The Geography of a Person’s Passion

Sunday Morning

For the past 5-6 months I have participated in a forum for up and coming corporate leaders. The opportunity presented to those who make the investment is concerned with the separation or identification of ones self relative to the identity we have in business.

Many of us become the label of our business title. One of the first questions we ask each other when we meet is concerned with what a person does for a living. It may be a gauge of how we interact with the person.

For this forum, we are required to do a lot of reading and writing. We must look within, along with taking time to read, study, watch a few purposeful movies and listen to some talks. Some of the books like Machiavelli were new investigations on material we may have read in previous studies. While there were a few books I chose to gleam through, I did take the time to read with the intention of comprehension and recollection. As I read, there were some questions that I had bubbling up. Some of these questions took me on a bit of a sidetrack journey and in one case, there was a professor talking about Machiavelli in a video that I decided to watch. I was interested in his enthusiasm and delivery of the lecture. One of the things he brought up was this concept of the geography of a person’s passion. It is possessive the person owns their passion. It asks where a person is with their passion and spills over to a person’s intention and action. It also lends itself to a person’s desire and the extent of what they are willing to do. Examples of this are found in the great extreme of living for or dying for the cause.

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on

Following this personal epiphany, I mentioned it to a select few people in conversation who I thought might want to take this concept a play with it mentally on their own. I set it on my mental shelf of cool things I’ve heard that will stick with me and walked away from it, until this week. The forum is coming up and I had a few more books I needed to read and process. I read through a book on leadership legacy and it was fully chocked with every cliche concept you could find on leadership. I was a bit exasperated and ready to just turn myself into a reading drone where I’d seek to retain enough to discuss but not really dig in. In a matter-of-fact manner, the book called out that the word “passion” in Latin is defined as suffering.

What the? Wait for a second … Did I forget or ignore what passion meant before? What did I miss? Was I not paying attention? Passion means suffering or is tied to suffering? I automatically transposed words in my head and replaced the word passion with “suffer.” I also realized this wasn’t new information as the moving title “The Passion of the Christ” is about suffering, right?

It’s not my work, it’s my suffering

It’s not my work it’s my suffering

The feelings of enthusiasm or intense desire, the affinity of love as an emotion defined. What the definition does not go on to say is “that which I AM willing to suffer.” Gracious reader, please forgive me if this is new to me but you are acutely aware. I never personally replaced the word passion with suffering in some interchange to see what it meant to me in a deep and meaningful way. This simple exercise has added a new color to my painter’s pallet. It brought off the shelf this idea and concept of the “geography of a person’s passion” as it asks the question.

Where are you in your willingness to suffer and to what extent and to what end?

Is what you are doing in your life that which are you truly willing to suffer?

What happens for you if you change the words “I am passionate about” in a statement about yourself to “I am enthusiastically willing to suffer for this.”

I’ll share one short story about my mom which helps me realize this concept in the depths of my emotions and my soul.

My mother was in the hospital terribly ill and suffering from pain. Her cancer had spread, she had a number of other issues which were cropping up and from my perspective, mom had become a petri dish for doctors to examine and test. Some of the tests were absolutely ridiculous based on the information provided. As an example, they scoped her heart based on anecdotal information resulting in a result that showed healthy, clean, and clear arteries. My sister and I were supporting the actions she chose to take but there were many times that we were perplexed as to why she would choose to allow the doctors to do one thing or another.


You know, the kind of emotional pain that takes a person to stop writing, look out the window, and hold back the welling tears because the emotional pain hurts physically. Yeah, I am there at the moment.

Photo by Domenico Paolella on

Alright, so I get on the phone with mom and I ask her “Ma, why are you letting these people do this to you?” Her reply explains all of this writing in a simple sentence.

“Howie, they are learning from me.”

Without getting into the rest of the conversation, what I can share with you was her willingness to suffer from the perception that she would help others. Her passion, her place, the geography from where she was emotionally and physically had great clarity to her. She was willing to risk it all and die for someone to learn something from her condition and her situation in order to help others. This is consistent with her desire for a meaningful legacy.

“Thanks, Ma”

I’d ask you to take this as an opportunity to use this idea and concept to explore your passion.

Take time to ask yourself the questions about that which you are willing to invest and suffer along with the feeling of enthusiasm and emotions all associated with the word PASSION.

What do you think?

Posted in KM.