

Perhaps no other feeling or emotion has had more written about it than love. Ironically, it remains a vacuous emotional concept that is hard to define for most of us. We know that we love our families, our countries, our pets, our cars, strawberry ice cream, and even the New York Mets, but beyond fuzzy feelings or the early stages of reproduction it’s hard to specifically define the action…to love.

In our tradition of hacking the dictionary, we will start with a formal take on the word:

Merriam Webster English Dictionary Definition of love

  1. 1a (1):  strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties <maternal love for a child> (2):  attraction based on sexual desire :  affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3):  affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests <love for his old schoolmates> b :  an assurance of affection <give her my love>
  2. 2:  warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion <love of the sea>

All fuzzy feelings aside these (they go on to #3 and #4 but they are even more ethereal and less informative for our purposes) don’t really gives us a metric that we can use to gauge if and how much we love what we doFor this reason we need a definition that makes the concept easy to identify and assess.

As implied above we are specifically interested in the verb love. That is to say the action to love.  We will skip any attempt to describe just how fuzzy any feelings are and stick with metrics we can statistically assess.  To that effect…

A practical definition of love:

Love = Attention

Is that simple enough? Again, for our purposes, the action to love is identical to the action to attend.  If you are in the midst of loving something or someone, your capacity for conscious awareness is absorbed by it or them. The object or subject is attractive to your awareness.

Think about this. It’s easy to say that you love something and it’s very hard to prove or disprove. Change out the word love for the phase “attend to” and the assessment becomes trivial. The evidence that you love something is that it naturally captures your attention. When you are so preoccupied by something that you fail to notice everything else, it has your attention, or in our words, your love. By this definition loving means giving your complete mental self to some subject or object.

A fan might love a baseball game, a mother might love a child, a connoisseur might love a veal parmigiana. An artist might love mixing colors and experimenting with technique.

To an outside observer it is obvious that mom loves her child, the player loves the game, the critic loves the food, the musician loves the music and so on because it is evident that each of these has captured their attention!

Not everything that gets your full attention attracted it.   You may care so deeply about something that you give your attention to it.  It might be more accurate to say that you care about it, as opposed to you are attracted to it.  A Doctor may not be attracted to a wound or a disease, but they care about it, and it gets their attention, regardless.

Note that under this definition, loving something or someone does not necessarily imply liking it or them.  It only implies that you are mentally focus on it, interested in it, and are attempting to understand or relate to it.

I can attend very closely to a painting I don’t like or I can listen very carefully to a person I do not agree with. By our definition if it has your attention, it has your attention, you are loving it now, whether or not you love it in general.

Our definition can be practically informative as how much you love what you are doing. It can also seem quite scary and even threatening to some. If you feel that loving your children or your coworkers involves what you think of them or what you provide for them and has nothing to do with how much you pay attention to them, you may struggle with this idea.  

Insofar as determining if and how much you love your role or your challenge, however, this definition is practical, measurable, and informative.   If you keep attending to it effortlessly, you love it by our definition, and that is the power or passion.   Simply stated, Passion is a natural anchor for Focus!

The next time you are thinking about how much you love what you do, think about how much of your attention you give to it. Think of how easily it captures and holds your attention.  

If you know a little bit about mental skills, and in particular the impact of focus on performance, this point of view should be tremendously informative in terms of how and why loving what you do impacts your performance.   

Once you realize that practically speaking love is attention and also that focus is the key to performance, you will understand why loving what you do has a tremendous impact on how well you do it.

So, how much do you love what you do? More importantly…what can you do to pump up the passion?



Stay tuned for our upcoming post on the Power or Purpose and discover why its important to know how important you really are!



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