Pursuit vs Passion

The last 24 hours of staycation have been pretty dreamy for me in a simplistic way, albeit much different from the family adventure to Bali we were supposed to be on. The Galli crew would have been about 24 hours into a 3-day long-haul flight to Bali, but the Universe had other plans for us. Instead of Bali, the day consisted of a trip to Whole Foods to hunt and gather dinner for date night with Chris, one really great podcast, thoughtful and deep conversations with my husband, a hike, some morning journal time outside in the sun, and a pool party with the kids. It's not Bali, but we are making our own party. The highlight for me, as cheesy as it sounds, was watching the 2.5 hour podcast with my husband and the resulting meaningful conversations that it led to. We talked about growth, our pursuits, our path, and our "Somedays". That's my perfect date, Bali or Boise.


The podcast that sparked the conversation and this blog post was an interview with world-renowned athlete Gabrielle Reece on the Joe Rogan show. (It's over a year old, but it's a goodie. If you're interested, here's the episode). They cover a lot of ground on the podcast, but the themes that I really pulled from the show were that of authenticity and pursuit. Gabby and her pro surfer husband, Laird Hamilton, both live their lives in a very pure pursuit of something that drives them. It's different from checking the boxes of perceived success. And it sparked a thoughtful conversation for Chris and I about Pursuit vs Passion.


For me, when I hear the word passion, I actually feel a sense of frustration and angst because I continue to fail at finding that singular supposed passion. We talk about passion like it's this singular thing that's hiding within us and we just need to bring it to the surface. Easy peasy.

Despite having spent thousands of hours reading, working with coaches, listening to all the "gurus", meditating, journaling, and yoga-ing, I've come up short in finding my (singular) passion.

Pursuit, on the other hand, makes me feel excited and implies more power and action. When I hear the word pursuit, I immediately know what my pursuit is, without hesitation: Growth. Whether that growth is knowledge and education, physical health and fitness, business growth, leadership growth, growth of my knowledge as an investor, growth of others, or spiritual and personal growth, I get fired up and excited about growth.


My pursuit of growth encompasses all of my various interests. It's not as sexy as the notion of a singular great passion that I devote my life to, but it makes so much more sense for me. Pursuit of something feels so much more natural. It's a verb and reflects action in the journey; rather than passion (noun) that implies there's a singular object of my affection.


I've talked before about my desire to go beyond mindset and reach the deeper levels of soul set. Writing, for me, is the thing that reaches this level. I have a long relationship with writing and feel called to write in this chapter of my life as I lean in deeper toward this pursuit of growth. Writing helps me get unstuck because it's my most evolved form of thinking, which is primarily why I do it for myself. I have considered going all in, devoting all of my energy to it, and monetizing writing as a career path. The current popular message of "just follow your passion and the rest will work itself out" would tell me this is what I should do. However, I don't think that's the answer.


I don't know about others, but I have hit max saturation on the "Just follow your passion and the rest will work itself out" message that has become so prominent in today's culture. Quite frankly, I think it's a bullshit bill of goods we are being sold. I have a front row seat in watching amazingly talented professional musicians who are genuinely following their passion and devoting their lives to a skill that 99.9% of us will never accomplish. Many of these musicians have worked their passion for over 4 decades, while still struggling to pay basic living expenses each month, even living out of their cars when following the passion just isn't paying the bills.


Before I'm totally misunderstood, let me add that I'm a faithful believer in following passions and I believe we add immense value to the world when we are working in our passions. But somewhere along the way, we have coupled "follow you passion" with "monetize your passion".

It's just assumed that if you do a really good job of following your passion, then the money will just come. While it's well-intended and some people are able to blend the two beautifully, my observation is that this messaging has created another Insta-worthy filter that erodes the pure pursuit and authenticity that comes with leaning into a passion. Should everything really be monetized?

With the current trend of everyone becoming a coach or a self-proclaimed guru of some sort, I often feel like friendship itself has become monetized. Much of what these life coaches are offering are things that used to just be part of conversations between friends. Now I can pay for that. I do get a tad annoyed at the current coaching culture and I'm sure my snarky tone is obvious, but I'm actually a big believer in the power of an exceptional coach. The real deal can be rocket fuel for your life, health, or business. It's just hard to decipher them from the sea of coaches promising you something that they don't even have -- that they will help you find your passion (again, as if it's hiding from you), then teach you to devote your energy to it, and you should be making 6-7 figures with the snap of your fingers.


This is where the notion of pure pursuit comes in for me. Pursuit often involves a lifetime of work and a directional path--a journey. I don't believe there's a destination in this pursuit. You follow the pursuit because you can't NOT do it. It's almost like it's hard-wired in our DNA. Perhaps the difference between passion and pursuit seems a little nuanced so I'm going to use my husband, Chris, to illustrate an example. He's the person whom I admire the most in the Art of the Pursuit. The last 40+ years of his life are a perfect example of what pursuit looks like in a very real and pure form, no Insta-filters allowed.


Chris is the reason I have a front row seat watching musicians follow their passion. He is one of those uber-talented musicians. There's no doubting he found a true passion in music nearly 40 years ago and it has never faded. However, he made a very purposeful decision 23 years ago that he was not going to take the follow and monetize your passion path. Did that mean he stopped playing music? Quite the contrary. In making the decision to not have to depend on music to make a living, he has spent the last two decades in the greatest pursuit of all -- really focusing on the study of great creators of music and leaning in to that soul-set level of what music means to people. Instead of being driven by the need to manipulate his music to pursue the easiest path to monetization, he studied and played the kind of music that he was truly most passionate about, for no purpose other than to learn and create. Do people still pay him for music? Absolutely. But he made a conscious decision that he didn't want to depend on, and potentially manipulate and distort his passion.


My husband's pursuit is not music. His pursuit? Creating, building. That's what gets him in an optimal state of flow, whether it's in an improvisational afro-cuban piece of music, or in his "day job" (ie. the thing that pays the bills) as R&D Director in technology. I made the comment to him that his music pursuits and his software development skills may eventually converge and he wisely pointed out that they already are. I was looking for the obvious convergence where he's now working on solving problems in the software space that are correlated with music. [He's much better than I am at seeing the less obvious and getting to the end quicker.]


That less obvious convergence of our various interests within our pursuit gets to the heart of my argument for pursuit over passion. Chris is working toward his pursuit -- creating things -- regardless of what passion he is ultimately working in. Through his pursuit and studies in jazz over the last 30 years, he has become uniquely skilled at improvisation and creating new ideas; rather than just following a rule book or sheet of music. In his current role in software technology, he's being asked to improvise and come up with new ideas -- a skill that most people really struggle with and a skill that he wouldn't have if not for leaning into his true passion with music for the last 23 years. Music doesn't have anything to do with becoming a kick-ass software R&D Director. And yet, for Chris, it does. It's all part of his pursuit.


None of this came about from Chris simply saying he was going to follow his passion. It came through action, doing hard work toward his pursuit -- for nearly 40 years in the case of music and 20 years as a software developer. Having a pursuit is something that requires work, year after year. Commitment. He's not doing it because it's tied to any promise of monetization on the other side.


When your pursuit is pure and authentic, it eventually comes out in everything you do--not through manipulation or force, but because you can't NOT do it. It's the ultimate convergence of your passions and interests. It's the Art of the Pursuit and it leaves room to explore new passions.


♡Melissa

Preview of the first couple days of "making our own Bali party" staycation.


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