Day One Reads – The Passion Paradox

As I prepped this week’s edition of Day One Reads, I realized would be necessary to categorize the books I feature moving forward. I loved last week’s book, and yet I found myself pulling significantly more passages from this week’s book despite the fact I didn’t feel it was a far superior book (I felt they were both excellent). I realized it was because I tend to pull a passage when it makes me say either “Wow that’s an amazing insight” OR “Wow, I didn’t know that!” That means that books that are significantly heavier on sharing research on a topic from a wide variety of sources are going to have quite a few more “I didn’t know that” moments than books that tell stories or offer insights from a single author. As such, moving forward I’ll be classifying each book into one of four categories:

Reflective: Relies on first-person stories or insights such as last week’s book by “Humble the Poet”

Biographical: Tells the story of an individual or organization from a third-person perspective

Research-based: The author(s) collect third-party research to support their discussion of a particular topic.

I feel this will make it easier to compare apples-to-apples moving forward. Which brings me to:

The Passion Paradox: A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of An Unbalanced Life

Category*: Research-based

Authors: Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness

About the authors: Brad Stulberg writes, coaches, and speaks on health and human performance. He is a columnist at Outside and has written for the New York Times and New York magazine, among others. Previously he worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company.

Steve Magness coaches some of the world’s top distance runners and has propelled numerous athletes to Olympic trials, world championship teams, and the Olympics. He has been a featured expert in Runner’s World and the New York Times, among others. Magness lives in Houston, Texas.

How I found it: Brad Stulberg and I are the two keynotes at an upcoming conference and are reading each others’ books to most effectively blend our messages for the audience.

Book Jacket Description: Common advice is to find and follow your passion. A life of passion is a double-edged sword—one that can fill your life with meaning but, if not pointed in the right direction, might just destroy you in the process.

Performance experts Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness, coauthors of the bestselling Peak Performance, have teamed up once again, this time to demystify passion and show how to tend its fire without burning yourself out. Swift, compact, and powerful, this thought-provoking book combines captivating stories of extraordinarily passionate individuals with the latest science on the biological and psychological factors that give rise to passion.

Rarely is passion something that you simply stumble upon, so Stulberg and Magness start by showing you how to discover and cultivate your passion, whatever it might be. But the same drive that fuels breakthroughs—whether they’re athletic, scientific, entrepreneurial, or artistic—can become every bit as destructive as it is productive. If you’re not careful, passion can become an awful curse, leading to endless seeking, suffering, and burnout. The authors make the provocative argument that passion is incompatible with balance; if you truly follow your passion, your life is going to change. And that’s not always a bad thing, as long as you know how to manage it. With this essential guide to uncovering your true potential, you’ll learn how to harness the kind of passion that can lead you to great heights and, equally important, how to control it so it doesn’t control you.

You’ll learn how to harness the kind of passion that can lead you to great heights.

Ultimately, Stulberg and Magness offer a groundbreaking plan for developing the right kind of passion and going all in without ruining your life. Passion can be a wonderful gift—as long as you handle it with care. The Passion Paradox shows you how.

How well I feel it delivered on what the jacket promised (scale out of 10 with 10 being completely delivered): 9

Amazon Rating: 4.7 (68 ratings – Canada)/4.7 (102 ratings – US)

Goodreads Rating: 4.05 (626 ratings)

Who I think should pick it up: Those who have always felt that people’s insistence that they “find more balance in your life” is misguided. People who are concerned their passion is taking over their life. Those open to thinking differently about what “balance” really means.

Who might want to leave it on the shelf: Anyone who finds the mere suggestion that there is a valid reason to prioritize work over everything else completely unacceptable.

“Velcro quotes” (ideas that are going to stick with me moving forward):

• “Much like the mindset of perfect love at first sight often leaves people without love, the mindset of perfect passion at first encounter often leaves people without passion. A better approach to finding your passion is to lower the bar from perfect to interesting, then give yourself permission to pursue your interests with an open mind.”

• “The problem isn’t that you sacrifice a lot for passion, but that’s it’s all too easy to let the inertia of a passionate experience carry you forward without every really evaluating what you’re sacrificing.”

• “When the time comes to move on from a passion, it is imperative that you take control of your story. You must tell yourself a story about yourself that goes beyond seeing your passion as the sole source of your fulfillment and identity. It’s not that you should forget about your passion completely; in fact, quite the opposite. You should recognize and accept how your passion changed you and then constructively integrate those insights into a forever unfolding story, a story that has future chapters.”

How likely I think I am to make a positive reference to this book in the next 30 days: 100%. I read it on a plane and upon landing immediately emailed Brad to tell him how powerful an impact it had made.

How likely I’ll put something I learned in this book to use in the next 30 days: 100%

Total Pages: 164

Total “pulled passages”: 86

Page to Pulled Passage Ratio**: 1.9:1

P2P Ranking within category for 2020: #1 of 1

Overall P2P Ranking for 2020: #1 of 2.

*I break books into one of three categories in order to better compare apples-to-apples.

  • Reflective: Relies on first-person stories or insights
  • Biographical: Tells the story of an individual or organization from a third-person perspective
  • Research-based: The author(s) collect third-party research to support their discussion of a particular topic.

**As I read, I highlight certain passages/insights that really connect with me. Things that make me think “buying this book was worth it for ideas/information like that.” At the end of the book, I go back and “pull” them from the book and copy them all into a single document. P2P Ratio indicates how many pages on average tend to go by between these particularly powerful insights. This book’s 1.9:1 ratio means I felt there was a passage worth pulling out and writing down every 1.9 pages.