Our August hiatus from recording new episodes of Add Passion and Stir gave me a chance to catch up on some I hadn’t had a chance to listen to. One consistent message of our podcast, particularly from the highly successful chefs we have on as guests, is that there was no straight line to where they ended up, but rather zigs and zags whose value was all but invisible in the moment. Few of them started out to become chefs. Some were pre-med, or business, or law. Most pursued the path they thought they were supposed to take, or that their parents wanted for them, as opposed to the passion they really wanted to pursue. It was only when they met failure or frustration that they stopped to think about what made them happiest – memories of family, being in the kitchen, opportunities for creativity, etc. and reverted to their real passion and started to cook.
When young (and eager, impatient, in a hurry) such a non-linear trajectory is the last thing one seeks. When older it feels as inevitable as the meandering course of all great and powerful rivers.
Many factors go into being successful and fulfilled: persistence, hard work, genetics, luck, courage, etc. but the older I get the more I see passion as foundational. Rosemary and I were at dinner the other night with our neighbor who is a lawyer and was speculating that our son Nate was going to do just fine because at 13 he already knew what his passions were: space flight, music, emergency medicine, etc. “He’s like both of you who know your passions,” she said and then sighed “I’m 52 and still trying to figure out mine.” Maybe… but I’ll bet that somewhere deep down she knows what it is and is afraid it’s not realistic, or acceptable, or meeting the expectations of others.
The great thing about true passion, if you trust it, is that it will get you through long odds, dark roads, and thin paydays. It’s like an EpiPen for the soul that gives you the boost you need to get past what otherwise might choke or kill you. When you are in a jam and can only make one call, dial up your passion. It’s your one sure bet.
Anyway, if you haven’t had the chance yet, here are a few episodes worth listening to in this regard: