If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak.

~ Umair Haque on hbr.com

Passion matters.

It is the differentiator and the difference maker.

In our quest to be passion driven learners and leaders,we are often advised to “follow our hearts” as the way lead us to our true passion and purpose in life.

What they fail to answer, is how exactly do we find that passion?

I am going to suggest something that on the surface seems counterintuitive; even silly.

I am going to suggest that you DO NOT follow your heart to find your passion and purpose.

Instead follow your heartbreak.

Although following your heart (feelings) can be useful while information-gathering, following your heart in decision-making does disservice.  .

Finding your passion; surrendering to your heartbreak is really about finding what really moves you. Discovering what ticks you off and breaks your heart may be the first step in that direction.

Here’s why:

  1. It identifies what you find interesting. When something truly breaks your heart, there is no doubt that you find it compelling enough to on to.

  2. It uncovers a cause you long to be called for; what some call your “life’s purpose.”

  3. It unveils a process that you can and will want to use to learn skills you need to succeed and bring you closer to getting there.

  4. It brings congruency bringing what’s inside you to what’s outside you in closer alignment, When you believe that world out there needs what you’ve got; it becomes the exact motivation you need to propel forward and make change happen.

And in my experience, following a heartbreak whether it is your own or the world’s is the single most effective way to help individuals, organizations and the world discover what they were meant and called to do.

So here we go.

Ask yourself this question: What Matters to You?

An important aspect of choosing to matter is discovering what you are most passionate about; what you are willing to commit to.

If we our going to change the world and ask others to do the same. then we need to find and articulate at least one thing that we are seriously, fiercely passionate about.

The process of Heart Mapping can be done individually or as a group. Use the following template to get your started as you explore the questions below.

  • What makes you happy?
  • What do you love?
  • What is the most fun you have ever had?
  • What memory is your favorite?
  • What things or objects are important to you?
  • What things in your heart are sad?  Make you cry?
  • What secrets are in your heart?
  • What are your favorite things, toys?
  • What activities do you love?

Examples of Heart Maps done with students:  Aaron Maurer’s students at Bettendorf, IA MS

2. What Breaks Your Heart About That?

This single question can cause some to  to lie awake at night, wondering what happened to our lives and to our world and for others it can light a fire so bright it propels them to a greatness they never dreamed possible.

Give it a try. Here are instructions created by Karen MacMillan, a remarkable middle school teacher.

  • In the center of your heart map, write and/or draw the things that you are passionate about.
  • In the next level or circle, write and/or draw what breaks your heart about these things.
  • In the final level or circle, write and/or draw your ideas for the ways to resolve these heartbreaks.

Here’s what her students created.

3. Turning HeartBreaks into BreakThrough

The process of uncovering pain points or what we call “mini heartbreaks” is what drives breakthrough innovation.

Instead of jumping into something that we cannot do because it is too big, we tackle mini heartbreaks and search for solutions which uncover the fundamental drivers of new opportunities.

Questions to Consider

  • Person – who’s the specific person or people you’re innovating for?

  • Activities – what are the everyday things they do, why, and to what ends?

  • Insights – what are the processes, tools, or activities that they unnecessarily do or have invented themselves to “work around” the way things are “supposed” to be done?

  • Needs – what are the biggest pain points that are the root causes of the problems, unmet needs, or desires? What are the workarounds, things that cause stress or concern, dissatisfaction, or anything else that’s responsible for their “pain”?

Here’s the process in action (Video)

The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to love, to transform, and to be greater than our suffering.

Map Your Heartbreak and find out how strong you truly are.