In sports there are three levels of performance. Most people start at the "Train to Learn" level. These are the folks new to the sport who are trying it out and enjoying something different. You enjoy a church softball league game and then go home to be passionate about something else. If you have several different activities here you're a more well rounded person that the average television watcher. What you should not expect is great strides in your performance if you only spend enough time and effort to just participate. If you play table tennis with your spouse once a week you should not get upset if your serve is not as good as an Olympian. They are consumed, you are having fun. On the bottom corner of my paper I wrote activities where I am at the "Train to Learn" stage. No condemnation, but there was no passion in those activities.
On the left corner I listed activities where considerable time and resources have been spent to learn more about and to help others learn more about. You do not always have to teach others if you are passionate about something. It is in my nature to encourage people so teaching is one way my love of something manifests itself.
At this point on the paper there are three topics. USPSA competition handgun, Linux computing, and scuba diving. In each of these areas my time and knowledge has gone past the "Train to Learn" stage; I've been a firearms instructor and Range Officer, 95% of my day job has revolved around Linux for well over a decade, and my level of personal bliss rises significantly when I am exploring underwater.
Lanny calls this the "Train to Compete" level. At this stage people seek out instruction. They spend time critically evaluating skills and work on challenge areas. Having a talent helps but hard work sets you apart from the crowd faster than talent. It is at the "Train to Compete" level that you see sparks of passion driving you forward. Your circle of friends includes people with similar interests, you act like those who lead the field, and your spouse starts to wonder if you're seeing someone else. Best keep your sweetheart aware of your activities or you may have to wind up doing everything around the house because no one else is there.
In the crucible of "Train to Compete" you identify those one or two passions by how your behavior changes. For a long time I beat myself up over poor shooting. My scores did not reflect my desires even when I knew what the process should be. My circle of friends includes top shooters, my wife knew which range I was on and she knew there was always time for her. Maybe not a lot, but there was some. Almost everything that was needed to move my game to the next level was in place, but it was a lack of Passion that kept me stuck for years.
Have you taken time to self-evaluate and separate things you are passionate about from the things you just do? There is a great mental relief in not expecting more results than your engagement level provides. Spend some time this week looking at what you do and pull out those things you are passionate about. Next week we will look at the top level of performance and you will want to know where your greatness lies.