Passion, or discipline?
Updated: May 13, 2020
October 11, 2019
I have an ongoing debate with myself, trying to determine the relative importance of passion versus discipline in my life. Those with commitment issues will simply utter that “both are important,” and my initial thought (after Duh!) is that this is a coward’s take. Outside of those who are of the eternal belief that they can eat their proverbial cake while possessing it, the rest of us ponder this question. Which is more important? Can one exist without the other, and if not, what is the proper ratio that leads us out of chaos and into the Promised Land of the desires of our heart?
On the one hand, discipline is a steady hand. It is a calm point in the storm, and it simply answers that “this is what I/we do.” Discipline ignores the ebb and flow of our emotions and can be a dependable ally when we are simply “not feeling it.” The number of times I have had to be put in a psychological fireman’s carry by my coworkers is not something I care to freely admit, much less boast about. Discipline is studying late into the night when your friends are out partying or pursuing a career path when others are getting married and having kids – you know, living. We are told that we should be willing to do things today that others are not, to someday be able to be or have things that others cannot. Delayed gratification is the battle cry of the disciplined, and we are taught as children that “slow and steady wins the race.” Discipline is the success factor that we attribute to the athlete and the captain of industry alike. It’s certainly what these folks point to when asked about it.
On the other hand, passion shouts in a primal scream, arguing that a life without meaning is pointless. As generations fade from one to the next, the younger generation is willing to sacrifice stability for meaning in their work. Passion takes orders from no one except the beating heart that created it. The athlete may be disciplined, but without the “love of the game,” the extra reps or jump shots lack their meaning. People follow a passionate leader, not
a disciplined one. And then there’s the phrase about how “the man who knows how will always work for the guy who knows why.” Genres of books are dedicated to life’s passions, not their disciplines. Passion compels you, while discipline sometimes forces you. You follow passion willingly while you begrudgingly accept the call of discipline. The tortoise may have one the race, but the hare had style. When you ask someone who their favorite character is, you’re not going to hear Rabbit nearly as often as you hear Tigger. Passion is infectious, and the only antidote is the stifling nature of discipline.
Where do you fall? Who heeds the call of the discipline of the mind, and who obeys the passion of the heart?