zen habits: Surround Yourself with Passionate People


Surround Yourself with Passionate PeoplePosted: 21 Mar 2011 10:09 AM PDT

Post written by Leo Babauta.

Last night I had an amazing dinner with my wife Eva and my friends Scott and Jesse and their wives Chelsea and Joanna.

The gathering itself was simple: six people, simple healthy food, a little wine, a little tea, nothing else. Except that we lost ourselves in conversation so deeply that before we knew it, it was 1:30 a.m. and I was shocked at how quickly the time had passed.

The secret is also simple: when you talk with people who are passionate about what they’re doing, passionate about life and the people they love, it is transformative.

The people I talked with last night are incredibly passionate about what they’re doing. And yes, Brett, I mean passionate: excited, fired-up, feeling-strongly-about, thinking-about-it-all-the-time, can’t-wait-to-do-it-when-you-wake-up passion. When you talk with people who are passionate like that, you can’t help but get fired up yourself. You want to go out and do something exciting.

Passionate people not only inspire you, they give you ideas. They read books by other people who are passionate and full of ideas, and they recommend the books to you or pass the ideas on to you. Scott and Jesse, for example, are constantly meeting other passionate people, and that inspires them … and in turn that inspires me. It’s fuel for an intense fire.

A nice side benefit is Scott & Chelsea and Jesse & Joanna are some of the most health-conscious people I know — the dinner was extremely healthy and delicious, and I went away even more inspired to get fit and live a healthy life. I love people like that.

I’ve met a lot of passionate, smart, inspired people since moving to San Francisco — people like Tim Ferriss and Matt Mullenweg and Tynan and Corbett Barr and Oleg and Barron and more. It’s incredible to talk with people like that, and you can’t walk away from them without getting a bit revved up.

While I try to lead a life of minimalism, I’ve learned that minimalism can be done anywhere you go … and it doesn’t require that you move to a farm or give up your contact with people. Just the opposite: minimalism is about giving up consumption in favor of doing things you’re passionate about and having real relationships with a few people you really value. I’d much rather have a conversation with someone doing something amazing than go shopping.

You don’t have to live in a big city like New York or San Francisco to surround yourself with passionate people. They’re in small towns, but it might take a bit of looking to find them. Find small businesses who are doing amazing things, and talk with the people there. Look for startups, for artists and writers, for people who are obsessed with doing something really well.

If you can’t find them where you live, find them online. They’re everywhere if you look. Read books by people full of powerful ideas who are doing innovative things. Read their blogs, talk to them via email and Twitter. Start collaborating with people like that.

Be one of them, and inspire others.

A few years ago I was going through a sales slump or something and was depressed. Instead of talking to someone or getting medicated I just signed up for a bunch of newsletters that dealt with stress, zen and other bullshit that would keep me from snapping and pulling a  Falling Down-esque performance through Southie. I hardly ever open them anymore but last night as I was cleaning up my inbox I saw this puppy and decided to read it. 

I’ve been thinking of ways to blow this site up the past few weeks and I think this email hit the nail on the head; I’m just not surrounding myself with passionate people. Seriously, let’s take a look at the dream team I’ve put together:

Winky – I guess Winky is passionate…passionate about writing absolutely atrocious blog posts. Sometimes I like to just read his posts and imagine him writing it. Does he read through it again? Does he know we installed a spell checker in wordpress? Does he die laughing while writing it? Does he lean back in his chair with a big grin thinking, “the readers are going to love this!” Say what you want about Wink but he is out there getting dirty. He is spreading the Howzyafatha.com name everywhere and because of him we found Pabs.

ELEW – I like Elew’s style and tenacity. He’ll come out blazing with like 3 posts but the problem is he goes missing for days. I never know where he is or if he’ll ever be back. I like to wonder what he does. He says he is self-employed. Maybe he is like a secret agent just flying to Taiwan on Monday and blogging for thefatha on Tuesday. Maybe he lives in a mental home and escapes every few days to release his thoughts on the web. Definitely got the drive though.

Weibe – No passion but I keep holding out. He is a funny dude and could definitely provide upside to the site but he is always busy and apparently has a job. Oh, really? I do too. In contrary to public belief I do just about all my work on this site before and after my other job. I’m working 18 hours days over here. Not sleeping at all however Weibe is getting a nice full 8 hours and probably having a 5 star breakfast before he heads to work and sits on his and ironically reads my site.

IT Guy – This motherfucker is heartless and passionless. If I don’t nudge him he won’t do shit. He thinks he is just going to ride the Bobo train until we hit the jackpot. I would say I do 99.5% of the work on this site. IT Guy’s are dime a dozen. I can scoop up an Indian in no time.

Diggy -The newest member to the team and certainly shows passion. In fact, I am already worried she is showing too much passion. Too many ideas. Too many suggestions. I have to keep my eye on her. She is already interacting with the commenters and getting dirty. The next thing you know there is howzyamotha.com popping up and I’m begging El Fag for a job.

So, there you have it. My zen master is telling me to surround myself with passionate people but unfortunately, this is the best I can do. This is my 300 Army. I’m fucked.