5 Lessons In Passion From A Teenager

How do you know when you are working with passion? Easy, when you aren’t passionate about what you are doing, you will have to talk yourself into everything.

There will be a mountain of excuses in front of every task and the little self defeating games, that you know you play but don’t really want to, will fire up as soon as you start considering your to do list.

Have you ever had to talk yourself into a feeling?

It’s actually a good personal development tool because inevitably we all have to do some tasks that we aren’t absolutely passionate about. Acting your way into a feeling enables us to change our outlook, to get better.

Think about it, we can change our feelings anytime we want simply by choosing to do so. Part of the trouble with feelings is we rarely exercise any control over them. That’s when we are in trouble. When we don’t decide what to feel, the decision gets made for us.

Heck, we could get excited, angry or depressed all in the next thirty-seconds by just allowing every thought that comes into our head to take control of our feelings.

I used to talk myself into a feeling every morning on my commute to work. I hated my job. If I drove to work without getting myself fired up, I would go through the entire morning in Zombie mode.

Looking back, I must have been difficult to work with.

When I acted myself into a feeling, I turned the unbearable routine into something more manageable. I could get through my tasks, communicate clearly and handle confrontation better.

So that’s all fine and dandy but should we have to do that every day?

For myself, this “fake it till I make it” attitude took a cumulative toll on my mental well being. Without passion in your life it’s like trying to run a marathon while pinching your nose closed. It’s hard to breathe and you end up working twice as hard.

There comes a time for introspection. I love the question that Scott Dinsmore poses, “What is the work that you can’t not do?”  Maybe your work is great but something is still missing in your life. Start looking at some passion questions, just google ‘passion questions’. There are lots of them, I like this one.

“What would you do if time and money weren’t holding you back?” Sadly these two restraints hold a lot of us back. Equally as sad is the fact that very few people even consider this type of question. As if unaware their personal input had any bearing on the direction that their life could take.


For my short list of things that passionate people do, I don’t have to look any further than my son, Aidan. The dude just exudes passion and these 5 things come through in everything he does.

  1. Skill – He practices what he is passionate about constantly. He is 14 years old, he hasn’t read about the 10,000 hour rule in Outliers. He just gets lost in what he is doing, honing his talents. My wife and I have never questioned his abilities, but the two things that he loves the most have been completely developed on his own. Drawing and playing guitar, hours and hours and hours. He will say, “Listen to this” and play an amazing song he composed, or, “look at this” and hand me a design sketch of what he thinks the next Lamborghini should look like. It always blows me away. Skills require practice, skill and the will to practice are an indicator of passion.
  2. Learn – Aidan took his first art class this year. He has been drawing forever though. Without instruction, he has taken it on himself to learn. From youtube videos on design sketching to tracing, he has went out and found the resources to learn on his own. The deep desire to learn and take action is passion.
  3. Focus – Almost obsessively compulsive. He might not pick up his guitar for a month, because he is working on something else. Then, one day, I hear the playing coming from his bedroom. (I love that by the way) He will start and stop, focusing on each note, fret, strum until he gets the sound he is looking for. This again, can go on for hours but it is never random he is always working on something very specific. This came to light a couple weeks ago. We have this guitar shop / coffee shop in our town. Aidan doesn’t like hanging out and reading a book or drinking coffee, but he loves guitars so it works for both of us. I took a break from my conversation to go see what he was up to. ”Man your kid has got some chops…”, the shop owner says to me. You can imagine how proud I was, certainly not the first time I had heard it. Knowing what you want and focusing on it is a clear sign of passion.
  4. Strong-Will – Aidan refuses to do something just because it is the accepted method. As a parent, you might rather squash this than embrace it – but this just might be the holy grail to passion. He he was coded with a learning disability in grade two. I remember it like it was yesterday, we came home from a meeting with the school. They had told us that he didn’t know how to write his name. We were upset, we knew how bright he was, there was no question he knew how to read and write his name. When we talked with Aidan about it, his perspective could not have been more straight forward. He explained that he already knew how to spell his name and it didn’t make any sense to him to have to prove it over and over by writing it down on every piece of paper he worked on. That pretty much sums up his school life to date. We pray…
  5. Independent Thinker – Most of Aidan’s guitar playing is self taught. Not because we don’t support him, he has had 3 guitar instructors, only 1 of them really helped him grow. Why? He doesn’t want to learn music. He is completely unconventional, he plays in ways that others don’t comprehend. His thought process is completely different, not wrong, just different. Passionate people form their own opinions and think for themselves.

So Why give you this list? Can a 14 year old really teach us something about passion?

When so much of society wants us to conform to a certain dogma, it can become difficult and I think it pounds the passion out of many people. It is not our similarities that create our success. If we always look around to others and think about what is normal, what is expected and what will be accepted, passion becomes elusive. We all have unique gifts and talents, it is our differences, not our similarities that define us and these differences should be celebrated.

If you know what you are passionate about, you are fortunate. If you have lost your passion, or maybe you are a little more seasoned in life and the years have washed it away, you might have to dig a little deeper. Start asking yourself some questions What do you want to learn about? What skills do you have that you might have forgotten about? Or take a lesson from a 14 year old and start doing things differently.

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2 Responses to 5 Lessons In Passion From A Teenager

  1. Matt April 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    I like this. I have found that I, as a adult I did not really excel at anything unitl I had kids. I have learned just as much from them, as they have from me. My children are very young also, and I look forward to continuing to learn from them…. This is not to say that we dont try to point them in certain directions, and to show them the ways of life, but beleive me, most of these lessons are learned their own way, which is most cases isnt the easy way, and that helps them to learn in a way that nobody can teach.

    • teammartens April 29, 2013 at 10:03 am #

      Great comments Matt! If we all went through each day with our eyes wide open experiencing everything like kids do – I think life would be magical! I appreciate you coming by and contributing!!

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