Insights: Holding On To Passion

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“Science Fair” is a documentary film from National Geographic about high school students who compete internationally with their science projects. Some 1,700 teens from 78 countries compete to be named Best in Fair.

This movie left me laughing yet amazed at the incredible projects these teens accomplished. One of the participants came from Brazil and, against all odds financially and academically, she worked to mitigate the Zika virus.

Each student had something amazing to offer, from flight to technical. These students were following their strength, their passions. They made incredible sacrifices to make their passions possible.

There were also many disappointments with not winning, yet none of them stopped with what they did at the fair. Each continued to create something incredible in their lives, but also for society.

It reminds me of an anonymous quote: “When your passion and purpose are greater than your fears and excuses, you will find a way.”

Last weekend I watched another incredible movie called “Mountain,” which takes viewers through the experience of hiking, skiing, and biking mountains such as Everest. As you see these people pursue their passion of the mountain, you also see their pain, their injuries, and their losses. These people have passion. I love mountains, but people in this movie go beyond what I could even imagine.

Reviewing each of these movies, there is a similar theme. They both explore and follow people who are passionate about what they are good at. They show the good and bad times. When we are passionate about something, we see beyond the tough moments and find a way to make what we want happen. There is no guarantee that we will complete our passion, however we must do our best.

What stops us from making our passions happen? We let fear, time, low self-esteem, self-doubt or money become our obstacle. Yet what I saw in these movies is that these people did not allow these challenges to deter them.  They focused on their passion, not their challenges.

Our brain is set up to create where we put our focus. If we focus on our weaknesses, or comparing ourselves to others, or our mistakes, we will not succeed. We manage our weaknesses and build on our strengths.

A successful businessman once told me that he became successful because he did what he was passionate about and then hired good people to do what he could not. He did not sit there and feel bad because he could not do it all.

Math and science are not my strengths, but I do not focus on that, I focus on what I am good at. Thank goodness for calculators and computers.

Each of us has one, or many, passions, but are we living them out? It is so easy to let life get in the way.

Nelson Mandela once said that “there is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Having low self-esteem will never allow us to find, explore, develop or even enjoy our passions. Self-esteem is essential for everything in life, from relationships to a career to being happy. Lack of self-esteem will make following our passions difficult. Self-esteem will ensure our drive and keep our focus.

Self-esteem is not about ego, or thinking we are better than, but rather a quiet internal attitude of believing and holding a sense of self that follows what is true to our heart and our being.

My passions in life are helping others, which I am privileged to do through my career as a therapist. I feel alive and satisfied when involved in this passion.

Be willing and brave enough to know and hold your passions.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].

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