Shifting Focus Towards Passion

Words are powerful. It’s interesting how we attach so much emotion to a word. Then we string these words into a story that we repeat over and over, often unaware of how it affects our inner being. 

I have been told that I can be intense on more than one occasion. In my mind, whether it was intended that way or not, I interpreted that as a character flaw – thinking that my intensity made others uncomfortable. I equated it to words like harsh, severe or extreme even though I could have gravitated towards focused, deliberate or strong.

This word, intense, became a theme that kept creeping up.

Several years back, I asked someone to describe me in three words, and you guessed it, one of those words was: intense. This time, with further inquiry as to why she chose that word, a new word surfaced. In that process of going deeper and exploring, she gave me a different answer that she said better articulated what she meant. The word was passionate. This word immediately resonated with me. 

At that moment, there was a shift. Nothing changed, and yet, everything changed. I was still the same intense person, but now with a new interpretation, a recognition of how my energy could be focused to inspire someone. How I showed up each day after that was slightly different. 

The intensity that I channeled stemmed from experiencing the loss of my mother as a child. Death is a masterful teacher. The reality is, life is short, and that no matter how strongly you wish, you can’t roll back time for even a moment to make an adjustment that would change the outcome. We aren’t promised more than this present moment and it’s up to each of us how we choose to use it.  

There is no arguing that I can be intense, but when you’ve stood in a moment that changes you, that clarifies what is important in life with no certainty of how much time you’ll have, you get passionate. At least I did.  

I’d like to think that from that deep pain, my capacity for joy increased, that my awareness was heightened in a way that guides me to appreciate all the ways life expresses itself. That I was abruptly nudged to focus on what I have and not what I lost. 

With an intensity to extract every drop of life’s experiences out of my days, I am certain there have been moments where I was “intense.” In the past, I’ve struggled with boundaries. In my attempt to encourage others to live fully and face their fears, I’m sure I’ve overstepped. I so desperately wanted to reach people at their core, awakening them from their slumber routine, and ignite their passion. 

Time has also been a great teacher. Throughout the years, my approach softened, at least for the most part. Time and experience, when accompanied with reflection, offers many insights. We are all on our own journey. Now when I feel prompted to intervene, I step back and look at what internal work I need to do. It’s often the things we feel compelled to comment on about others that requires our own reflection.

I wanted people to live boldly, but the truth is, I was not playing full out. Sure, I was always the first on the dance floor, the first to put myself out there and try something new, and someone who moved in spite of fear most of the time. But when it came to work, or what some would define as life’s purpose, I wasn’t surrendering to my passion.

Communication has been a lifeline for me. It’s the people in my life that have given me the greatest joy and they’ve carried me through the hardest of times. It’s in those moments when we pour our hearts out or share our dreams that we connect in meaningful ways. 

Over the last decade, the importance of communicating well and bridging understanding has become my driving force. I’ve never been one to shy away from difficult conversations, or to stand so firmly in a position that I can no longer hear another perspective. I welcome conversation. I’m passionate about it. And with that passion came the desire to grow, consuming information and seeking experiences to be more effective in my communication. 

I committed to improving my message and delivery. I joined Toastmasters, and after years of work, this past spring received the Distinguished Toastmaster Designation (DTM) award from Toastmasters International. But more importantly, I aligned myself with others who share my passion. Again, it’s the people in life that make all the difference. The John Maxwell Team has been the other place I have found a strong sense of community. Being part of these two organizations has accelerated my learning, expanded my impact and fueled my passion. Once you align with your purpose, the world meets you in unexpected ways. 

It was then, just two years ago, that Siouxland Magazine came into my path. Within an instant the decision was made. It was a vehicle to have community conversations and lead towards my passion, communication. In the last two years, through the magazine, I’ve been able to reach people that I might not have otherwise, to engage them in meaningful community-based conversations. And in every passing day, the expansion keeps unfolding.

What could the world have in store for you if you chose to yield to your passion? Life will surprise you when you show up ready to play. Life is supposed to be fun and your passion is a massive indicator that you are on the right path. You might find that your passion can be more than a pastime, but regardless it will light you up and bring you joy.

My business Empowering Conversations publishes Siouxland Magazine, but it’s also more than that. Through the Facebook page, I’m growing a community that thrives on connection and person growth. It’s here I’m going further with my passion, having insightful conversations that support others in their journey to explore and live out their purpose with passion. Hope to see you there. 

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