Last night I played the game Tokaido with my parents. In the game each player takes on the role of a pilgrim traveling from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo) in the 11th century. During the journey players can accrue points by collecting souvenirs, meeting fellow travelers, donating to the shrines, bathing in the hot springs, painting the landscapes, and by eating different meals at the inns along the road. Each pilgrim also has their own unique flair – my mother played the painter, my father the messenger, and I – well – my character liked to meet people.
There is no “acting” in the game – however I found myself interested in my character. My mother unintentionally kept blocking me from doing what my character did best – meeting people – and so my character went to the curiosity shops, baths, and inns to engage in what can only be called a very luxurious lifestyle for the first two “days” of the game. On the third day my character was finally able to have a couple of “encounters” with fellow travelers and discovered her love for painting – and having the extra cash now that she was no longer going to curio shops also started donating substantial amounts of money to the shrine. By day four, the final day of the game, my character still was eating very well – but in all other ways had “thrown off the cares of the material world”.
The actions I took were all in the board game; how I interpreted the actions was all me. Still I enjoyed it – and in its own way I certainly could relate to my character’s journey. I took up painting in “real life” at a point in my own “journey” when words were no longer enough to express the emotions I was experiencing. Following this I found a path to gratitude for the simplest of things – the ability to be mostly pain free on any given day, the ability to walk, the fact that there are those around me to care for my well being. While I have not given up my love for picking up “souvenirs” along the road (especially not board games) I have come to a point where I look more often at the value of the souvenir to engender encounters with others – rather than just owning something to own it.
The actions we have available to us every day are not always beautiful brush strokes across the landscapes, at times they are the more meticulous actions of cleaning a house, completing paperwork, or something in a similar vein, yet even here we have the capabilities to interpret these actions as things we must do, or actions we choose to take so that we can have a clean external and internal environment where new thoughts and ideas have the capability to take root and grow.
Today I administered the Passion Test to one of my coaching clients (thepassiontest.com). As always, it was eye opening for both me and my client. In the space of an hour we identified how he sees his life functioning when he is at his best and everything is ideal – and then we saw how certain aspects – especially engaging in the activities that he loves the most – were almost non-existent. From there we were able to develop a paragraph of one of his top five areas – the one we were working to develop, and how he would know if he was fully engaged in this area of passion. We then worked backward to develop the way forward and what he would need to do in the next thirty days to begin his journey into fully living this area of passion in his life fully. As I write this – I recognize it sounds vague. So I’m going to change the “area” but describe what we came to. One of my passion areas is writing. When my life is ideal I am writing every day – at least three times a week creatively, at least one time a week in some way that directly supports others such as this blog, and at least once a week by integrating my writing with fostering the development of another person’s confidence and sense of self – helping them find their passions. Right now I typically write 1-2 times a week for these specific purposes. I do all sorts of writing – but often for work related tasks or in ways that are less directed. As a result I probably am “living into” this area of passion at about a two (out of five with five representing living this passion area every day). It’s better than a one – but I’m clearly still allowing myself to be distracted and sending my time and energy in directions that simply won’t get me living “in passion” every day. This isn’t good or bad. It’s simply feedback for me. More to the point this is only one area of many. When my life is ideal I am also spending time with friends, I’m learning both through reading and through workshops, I’m mentoring others in the development of their professional skills and personal achievements, I’m engaged in creative movement, I’m spiritually connected, I’m having quality and loving interactions with my wife, daughter, parents, and sisters. I could go on.
In the passion test you take the time to write down what your life would like, you prioritize what you want to focus on right now, and then you develop a clear picture of those areas, and finally you take steps to start living into your passions. If you have never heard of it, go to the website. Pick up the book – yes there is a whole book. Or if you feel like it, get in touch with me and I’ll walk you through what I know. I do feel a need to state at this juncture I am not a “passion test certified trainer”. I learned it during my time with Jack Canfield via Kathryn Seeley who is! Still I don’t think this is something you need to do perfectly. It is something I believe everyone who is serious about living their lives with passion and joy should try though, and if you are like me, you will keep doing it every six months to a year. Just because it’s important to keep our passions in front of us. It’s important to remember what brings us joy. And it’s important that we keep engaging those areas of joy every day.
So that, yes, we are always in the process of Being the Difference.