Passion in Reins

Passion is the driving force behind creativity. Without passion, whatever we create will not engage others. When you create with passion, you lose yourself in time and space; you get totally absorbed by the now. We get in flow. It’s like entering a tunnel—as I have written about before in conjunction with creative—everything else is blocked out. It’s all about whatever you are creating and you will often be pushing yourself further than you could have imagined.

However, tunnel vision isn’t all good. Sometimes we need to have awareness around us as well. Passion can drive us blind. We have probably all witness the train wreck when someone blindly followed their passion and it wrecked their career and hurt both family and friends. Thus, as much as we want to follow our passion and let it drive our creativity, we will be will advised to follow Benjamin Franklin’s words: “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins” .

A passionate drive isn’t the same as blind passion. We need to be aware of the distinction. Some of the world’s creative icons, such as Steve Jobs or Pablo Picasso, let their passion take them to unfathomable heights, but it also drove them into recklessness and blindness.

Steve Jobs was a brilliant rule breaker who cared deeply about making his marks. His passion was like high-octane fuel. And his creativity seemingly without limits. However, it wasn’t all glorious. Jobs did break the rules, but often it was at the expense of people who got in the way. Yes, he was creative, but in other ways he wasn’t exactly a saint.

The art of Picasso was a gift to humanity, there is no denying that. Yet Picasso didn’t exactly treat women in the most dignified way. He once said: “For me there are two kinds of women, goddesses and doormats” .

What is my point? Certainly not that we should think that we are better than these icons. We are all human and we have no idea how we would have handled life in their shoes. However, we can learn from their creativity and the passion they brought into their creative endeavour. And we can also learn not to make the same mistakes, being both honest and aware about what our passion and our creativity brings into play.

I have certainly made mistakes in my life for which I am ashamed. Probably you will be in the same boat. We have all fallen short at times. We are humans after all. The critical point is whether we learn from our mistakes.

Passion ignites the best of creativity. However, it doesn’t give us carte blanche to do with it as we want. Let’s keep the words of Benjamin Franklin in mind.

Facts about the photo: The photo was taken a Canon Eos 1D with a 28-135 mm lens the lens set at 28 mm. Shutter speed: 1/320 s. Aperture: f/22. The photo was processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

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60 thoughts on “Passion in Reins

  1. The photo is very strong, as are the words of Benjamin Franklin. For me th eimage works like a powerful reminder to stick to one’s goals. Without passion it’s hard to get there. Thank you for the inspiring text and the Benjamin Franklin quote, unbeknown to me.

  2. Well said. Sometimes it’s hard to contain yourself when you are expressing an idea through art, photography or even preparing food! Thank goodness for passion though or we’d be pretty boring..

  3. I absolutely love this post. Very great writing!
    As a writer, I can relate to the drive of passion for what one loves to do. I completely agree, however, with keeping the reins on that passion. A healthy life is a healthy balance of many things, including the passions that drive us.
    Blessings to you,

  4. This is insightful. We do know these things but simple truths can easily be pushed aside. I believe that intentional living is important…even if we can, do, and will fall short. Having a self-directing understanding of ourselves, our purpose(s), of other people, and the impact we can make is critical to our success…and that not merely withinin the creative realm, but in the realm of being what we as humans are intended to be. Otto, you drove the point home with purpose and yet with gentleness. I think this may be one of your finer articles.The photo adds a nice meditative element, too. Well done!

  5. I have never heard that quote by Benjamin Franklin, but it is very good advice. No wonder I hear people talking about having to ‘reign things in.’ This is what they mean. Thanks, Otto.

      1. It seems the original wording was: “If passion drives, let reason hold the reins.” Somewhere along the way, the “you” got added in requoting the statement. I see that in 1749 Poor Richard’s Almanac included a related adage: “A man in a passion rides a mad horse.”

  6. I have not heard this quote of Benjamin Franklin before. It is a good reminder that you to have fence or balance that you should not cross even the drive is for a great creativity. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Interesting and very true. Interesting also that you should publish this even today as I had a discussion with my blog companion Arletta where she tells me how she tries to inspire her student companions with reason and passion in their present project. So your post today helped me encourage her in what she’s trying to do right now.

