Justine Musk, the first wife of billionaire Elon Musk, knows a thing or two about passion — her ex-husband, founder of PayPal and the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is famously driven by his passion for making an impact.
“It’s not what gives you bliss or makes you happy 24/7, but what you’re willing to suffer for — what you genuinely believe to be worth the sacrifice,” she writes.
Musk then offers a few steps for finding this:
The next time you feel energised and strong and like the best version of yourself — the you that you wish you could be all the time — pay attention to what you’re doing in that moment.
Write it down.
Do this for as long as it takes until you see a pattern emerging.
It won’t necessarily be the activities themselves — but they will have something in common. Look into them and behind them until you find what dramatists call a throughline: the essence of what you’re good at and what drives you.
Musk says that she spent most of her lifetime thinking that her passion was for writing fiction, but when she stepped back and considered the activities that excite her and make her feel “a sense of wholeness,” she realised her true passion is for “emotional resonance.”
“I like moving into that sweetspot where something in my inner life overlaps with another consciousness, including a kind of group consciousness,” she writes.
“That might sound like I should be lighting sticks of incense and showing off my dreamcatcher collection, but it is the best feeling. Writing is my main expression of that, but when I find ways to bring it into other areas of my life, I am a happy (happier) woman.”
Musk says that it is the value behind our activities, rather than the activities themselves, that compels us and that we can earn a living from in a way that changes lives.
What Steve Jobs was passionate about was not computers per se, any more than it was calligraphy or Japanese gardening. It was simplicity. He made it his obsession and his art. He introduced it to an industry that, as far as it was concerned, was doing just fine without it.
Simplicity drove the Apple identity: the strategy, the products and marketing and branding, the PowerPoint presentations. Simplicity enabled a computer company to connect with mass culture on a deep, emotional level, when Jobs himself was not exactly Oprah (even if he also made people teary-eyed).
Jobs brought it home just as fiercely: the complications of a couch, for example. His living room didn’t require one.
“Passion matters — given that you’re likely to spend more time being deeply, truly involved with work that energizes you instead of depletes you — or makes you want to stab your eyes out with your boss’s mont blanc pen,” she concludes.
“When you can put in real, focused, quality time, you’re a lot more efficient and can maybe also have a life. Imagine that.”
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