Is there someone you can point to who obviously leads a passionate life? By passionate, I don’t mean emotional or wild or loud, even though passion can sometimes be emotional or wild or loud. (It’s more often quiet and calm.) By passionate I’m referring to what I’ve written before:
“A passionate life is what happens when what you do aligns with what you believe.”
- –Delp (before)
Many of us plod along on momentum. We take a luke warm approach to most of our activities, often relying on old, automatic behaviors that don’t necessarily align with what’s most important to us. Passion, on the other hand, takes a lot of energy. It takes fire.
The magical thing about fire is that it changes one substance into another, and like fire, passionate people change the world around them. They change the people around them. They regularly (literally) change one substance into another. They burn.
We can burn too.
Last week’s article, Plan a Passionate Life (Part One), was about saying goodbye to last year and lighting up your energy for the new year. Today our goal is to locate where we generate our heat.
The best way to locate heat is to hook up our hearts.
Instead of asking one, big, all-encompassing question, ‘What do I care about most?’ I think it’s much easier to ask that question about the individual roles we play in our lives†. But even before we can ask that question of each role, we need to identify them.
NOTE: This is a longish article, almost 1400 words, so read fast to get the gist or settle in so you can focus and do the work. There’s a special treat if you make it to the end.
Step Two: Connect to Your Roles
The Pilot Fire Simple System for Everything requires we develop a deep relationship to our roles, and whether you already have a good start or have never even thought of your roles, this exercise will give you a great angle on how you operate in the world, and where you can build up your energy for a passionate life. (Briefly, the concept of roles is just like in a play or a movie, except it’s your life. You play different roles at work, at home, with friends, and with family. As a Son, I behave very differently than I do as a User Experience Designer or a Neighborhood Organizer. Those are three of the main roles I play in my life.) The following exercise is to help you define your roles in a way that connects them to your heat in your heart and to the fires of a passionate life, specifically the 5 fires of a passionate life. Give it no more than 20 minutes so you can get a draft done. Your first pass will probably capture a lot of great information.
TEASER: I’m writing a manifesto that describes in more detail the 5 fires of a passionate life. These are the different types of energy that passionate people build, refine, and burn as they make lives they believe in. They are…. ready? … Vitality, Money, Love, Creativity, and Pilot Fire.
The 5 fires of a passionate life are the core of these steps. Here goes.
- Get a piece of paper and a pencil.
- Vitality. At the top of the page write “Vitality,” and underneath list the roles you engage to build the fire of your Vitality, the energy you give to taking care of your precious life, your mind, your body, and your spirit. Passionate people are most effective when their bodies are strong, their minds sharp, and their spirits grounded and clear. Many people don’t think about their role when they take care of themselves, but I’m sure you’ve spent a fair amount of attention on your health.I think of my Vitality as the core fire in my belly. I picture a bellows down there pumping away and an iron furnace with a fire glowing inside. Feeding the fire of my Vitality is the role I call “The Stoker.” When I need rest, when I need nourishment, when I need to meditate, when I need to move or play hard, The Stoker takes over and gets that fire burning just right.What role feels right to you? Who is the most powerful advocate for your own physical and mental health? Other roles people write in the Vitality list include:
- Child of Peace (no kidding)
- Body Tender
- My Caretaker
- The Motherer
- Money. Leave a little space after your Vitality roles and write “Money”. Money is the energy we exchange with each other. It’s the very compact form of energy we exchange with each other. People who have their money fire burning are some of the most grounded folks you’ll meet. The bottom line: They have a confidence there is enough. They know how money flows in and how if flows out. The pipes are unclogged.What are the roles you play in managing the flow of money in your life? Here are various roles people embrace to build their Money Fire:
- Financial Manager
- Wealth Builder
- Future Retiree
- Love. Next is Love, the energy we give to help other people. This is an categories with an endless variety of roles that include our roles with family, friends, and the strangers we love. Many careers revolve around love. Love can transform almost any sticky, or slippery situation. People who burn the Love Fire take part of one of the most important missions for humanity: peace.What are the roles you play in which Love is the core motivator? Write them under the word “Love.” Here are a few of so many:
- Police Officer
- Shoulder to Cry On
- Favorite Aunt
- Tea Companion
- Dog Caretaker
- Creativity. Emanating out of your head and into the sky and world around you is your Creativity Fire, which I define as the energy you put into making the world a better place. These people literal turn one substance into another. Artists, Scientists, Entrepreneurs, Engineers, Citizens, Musicians, Writers, and Inventors— creators are always creating, improving, adjusting, and shifting how we see the world and how we interact with it. What roles do you take when you create? List them under Creativity.
- Pilot Fire. This is the energy you put into steering your life. The role of Pilot reflects on the past, imagines the future, daydreams, ponders, plots, and makes plans. The Pilot sets the course and then puts on your googles and finds out what happens when you move forward with your plans. The Pilot is the role that looks out for all the other roles and sets priorities. The Pilot is reading this post. It’s the Pilot that decides what you pay attention to. Make sure the Pilot is part of your list of roles. People who burn Pilot Fire are always aligning what matters most with the decisions they make.
- Shadow Roles. You may notice that there are roles you play that thwart your efforts to do the right thing. When you’re nasty, or lazy, or doubtful, or zombielike, your are probably playing a shadow role. That’s a giant subject I cover in The Ten Lessons for Designing a Balanced Life and mention them here. Jot down any roles that seem to fit, like Martyr, Coward, Task Master, Judge, or Dark Lord.
- Leading Roles. Finally, take a look at your list, and circle the 10-15 roles that need your attention the most this coming year. Make sure Pilot and Stoker stay on that list. (If you have less than 10 to begin with, great; you probably already have a fair amount focus in your life.) These are your Leading Roles. These roles are going to appear in the sitcom of your life, every week.
The Nice Treat
If you made it this far, you deserve an excellent treat, and I just hope my offer of feedback and advice will feel tasty that way. Post in the comments below or send me your list of Leading Roles and any questions you have about this process, and I promise I’ll respond with vitality, love, and creativity.
Next week in Part Three, we ask the big question of each Leading Role.
†Learn more about roles.