A vegan walks into a grocery store. After spending a few minutes browsing various items, the vegan walks past the food section containing bacon. “Gross” says the vegan. “Why would anyone eat this garbage?” The vegan then proceeds to question the other people in the store: “Do you eat this nonsense?” “Do you know what this kind of food does to your body?” Then the vegan gets even more irate and demands to see a manager. Once the manager shows up, the vegan insists that the manager remove bacon from the store to prevent others from buying it. An hour later, after failing to persuade the manager to rid the store of bacon, the vegan walks out of the store huffing and puffing with anger.
What a passionate person, right? What a noble-soul, right? What a fighter, right? Here’s a person who won’t back down from anyone. How great, right? Here’s a person who keeps it real and speaks their mind when they’re not satisfied with something. That sure is fantastic, right?
Question: What was the purpose of their trip to the grocery store?
If the purpose of their trip was to get bacon removed from the store, was there any good reason for believing this was an effective way to do it? If the purpose of their trip was to buy the groceries they needed, have they not wasted their time?
In the Book of Proverbs, there’s a verse that says “Zeal without knowledge is not good, and the one who acts hastily misses the mark.”
Being passionate about what you believe is a necessary condition for making a difference in the world, but it’s not sufficient. If you’re passionate without discernment and discretion, you’re more likely than anyone else to waste your time, squander your energy, and burn yourself out on things that have nothing to do with the bigger picture. Being fired up isn’t a substitute for being focused.
Life is like a trip to the grocery store. You’re here for a purpose. Anything that distracts from that purpose, even if it makes you look like a saint or a martyr, is a waste of time and a disservice to yourself. Focus on what you want. Zoom in on what you need. Rigorously concentrate on your priorities. Get in, get what you came for, and get out.
You only have so much time in this life. You only have so much energy in a day. You only have so many resources to work with at any given moment in time. Be a little picky with how you allot your resources. Attention is like money. Don’t waste it. Spend it on what you truly value and invest it in what really matters.