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The Passion PlanReview - The Passion Plan
A Step-By-Step Guide to Discovering, Developing, and Living Your Passion
by Richard Y. Chang
Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999
Review by Zoe Calder
Dec 23rd 1999 (Volume 3, Issue 51)

Richard Chang has a pretty impressive list of clients: Toshiba, Marriott, Citibank, McDonald's. These are only a few of the corporations that have used his management expertise. Judging from their commercials on television, passion, as a higher form of enthusiasm, was his reigning lesson. Chang has written more than 20 books on business and personal development. This latest is a mainly left-brain compilation of ideas, suggestions and rules for developing one's passion in life. Although Chang has been a therapist, and therefore thoroughly conversant with the emotional pitfalls of life, be advised that the steps Chang lays down for the reader to follow are logical and reasonable. This is fine for those who are uncomfortable with delving into their feelings or in listening to their intuition. For those who need a right brain approach, you are out of luck.

On its own terms this book is, by and large, extremely comprehensive and vastly helpful to anyone interested in discovering what their passion is and developing it. The only problem I have with the plans in this book is that it fails to take into consideration unexpected, unconscious self-sabotage. You know: it's like being given a manual on how to stop smoking. You read about the dangers, you read about the reasons and benefits for stopping, and then you follow the steps. There's never anything said about what happens to you when that emotional hand grabs you by the throat and shakes vigorously. You feel empty, needy, vulnerable, even scared and, damn it, you want that cigarette! All you have for comfort is a book that says, "Step One . . ." The next thing you know, you have created a crisis which "allows" you to buy another pack while telling yourself, "When this crisis is over, then I'll stop. But too much is going on right now for me to take on additional stress." Yeah, we know. But if you are a relatively "normal" person who is looking around your life and thinking you'd like to put more passion and enthusiasm into it, this is your book. Especially in the area of job or career.

First, Chang shows you how to identify your "Profit." Translated: what you really want in life. Then he goes on to explain how to find your passion and use it wisely. In a pseudo-spiritual tone he invents a word and subtitles Chapter 1, "The Way of the Passioneer." Essentially, that means "Follow Your Heart." But Chang, who apparently had Shakespeare force-fed to him in school, never digs beneath the level of simple intellect. He gets caught up in "Romeo and Juliet," who followed their passion -- and look what happened to them! He writes, "Fortunately, for most of us, following our heart today does not entail great danger or complete rejection of our present lives." I beg to differ. The millions of people who live unhappy, lonely and unfulfilled lives give this the lie.

Chang does pay lip service to the unconscious. He points out that deterrents to passion are "fear, self-doubt, paralysis, numbness, limited scope, procrastination and caution." He devotes a paragraph to each of these. I felt some of his ideas regarding how to maximize the flow of passion in your life, while accurate, were, at best, difficult. He suggests you "live in a place that inspires you." Great idea; not always possible. That is, without almost completely rejecting your present life. Same is true for "spend time with people who feed your passion." Well, goodbye mother-in-law! Sayonara, sister! Ho-ho, hubby and ta-ta, boss!

To be fair, the book is excellently organized, sprinkled with interesting quotes from eclectic sources, contains many case histories, and has much to say to people who are sincere about changing their lives for the better. There are graphs, charts and worksheets, too. In short, if you really are in the mood to discover, rediscover or increase your passion, this is the book for you. You get an entire program here, and at the very least, you will run across a saying or idea that just might give you the insight you've been looking for. You can find out more about passion at Chang's website, http://www.thepassionplan.com.
 

Zoe Calder is an adjunct professor at several colleges in Maine.  She has degrees in English, Speech, Psychology and Education.  In addition, she is a professional writer, editor and book reviewer with consuming interests in anthropology, nature, philosophy, religion, space, physics, history and humor.  This last makes the aforementioned more meaningful.

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