Drive vs. Passion

Contemporary corporate culture often seems to favour people who show exceptional drive in their careers.1 How does one distinguish between drive and passion?

Randy Komisar, a practicing Zen Buddhist and author of The Monk and the Riddle, explains the difference between passion and drive in simple terms. According to Komisar, passion pulls you forward and creates energy, whereas drive consumes energy by requiring you to push yourself forward.

Given the above distinction, one would certainly seem to prefer a passionate life to a life that is driven. Passionate people are fully engaged in their pursuits. They relish whatever they do, so that although they work hard, they are seldom exhausted. Yet many people choose to be drive themselves hard, to grind their gears until they push themselves (and often others) over the cliff of burn out.

Unlike drive, which implies a one-track mind, it is possible for one to balance multiple passions. Thinking of my life over the next decade and beyond, I would like to be in a position to balance commitments to family, work, hobbies, and service to my community.

Passion particularly matters at work, considering that people spend one-half to three-fourths (and sometimes more) of their waking hours working. I am incredibly fortunate at present to be doing work that I find fulfilling and challenging, work that allows me to learn and grow professionally each day.

During most weeks I manage to balance work and personal life; weekends allow me time to write, watch a film, explore the city, or hit the hiking trails. Nonetheless, questioning my lifestyle and asking myself whether I am finding meaning and engaging my passions serves as an insightful daily meditation.


  1. The word career is derived from the French word for racecourse. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocatio for call.

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