As we walked into the garage sale on a recent Saturday morning the airplane models and military books were piled high on tables. When we left in the early afternoon, the tables were nearly empty of books and the stacks of models no longer towered.

I was helping out my wife buy stuff for her resale business. Most of the other customers were members of model clubs from around the Denver area. Throughout the morning I talked with the customers and watched them as they interacted with the stuff and other buyers. They never got into battles over things but were sometimes disappointed when a certain model was already taken that they’d seen on Craig’s List.

I chatted with one guy several times who admitted that they were semi-obsessed with modeling and concluded that everyone has to have a passion. And these guys had it in spades. It didn’t matter if they came from a military background or not — they just loved to talk about and build models. It satisfied their emotions, not just their brains.

You see passion all over Facebook. People are passionate about pet adoption, gun rights, gluten free cooking, opposition to genetically modified foods, religion, etc.

What passionate people look like

So, this is what I observed about passionate people during my couple hours hanging out with hobby modelers:

They put their money where their mouth is

These men were walking out of the garage with armloads of military books and models. Even though they probably had several unfinished models waiting for them at home, they wanted more. One guy wanted to buy a certain model but then said, “I want to get it but I already have two of them at home.” Some of the guys had their wives along to put a limit on how much they could spend.

They spend time pursuing their passion

One guy belonged to a club here and also travels more than an hour to Colorado Springs for a club meeting. He also meets every Saturday morning for breakfast with a group of guys to talk about modeling. After breakfast they peruse the model shop next door when it opens at 10.

They can’t help but want other to join them

I was invited to attend the model building club several times. They talked about how fun it was and wrote down the clubs’ website address for me. I felt like I was being recruited by a cult.

They want to know more and more

They bought tons of books, not to sell, but to actually read and study. Two guys were hunched over opened model boxes comparing the minute differences between a couple similar models.

There is knows no age limit to their passion

Sure, I loved making models when I was a kid – my brother and I made tons of them. But what are these 70 year olds doing playing with toys? The same thing that intrigues kids intrigues people of all ages.

Others think they’re crazy

My wife and I we were there on business. We know there are people on the Internet who are willing to look high and low for these books and models. And we think they are crazy. But it satisfies them somehow. Passion can make you psychotic but there are others who share that passion who get it.

Passionate people are willing to invest their time and money. They are eager to learn more about it. They are willing to be thought nuts. And they want others to join in. That is passion.

Where I see passion every week

I swim three or four times a week with people who are passionate about competition and fitness. Many of the people I work out with are triathletes and this passion is manifested in how hard they work out and take care of their bodies. They get to the gym at 5:30 in the morning and swim hard for almost an hour and a half. Afterwards they go for a long run or bike ride.

One friend recently had a top 10 finish for his age group in the Half Ironman World Championship in Montreal and will compete in Ironman next month in Hawaii. One woman rides for two and a half hours on a training bike in her basement during the winter to qualify for the Ultra Ironman, which is basically doing the equivalent of two Ironmans within three days.

I was recently listening to Rick Warren use the acronym, FAITH, for goal setting. Here is what it stands for:

  • Focused: Your goal should be specific.
  • Attainable: Your goal needs to be attainable.
  • Individual: Your goal is for you only – not for your spouse, friends or children.
  • Trackable: Your goal must have an end date, with some goal points along the way.
  • Heartfelt: Your goal needs to align your head and heart.

Let’s focus on the last one – Heartfelt. You have to want to do the goal or you will never accomplish it. And that is where the passion comes in. If you know you want to lose weight, but don’t have a heartfelt desire, then you’re bound to fail. If you want to increase your sales 50 percent, but don’t burn with desire, then you likely won’t reach it.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who do you know that you feel is very passionate about something?
  • What makes that person passionate?
  • What was a passion of mine when I was a kid?
  • What is my passion today?
  • What is one thing I can start doing today to start reviving my passion?

Regaining your passion won’t happen overnight. We have to start taking baby steps to revive it. It will mean sacrificing other things. It will mean reprogramming the ruts in your mind that say you need to veg out in front of the TV at night. It might mean quitting your comfortable job that doesn’t inspire you.

I recently read this in Leo Babauta’s blog about beating addiction to Internet/TV, “Think about the limitedness of your life. We’re only on this Earth for a short while, and it’s an exceedingly miraculous gift. Don’t waste it. Make something. Do something. Learn something. Go outside. Make friends. Drink the juices of life. Don’t allow your life to seep away through digital distraction. Live consciously by deciding how you want to spend your time.”

What my dad taught me about passion for work

My dad was in retail for over 40 years, 23 of them with Marshall Fields out of Chicago. Toward the end of his retail career he said, “David, retail has really changed. It’s no longer fun. It’s all of a matter of who has the lowest price.” He retired from retail and spent the last 10 years of his career coaching executives who were in career transition.

I saw the positive effect of this about two years ago. I met with a guy who had my dad as a career coach two decades previous. He said, “It’s funny, just five minutes before you showed up I was sharing with my daughter and her friend about the things I learned about networking from your dad.” My dad had transferred his passion for retail into passion for helping people move forward in their careers, and it had a lasting effect on this guy.

You’d think after five decades on this earth I’d know specifically what my passion is. I’m trying to figure it out with a lot of reading, journaling and experimenting. I can’t conjure up passion – gritting my teeth to make me care more and feel more. For me it means keeping my antennae up about how to fill up my life more with what I’m passionate about. And I encourage you to do the same.

We need help. We need a push. Don’t be afraid to express your passion. Passion is an attractive, endearing quality.


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