  8. Very wise words as ever Otto! Tunnel vision is never a good thing. I have made more mistakes than most. I was a PhD student, studying in Japan and heading for a very promising career and I threw it all away because, growing up in a very homophobic household, I couldn’t accept who I was, a gay man and I ultimately started along the road to self destruction.
    However. out of the ashes, I found I really wasn’t going to be happy as a CEO in the corporate world and finally I found photography. I have been rather driven this last year and it’s not been good. A balance is crucial and Benjamin Franklin’s words are incredibly wise. Feeling one has to prove something because of perceived shortcomings is anathema to creativity for sure.

    1. Something good obviously came out of your tunnel vision while in Japan. But, yes, we do need to keep a balance. It’s crucial as you point out. Thanks for sharing your own example of tunnel vision, Adrian.

  9. A good reminder that I am responsible for what I do with my life and how I respond to what I am handed. Well written, Otto and love the photo which brings to mind balance, strength and discipline..

  10. I’m intrigued by the fact that passion, passivity, and patience all are rooted in the Latin pati: “to endure, undergo, experience.” Without an ability to shape and channel our passions, without a willingness to discipline our creative urges, and without the patience needed when the creative road gets rough, it’s easy to fall into passivity: into a life marked by those “if onlys” that you wrote about earlier.

    This is a fine, thought-provoking entry, and it pairs beautifully with what you wrote about the “if only” syndrome.

  11. This is all so very true, Otto, but what caught my attention most, was one line:
    “Without passion, whatever we create will not engage others. ”
    In this day and age when everything (namely social media) is coming at us faster than we can keep up, I truly believe that if we are not careful, some, and maybe much of this passion is lost to the idea that we “need” to create for others. In other words, whatever our creative outlet might be, I wonder how many times before posting, do we think, “I wonder if others will like this.” I believe that unless we are mindful as to WHY we do what we do, creatively, we can get lost in trying to please others. It is when this happens, that much of that passion we may have once had, becomes more like something we “have” to do in a certain way.

    As always, it is such a pleasure to visit you here.

    Have a fantastic weekend!

    1. I think you make a poignant point. And of course it’s all connected. If we only care about “likes” or what others may appreciate, we do get lost in the fast pace of social medias. And I think we will lose touch with our passion. If we “have” to do something it certainly kills the passion. I notice myself, just in keeping this blog alive, if I start to do something because I have to, I do not any longer really care and I might just as well stop the whole blog.

  12. “And we can also learn not to make the same mistakes, being both honest and aware about what our passion and our creativity brings into play.” That’s a key point, well said, Otto!

  13. I was just talking with someone earlier today how finding the artist within us all, brings us face-to-face with both the best we can offer as well as the worst. Uncovering this, as scary as it may be, it becomes easier to express ourselves. I think replacing the word ‘artist’ with ‘passion’ as you have described it so well in your post, bring to heart a similar message. Pursue with abandon, but keep a hand on the reins just in case 🙂

  14. I’m lost in contemplation of the points you raised. Passion doesn’t give the right to be a jerk, yet innovators are often met with resistance by people who don’t want change. Being passionate, maybe those innovators are more likely to run over people who caution and reason? Life in balance is a worthy pursuit while following dreams, but I think most tip their wagons from time to time or they aren’t listening to their passions?

  15. Certainly, I’ve foolishly had tunnel vision at times with my art. It definitely can be a needlessly complicated and potentially dangerous way to be.

    I’m glad that I have had people in my life to help me remember to periodically pause, and consider the risks of my actions.

  16. Hello Otto,
    What a wonderful exploration of being a creative versus creating havoc. I had not heard about this before and it’s a noteworthy addition to our craft.
    Thank you, very thought provoking to use those famous people to highlight your point 💐✨✨

      1. Oh not at all Otto. I think quite the opposite. You offered a very balanced view that often isn’t afforded them. It was refreshing that you gave both sides 💐

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