Are you a woodpecker or a hummingbird?

Have you found your passion yet?

I haven’t, and it’s super-annoying.

Across many of the podcasts, websites, and books that I enjoy, there is a seemingly constant focus on finding that one thing that captivates your attention, sucks you in, and takes you along for the ride.

Call it your passion, your purpose, or your calling—call it whatever you want—once you find and unleash it, you’ll know exactly what to do with the rest of your life.

Perhaps this sounds ridiculous on the surface, but then so many people—including folks like Steve Jobs—talk about it so, well, passionately that it’s hard to dismiss the idea. And so I got sucked in and spent a long time wondering: What’s my passion? What’s that one lovely, magical idea that makes my soul sing and that I’ll pursue to the end of the earth?

I spent a few years looking. I didn’t find it, and that was dissatisfying. There just doesn’t seem to be one big, all-encompassing thing that I love more than anything else.

The author Elizabeth Gilbert knows her passion—to write—but after years of telling people to follow their passion, she realized that there were people like me that just didn’t get it. And so she came up with a great analogy that describes this divide.

There are people who know their passion, the one thing that really captivates them. These are the people that can focus day in and day out on that one single thing, diving deeper and deeper. There’s one thing they want to do and they love it. These people just hit that one thing over and over. She calls these people jackhammers because of this singular focus, but I’d rather call these people woodpeckers.

Why? Because she also points out that there is another type of person, whom she calls hummingbirds. Rather than keep hammering (or pecking) away at one single thing, these people have a much broader set of interests. They float over the landscape sampling a variety of ideas and cross-pollinating the various things that they find.

(Some people are using the term multipotentialite for this roaming set of interests. But while I agree with the idea, I can’t quite get behind the term. I’d rather be a hummingbird.)

Now, instead of telling people to find their passion, she tells them to follow their curiosity. I like that idea a lot better! I can’t embed the video, but you really should check it out here.

Via Oprah

What about you? Are you a woodpecker or a hummingbird?

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4 thoughts on “Are you a woodpecker or a hummingbird?

  1. I think I am a little bit of both. I thought I was a woodpecker after finding my passion in photography, but after reading your post I think I lean a bit more toward a hummingbird. Although photography is truly my passion, I have many other passions as well. Now that I have followed my curiosity I enjoy discovering new passions. Great post!

    1. Thanks! I am sure it’s possible to be a bit of both. I think it’s great that you enjoy photography so much! I don’t think there’s one thing that I’m as into as you are into photography. Plus, you take such great photos!

  2. I have too many interests so in that regard I am similar to a hummingbird. I zip around sampling all the flowers but when i find one that I find tasty or challenging then I hammer away at it until I have extracted every thing I can. I have been retired for a number of years now and I am as busy as ever. Time sorts out my interests. I always have a camera with me so that interest is never going away. I love history and genealogy but that has highs and lows depending if I am into a new book or checking out a new source on a family member. I refuse to be tightly programmed. I know I must keep my mind active the older I get. I am an avid birder so I appreciate that view but perhaps a better label would be “a sponge” as I have a tendency to suck up anything interesting that crosses my path. Take a deep breath, settle back, and enjoy each day. Start a journal and if you have nothing to write about then you must be living a rather boring life.!

    1. Wonderful! Yes, you sound like quite the roaming and industrious hummingbird! I love your comment about keeping a journal– I think that’s why I continue blogging even though relatively few people read what I write (I appreciate that you’re one of them!). It’s a great way to track the different ideas that I chase. Enjoy your interests!

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