I have discovered this plain and simple fact: Discipline is of far greater use and has a much wider (and deeper) level of utility than passion.
The reason is because most of the things that I’m passionate about actually change, if that makes sense. But, more importantly, it’s too hard to know the difference at times between what I’m passionate about and what I’m really, really, really, into.
In other words, I can be too easily deceived about the depth of my interest in someone and/or some thing rather than an authentic life-long, unchangeable passion. I mean, we all know this, right? Emotions can be so deceptive…
But, discipline, on the other hand, is something else entirely. There is a level of absolute control, of intentionality, and even optionality to it all. I have decided what I will pursue and what I will do with the limited time and resources that I have.
This veritable habit, discipline, investment is so much more sure than a flimsy passion. And, regarding what I am to do with myself both professionally and vocationally, discipline helps direct my path in a much better, concise, and consistent way.
I am good at what I invest in. You are good (perhaps even great) at what you invest in, the things that you and I discipline and train our bodies and minds and souls to do day-in and day-out. The rest is just details and more-often luck.
And “luck” is fine, by the way. I think it’s a major factor in much of life. You can call it “luck” or “providence” or God’s Will or divine destiny as you prefer; I suppose the common denominator is simply that there are some things (most things) that are completely outside of your control.
Which leaves discipline to fill the gap and which it is so much more useful than passion. It is nothing but discipline that has lead me to blog daily for the last 14 years. It is nothing but discipline that has helped me amass 17 years as a software developer. It is nothing but discipline (i.e. commitment) that has helped me wife and I celebrate nearly 10 years together.
What’s so neat is that some of those disciplines can (and will) turn into qualified passions. I think I could semantically and ontologically argue a separation of the two ideas but that’s a much bigger conversation than a blog post (and one that I’m not sure I could describe well on digital paper).
My true commitments are small, just like the set of my true disciplines. In contrast, my passions are as wide and as varied as life itself, and many of them are just temporary, fleeting and fanciful parts of history that will be gone before I know it.
So, naturally, it’s better to invest in all of the areas of your life around your disciplines, the set of core commitments that you’ve made, and the things that you are fundamentally for and not against. Again, that set is smaller than you and I probably realize and/or admit.
And… that’s probably a good thing, for our own sake.