The other week my life coach sent me a video to watch with the message “I just watched this and thought you would appreciate it as well.” It was a presentation by Elizabeth Gilbert (who I totally love!) titled Flight of the Hummingbird: A Curiosity Driven Life.
If you haven’t watched it, I’ll give you the basic run down. Liz started off by talking about how for the past few years she has been preaching about ’following your passion’. She’s given speeches and written books about it; hell she’s lived it. From a very young age she knew she wanted to be a writer, it’s all she ever wanted to do and she worked at it and chased that dream until it inevitably happened. And so, her message has always been ‘find your passion and live it and don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way’.
But recently, after a presentation she gave when in Australia, she received an email from a lady who was in the crowd. She told Liz that she went along to her presentation hoping to be inspired but left feeling disappointed. In fact, Liz had made her feel like crap. Why? Because this woman didn’t have a passion. She had spent many years searching, she had listened to people like Liz bang on about ‘following your passion’ and all it did was make her feel as though something was wrong with her. Because she didn’t have a passion. As she said ‘I think if I did have a passion, I would know’. She didn’t know what that thing was, that one thing that she just knew she was destined to do or be. The email caught Liz off guard and caused her to stop and reassess everything she believed, everything she’d been selling to the people for years. What if you don’t know what your passion is?
So now, she talks out against passion and instead encourages people to follow their curiosity. Liz explained it in this way; some people are jack hammers; they have this one goal that they know they want to achieve and they chip away and work hard at it, doggedly, until eventually they get there. And other people, well they are more like hummingbirds. They flit about from thing to thing, flower to flower; following whatever draws their eye or sparks their curiosity. Perhaps they don’t know what their passion is, or perhaps they have so many different passions, so many interests that they don’t quite know where to start. And the thing is, it’s ok to be a hummingbird, in fact it’s kind of awesome. And listening to Liz speak I realised, I am a hummingbird!
I’ve tried many different things in my life; different interests, courses and fads. I have started two university degrees and finished neither. I’ve had a couple of little businesses; they either failed or I just decided it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I have ideas, so many ideas; business ideas, book ideas, ideas that come to me in the middle of the night, or while I’m driving my car… yes I have lots of ideas. Maybe that makes me sound fickle; maybe other people roll their eyes at me and think “here she goes again…” But I don’t care. The thing is I’ve always held a steady job; I’ve worked for the same employer for over twelve years. I’ve never quit my job or moved across the country on a whim and I know that I never will. Because I’m just not that’s sort of person. I’m a practical creative (if there’s such a thing). I like to dabble and explore options on the side; I’ve never been one to put all of my eggs in one basket. I like to learn and try new things and I will stick at it until I find I’m just not enjoying it anymore and then I will stop and move onto something else. And after all the things I’ve done I have no regrets. I’ve learnt so much and I figure every time that I do something only to discover it’s not what I want to do, well, that just brings me one step closer to finding what it is that I really want to do. And besides, I would rather do all the things than do nothing at all!
So yeah, I’m a hummingbird and I’m damn ok with that!
Are you a hummingbird? Do you like to follow your curiosity? Or are you more like a jack hammer? Have you always known what you wanted to do with your life?
If you want to watch Elizabeth’s full presentation click here.