In her short life, my granddaughter Zoe has played soccer, studied Spanish and taken swim and dance lessons. She’s also amassed an impressive library, traveled enthusiastically, hosted parties and is a whiz at doing jigsaw puzzles. When I visit, she and I usually prepare at least one meal together. She approaches cooking with gusto, but it’s not her big passion. For that, she needs a paintbrush.

Long before she was toilet trained, Zoe approached making art with an earnestness and concentration that seemed exceptionally mature. Fortunately, her parents understand how important it is to her. My daughter said she’d noticed that Zoe becomes agitated when she hasn’t painted for a while. “When I pick her up from pre-school and ask her how her day was, she’ll glumly report, ‘We didn’t do art today!’ or she’ll happily tell me, ‘We did art!’ She’s also starting to look at illustrations and ask what they used to make the pictures,” Jennie reports.

Zoe’s not the only one who becomes agitated when not spending time engaged with her passion. In Thomas Moore’s eloquent new book, A Life at Work, he writes, “If you ignore the deeper issues, you may not know the nature of your calling, and if you don’t do work that connects with your deep soul, you may always be dissatisfied, not only in your choice of work but in all other areas of life.”

Happily, more and more of us are waking up to how essential it is to discover and nurture this indescribable thing we call passion. As Steve Jobs said in his famous commence-ment address at Stanford, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know it when you find it. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

Zoe already knows that and I’m going to make certain that nobody tells her otherwise. And if art turns out to be a passing fancy and not a passion, I’ll make sure she knows that it’s okay to change her mind.


If you’re a client of Northwestern Mutual, check out the fall issue of Creative Living magazine for Rosemarie Colmbraro’s cover story, Profits from Passion and see what Barbara Sher and I have to say about making a living doing what you love.