Friday, July 18, 2008

How to pursue your passion? . . .

Photo courtesy of Zachary Wolf: Picture of BlaineUSA Coming in from Surfing the Oregon Coast

I've heard it said that there are 3 levels of conversation, each indicative of the connection you have with your conversation partner. The first level is to talk about people and things: events, weather, gossip, etc. Second level is conversation about thoughts and ideas. The third and deepest level is to discuss personal feelings. . . Welcome to level 3 with me, where I tell you a little about how I feel. The topic: how to pursue your passion?

I was having a conversation with my wife the other day about how I have a yearning to be in front of people--to perform. It came up when I was fantasizing out loud with her about how fun it would be if I were a rock star or a teacher instead of a Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Maxwell Products--the small Utah manufacturer of hot applied polymerized crack and joint sealants for asphalt and concrete pavements for whom I currently work. (And yes--rock star and teacher are just about equal as a fantasy to me. . . at least the kind of teacher I would be! -ha.) I told Lisa that I love the pressure of having an audience that is interested in what I'm saying or doing. We reminisced a little about the hypnotist show and Karaoke competition I entered on the cruise we took a couple years ago. Loved being on stage! I also thought about my list of the top 5 most exhillerating moments of my senior year in highschool, wherein most of them revolve around my executing some kind of pressure performance or involvement with people.

(Here's that list as an aside:)

5. Stage diving at a Skankin' Pickle concert in Logan, UT
4. Kayaking the Ogden river from PineView to Ogden (class 4 rapids) w/ my brother Lance.
3. Singing and winning a group Karaoke contest in front of 1,000+ student government reps.
2. Closing out the finals of the state Lincoln-Douglas debate championship along w/ one of my best friends, Matt Hong, for the second year in a row. (Tom Yates, from our school, filled the 3rd of 4 semi-final spots, so only one of the 3 of us from BHS had to compete in the Semi-Finals against the 4th debater from another school. I drew the lucky lot of having to face the 'must win' round against some girl from [I think] Centenial High in order to clench the tournament. The extraordinariness of the pressure was parallelled only by the stellarness of my performance. I won the round, and felt the memorable thrill of creating a solid victory for our team. It was amazing.)
1. Attending the temple for the first time, and coming to appreciate and commit to a more tangible sense of spiritual things than I had ever known before.

Anyway, back to my story. . . I was talking with my lovely wife, Lisa, about how I think I would find a bit more enjoyment in a job or business that somehow required some kind of regular audience-driven performance from me--as opposed to the one-on-one sales transactions I have on a regular basis. Being the 'driver/doer' kind of guy I am, I told her I had devised a plan to start a business where I offer to teach entrepreneurs or small to medium sized business executives how to expand their businesses to foreign markets (something with which I have a fair amount of experience.)

At the same time I told her how I was moderately offended by my uncle, Larry, because when I told him my plan, he offered the counsil: just be sure not to spread yourself too thin. I went off on her about the nerve of this guy (my uncle). "How dare he tell me I'm not good enough to start this new thing I have an idea to do!" I said to my wife. She was just quiet.

I knew what she was thinking, so I told her to go ahead and tell me about how she was on Larry's side--namely, against me on starting to pursue my passion of teaching. Her response was that neither she nor Larry were against me. Quite the opposite: they were for me. They were both just telling me to be cautious so as not to hurt myself or those I care most about. Then she reminded me that I had recently started an internet retail business that seemed to be occupying plenty of my time, not to mention the task I have at Maxwell Products of setting up and managing distributors all over North America and Internationally, plus I just started my MBA. I also have the responsibilities associated with keeping track of the import/export venture I have been working on for the last 2 years. As gracious as she is, she didn't even bring up the fact that my top priority in life is to be a great father to my 4 children and an extraordinary husband to my lovely wife. Nor did she mention my commitment to serve in my church in whatever capacity to which I might be called. I also thought it best not to mention to her my goal of consistently hitting less than 45 on nine holes of golf.

"So". . . she continued, "I just think we're voicing a word of caution on how many tasks you take on." We talked for a few minutes about whether or not their caution sign was like those caution signs you see on the road where behind them, there just is no road; and are therefore, in essence saying "Don't drive here!" or "You CAN'T do this without really messing up your car" --car, being the symbol of my life in this metaphor. See examples below:

Thanks to radiofish, Chris Carmago, and Butterfingers and their Flikr pages for the above photos.

Lisa said the caution she was offering might better be compared to a Yield sign, where I really ought to look twice before proceeding forward, just to make sure the coast is clear, and to make sure that it's really 'my turn' to go. To maintain literary balance, I've included some pictures of her metaphor here:

Thanks to Brixton, Lisanne, and Chris Campbell and their Flikr pages for these photos.

To protect my pride I didn't tell Lisa that, similar to her advice, my uncle Larry had quoted Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." He told me that if I loved teaching or being in front of people, his life experience had taught him (he's nearly twice my age) that life would find a way of bringing that opportunity to me in the proper time and season. He also pointed out how some of those opportunities are already being offered to me as part of my current church responsibilities as Sunday School President.

