Re-Post: Follow Your Passion — or Develop Your Passion?

Learning to Love What Must Be Done

The following story appeared as a guest post by Mark Kinsley on Q’s Views — the blog of Mark Quinn.  I have obtained the permission of Los Dos Marcos to reproduce it in part here.  Click here to read the original post.

A straw wrapper made into a rose -- by someone with passion

A straw wrapper made into a rose — by someone with passion. He or she won’t be a waiter for long.

I want to feature this story here because young men are complaining that there are no jobs available.  I’m not certain that’s entirely true.  What may be more likely is that the jobs on offer aren’t important enough, high-profile enough or well-paying enough.  I concede all of that may be true.  But it’s more likely that the available jobs don’t sync with the very popular advice to pursue your passion.  Enter The Story of the Scullery Maid, as originally told to Mark Kinsley by the Wizard of Ads Roy. H. Williams:

The Story of the Scullery Maid

As a scullery maid, she scrubbed stone floors. One day, with the afternoon off work, she went to listen to a famous intellectual speaking in her town. When his speech was over, nervous and timid, she mustered a moment of courage and stepped into the aisle to speak to the professor. She confessed that she wanted to be like the famous doctor and travel the world giving talks and sharing ideas.

He said to her, “What do you do?”

“I’m nothing more than a scullery maid,” she confessed. “I scrub stone floors.”

“What is the stone made of?” asked the professor. The maid did not know. “Find out what the stone is made of and send me a paper,” said the professor.

With that they cordially parted ways. The scullery maid wasted no time. She went to her master’s home and examined the stone floors, asking him what they were made of. When her master told the maid all he knew, she went to the library to learn more about that particular kind of rock. From there she went to the quarry where the stone was sourced and the factory where they were shaped. She put all her newfound knowledge down on paper.

After months of research and editing, she mailed her paper to the professor and he replied with a simple statement. “Good work. What is under the stone?

Excited that the man she admired had taken time to respond, but also confused by his question, the scullery maid walked over to a loose stone, lifted it from the floor, and saw a single ant. She replied to the professor that under the stone was a single ant. He responded, telling her to find out everything there is to know about ants and send him another paper. For this paper she went even further than the previous. It took her more than a year. She traveled to every library in the land, spoke with educators knowledgeable about bugs, and spent hours observing ants’ behavior in their natural environment. When the paper was complete, she mailed it to the professor and he replied.

“Congratulations, you are now the world’s foremost expert on ants,” he told her.

She spent the rest of her years traveling the world, sharing ideas and giving speeches about ants.

Notice that the maid didn’t begin with a passion for ants.  Instead she had a larger goal that becoming passionate about ants enabled her to reach.

A young man I know dreamed of working in production at Disney. He had an opportunity to move to Orlando to live temporarily with a family friend and contacted Disney World to get an interview.  He succeeded in getting the interview, and took the only job available to him — working as a parking lot attendant at the Magic Kingdom.  Viewing this as a chance to get a foot in the door, he pursued the opportunity with enthusiasm, even posting a photo of his name badge on Instagram.  Although he has not realized his ultimate goal yet, he has a better chance of being promoted within Disney than as a stranger to them.

The German poet Goethe said it this way, “Cease endlessly striving for what you would like to do and learn to love what must be done.”

So how about you?  What is your long-term passion?  What doors are open to you now?  What small steps can you take today to improve your motivation?  Add your comments below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Bring your best manners, please.

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One thought on “Re-Post: Follow Your Passion — or Develop Your Passion?

  1. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

    You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

    The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

    Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

    “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

    I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.

    Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

    The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

    The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

    Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.

    Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

    I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.

    God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

    The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

    The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

    Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. A man’s steps are from the LORD; how then can man understand his way?

    But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

    A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great.

    I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil— this is God’s gift to man.

    As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies— in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.