Where Do Passions Come from?


Sleepy, Needy, Poppy and Grandma were driving along the Newport Beach section of Pacific Coast Highway debating about where to have lunch.   Grandma rejected each of Poppy’s restaurant suggestions with female perspective.  “That place is too quiet to bring kids.   Sleepy won’t sit still there.  What would Needy eat? That place has nothing that’s on my diet,” when all of a sudden our 26 month old grandson, who rarely speaks in sentences, blurted out “I like that car.”  We all turned at once to see the object of his desire – a brand new yellow, red and gold McLaren sports car with butterfly style doors was there on display in a car dealer’s show room window.  The car’s designers had obviously mastered the art of seduction.

Grandma laughed and said “Wait until that impression bubbles up years from now when Sleepy’s father goes to buy him his first car.”  I can hear my son’s astonishment . . . Where did that come from?  at Sleepy wanting a $1.1 million sports car.

We spend our life accumulating and then trying to make sense of impressions.  We often want things but also need to determine if the effort or risk is worth the object of our desires.  Pacific Coast Highway has a long history of monied characters and trust fund babies killing themselves in high performance sports cars.

Though I suspect Sleepy wouldn’t understand but Needy might, I told Sleepy he should either marry well or he better get started soon harnessing his emotions so he could withstand years and years of arduous practice to master his chosen profession.    Making wealth or hanging onto wealth is a difficult process.  These are learned skills and the distractions are subtle and endless.   Membership in the lucky sperm club might have its privileges but third generation wealth rarely lasts.  Business models are changing so fast it’s getting harder and harder to live off past successes.

Diligence is the source of most wealth.  If you are so lucky to receive the gift of passion for a cause or task, you will still need to develop your ability to harness your strengths and weaknesses.  The movie Arthur is a great story about unbridled passions; the havoc wealth can cause for someone unprepared to handle abundance and the downside of attractions to toys and bling.   Even if you marry into money, the challenges are still there.  Look at the sad story of Maureen O’Connor, the widow of the co-founder of Jack-in-the Box restaurant chain and former mayor of San Diego, who recently acknowledged in court she misappropriated more than $2 million from her late husband’s foundation,  to fund a casino gambling habit where she won and lost over $1 billion.

How can you harness your emotions so you can obtain the objects of your desires?  It takes practice, practice, practice.  A strong work ethic combined with a passion for discovery and exploration can translate into higher motivation and persistence.  You learn by doing: hours and hours of study, miles and miles of running and if you are going to be an artist, acres and acres of painting.   There are no short cuts.  Self awareness and the ability to motivate yourself will allow you to find contentment …a runner’s high . . .  where others find the work hard or impossible.  The mild euphoria that accompanies passion will allow you to handle the waves of emotions that try to distract you from your mission.

Passion allows you to work later at night and get up earlier in the morning.  You can’t stop feelings from bubbling up from within but you can learn to harness them.  You need to learn to self-motivate, control your impulses, manage your ego, handle frustration, and delay gratification while you grind it out.  Passion will take you beyond proficiency –  to not only be the best of the best but the only one who can do it effortlessly, over and over again.

Upon arrival at Woody’s diner, Sleepy was fast asleep in his car seat.  Grandma said she would stay with him while Needy and I ate.   I have learned when plans fall part, some people dream about fast cars while others get to enjoy a banana split with their granddaughter.