The Onion is a satirical website that posts some really offensive stuff, but they often post some spot-on critiques of the human condition.
Case in point is the March 20th post “Find the Thing You Are Most Passionate About” (NSFW language) which talks ironically about following your passion, but outside of the demeaning work-week.
I can’t stress this enough: Do what you love…in between work commitments, and family commitments, and commitments that tend to pop up and take immediate precedence over doing the thing you love. Because the bottom line is that life is short, and you owe it to yourself to spend the majority of it giving yourself wholly and completely to something you absolutely hate, and 20 minutes here and there doing what you feel you were put on this earth to do.
Before you get started, though, you need to find the one interest or activity that truly fulfills you in ways nothing else can. Then, really immerse yourself in it for a few fleeting moments after an exhausting 10-hour day at a desk job and an excruciating 65-minute commute home. During nights when all you really want to do is lie down and shut your eyes for a few precious hours before you have to drag yourself out of bed for work the next morning, or on weekends when your friends want to hang out and you’re dying to just lie on your couch and watch TV because you’re too fatigued to even think straight—these are the times when you need to do what you enjoy most in life.
Because when you get right down to it, everyone has dreams, and you deserve the chance—hell, you owe it to yourself—to pursue those dreams when you only have enough energy to change out of your work clothes and make yourself a half-assed dinner before passing out.
The satire is that people’s passions are often not their current place of work. So after a grueling workday, it is hard to throw yourself into the area of passion with the amount of commitment and time that is necessary.
I remember when I was working 8-6 at a temp job for a year after college and before seminary. My brain got caught up with starting an online religion forum. I started working on it nights and weekends and with dedication I was able to create something that lasted for five years. And that online religion forum eventually became the education and HTML-savvy that allowed me to start this blog in March 2008.
So while the nights-and-evenings approach to passions can work out, it is less likely. But thankfully, Google has figured out how to deal with people’s passions in a better way: allow them to take part of their workday to work on them, so long as it is related to and owned by Google.
If Google had waited for a committee to identify the need for something like RechargeIt, it’s likely it would have just started on it now. If at all.
“When you’re passionate about something and it’s an idea you believe in, you’re bound to work harder on it,” Proudfoot explained. “Just about all the good ideas here at Google have bubbled up from 20 percent time, or something like 20 percent time, where people have their own idea and run with it.”
Another example: Google News, the product of Google scientist Krishna Bharat’s 20 percent time. Not long after 9/11, Bharat was trying to find news stories online. “I was wasting a lot of time going to different Web sites to find the same story, and I figured, well, I know how to extract this news, now all I have to figure out is how to put it together in one compact place.”
And he did. Today millions of people use Google News the way Bharat envisioned. Had he not had that free unpressured 20 percent time to explore, he wouldn’t have tried it.
While this concept originated with 3M in the 1970s, it is now a current reality in many companies that cuts through bureaucracy and allows creative ideas to find a community who can bring it to fruition. Churches use it too.
In the church, my inspiration comes from a former pastor of mine. Early in his ministry, my pastor was assigned to an aging congregation that, to not mince words, just wanted a chaplain to preach and bury them, not a leader to help them grow. The Pastor had some spare time on his hands, so he went on a mission trip overseas. He saw the need and the way how local churches could get involved, so he began leading mission trips every year to this country. Every church move then got involved as well. Finally, my pastor got to the point where he is now doing mission work full-time–and is paid for it. His 20% time passion became his 100% job passion–and he couldn’t be happier and has seen real change come from his leadership.
So my hope for you, dear reader, is that you find a way to use 20% of your job, your church time, your social time, somehow find a way to nurture that seed now. Find a way to make it happen. Because one day it could become 100% of your job…and who knows what that could bring.