My question is this: When is the right time to start pursuing something I have come to feel passionate about? What are the reasons not to pursue such things? (and here comes the feelings part. . .) I feel like I have chosen on occasion to not do some things I really wanted to do out of respect for repsonsibility to things I care about more. And I genuinely feel this has been the right decision for me and my family. In fact, on the whole, I think I have done the right thing with my life so far. Let me restate that so it's clear: I don't think my life could have turned out (or be turning out) any better than it is, and I'm very happy with the decisions I have made and the pusuits and achievements I have accomplished so far.

I think that mothers and wives or husbands and fathers who abandon what they have created to 'pursue the dream' are among the most irresponsible and pitiful people in the world. I once watched a PBS documentary on 'The Mormons' wherein one of the persons they interviewed was a famous artist who 'looked around at his wife, children, and picturesque home, and realized [he] was living a dream; it just happened to be someone else's dream' (paraphrased). So, he left his family and the church, and all that was virtuous in his life to go be a famous gay artist. Now, I suppose he thinks he's happy. To me, he seems to be a selfish scumbag. No sense of responsibility to what is right. Just selfish. A new axiom I hope to live by is this: Selfishness Never Was Happiness! (I think my next book ought to be about living 'outside yourself' rather than always looking inwardly, as I feel our generation is being programmed to do.)

Anyway, back to me (ironically--after a statement like that). . . I don't want to be that selfish guy who thinks more about himself than anyone else. I also don't want to underachieve whatever potential lies within me to accomplish. Unlike the artist who felt that his family held him back from whatever his dreams may have been, I feel quite the opposite about family; namely, I wouldn't be half the man I am without my family. I feel I have literally learned more about myself, accomplished more for myself, for my fellow man, and for my God, and become more of a man in the nearly 8 years I have been married than I have in the entire remainder of my life. (I have already started my book about this theme. It's called Blaine D. Hone - The Autobiography. I'll let you read it when it's done ;)

Unlike the gay artist who was conflicted between his selfish animalistic instincts and the gospel truth that decries such sinfulness, I think my struggle revolves more around a conflict between time/energy and my desires to accomplish. In other words, I have so much I want to do and so little time and energy in which to do it. Certainly, I have been blessed with the same 24 hours in each day that every other human has. And I recognize that less time watching the TV show, Seinfeld, and more time dedicated to fulfilling the pursuits I have already begun to achieve might be a great benefit to me.

But apart from those considerations, I am left with the question: How do you venture to pursue your passion, especially when doing so could put your ability to perform in the functions you have already commited to perform at risk? I refuse to put my family's livelihood at risk. And quite truthfully, I find a great deal of joy in my work at Maxwell Products. It really is quite rewarding to build a business such as ours. But is it selfish of me to want a deeper reward from my work? . . . namely, to want to have a lasting impact on lives --to be a part of what people become --to be part of creating a memory in the hearts and minds of those with whom I associate?

Or perhaps this is simply life I am describing. It could be that we each have a simliar desire, either latent or expressed. Maybe uncle Larry and my lovely Lisa are my audience, and I should be grateful for the part of their lives that I am. . . and the part of my life that they are. I realized earlier this year that I care more about the people I work with than any other aspect of my work. Everything I do really is about a relationship of one kind or another.

But back to my question. . . I feel like if I were to start into a new venture right now, it would be at the expense of something I'm already doing that I care about. But at the same time, I really want to start this new thing. So, what do I do? How do I go about pursuing this passion of teaching and/or being in front of people that I have come to realize without sacrificing the really important things (i.e. my family's livelihood or future)?

Here is the thought I feel to be my answer for now: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. I think now is my season and the time for me to be building the business, the education, the church, and the family that I am presently building. I love my life, I really do. It's an exciting time to be alive, and I feel the world has boundless opportunities for me to pursue. My only curse is that I relish too much the joy of such a wide variety of the many great pusuits God has prepared for man to enjoy. This has always been my lot, I think. I remember in High School making the difficult decision to drop my Drama/Theatre involvements so I could more meaningfully pursue debate, student government, Youth YMCA, Mock Trials, Choir, and being a "straight A student" with a comparatively active social life. Certainly, when the #2 most thrilling moment of my Senior year of High School rolled around, I was grateful for the focus and commitment I had made to the pursuits I chose.

It's my belief that although my present choice is to continue what I have started (without going whole-hog on a new venture), I will ultimately appreciate focussing on that which is most important. At the same time, I will maintain what motivations I can towards pursuing all my passions, utilizing any opportunity that comes my way to lay the groundwork for enjoying all the purposes under the heaven that are meant for me in the time and season they are meant to be mine.

As I said earlier, I do love life. Congratulations on reading this huge long book of a blog (those of you who made it all the way through). Let me know your thoughts on 'How to Pursue Your Passion'. I am not easily offended, (despite the personal nature of my thoughts here), and I'd love to get your food for thought on this topic.