Find Your Passion in Three Steps

This is a guest post by Mary DeMuth. She is an author, speaker and book mentor. She has published ten books, including her most recent, 150 Quick Questions to Get Your Kids Talking. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

As a book mentor, I’ve read plenty of passionless prose. And as a fellow pilgrim, I’ve listened to many people who shyly look away when I ask them what their passion is. Why is that? I have a hunch that many of us have a hard time identifying our passion. Why? Several reasons:

A Man Rock Climbing a Huge Boulder - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #15344162

Photo courtesy of ©
  • Our insecurities define us more than our hidden, suppressed dreams.
  • We are afraid to boast.
  • We see the vastness of the world and feel insignificant or overwhelmed to make a difference.
  • We feel it’s selfish to become introspective.
  • We’re extremely busy maintaining an overbooked life and don’t have time to reconsider why we’re working ourselves to death.
  • We think it’s wrong to do what we love.
  • We feel the sting of rejection the last time we tried operating in our passion, and we’ve let that rejection scare us.
  • We are afraid if we identify it, we’ll have to do something, to act on it (and that means risking failure).

Which excuses resonate with you? Why?

I don’t write this to impugn, though. I write this to entice and instruct. You can find your passion. In fact, you will find it. Here are three simple steps.

  1. Where does need and joy collide? Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote this: “Vocation is where our greatest passion meets the world’s greatest need.” I would add to that: our ministry is the intersection of our passion and the world’s greatest need. One way to determine your passion, though, is discovering what you believe to be the world’s greatest need. The passion flows from that.

    For instance, I believe the world’s greatest need is to heal from the past to live freely today. My passion is to write in such a way that I can help people live free.

    So, what is the world’s greatest need, according to you? What you hope to do about that gets at your passion.

  2. Do the three-movie exercise. One of the favorite things I do with groups is to do this exercise I learned about on a writer’s loop. Without thinking too much, list your three favorite movies. Here are three of mine:
    • Star Wars
    • Lord of the Rings
    • To Kill a Mockingbird

    Now, examine those three movies and determine the common thread that runs through each.

    Mine? Outcasts who overcome their past to absolutely change the world.

    This statement closely resembles (if not mimics) your passion in this life. Try it. You’ll be stunned at how closely the thread hints at your passion. I’d love for you to share your three movies and the common thread in the comments below.

  3. Ask others about “one thing.” When I struggled to find my passion, I knew I was too close to myself to identify it. So I emailed several of my friends and posted on my Facebook wall this question: “What is my one thing?”

    Though I received tons of responses (thankfully), I was surprised at how very similar the responses were. I know this might seem awkward or self-serving, but I found that people were much more open to my request than I initially believed they would be. And they were entirely insightful. Take a risk and ask. What can it hurt?

    Your “one thing” answers will strongly indicate your passion.

A final thought: Once you’ve identified your passion, you can begin to reorient your life around it. You can make difficult decisions in order to do the thing God has uniquely created you to do. Just think of how the Kingdom of God would explode if we dared to live from our passion!

Question: Based on the above, how would you define your passion? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Jon Clayton

    Micheal, I sincerely appreciate the type and style of posts you are publishing in the past few months. It has been of considerable assistance in my life. Thanks!

    • Mary DeMuth

      I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed this post, Jon.

  • Jon Stolpe

    This is another great post. I’m going to give it a try on facebook. It should be an interesting study. And as far as my favorite three movies: Field of Dreams, The Bucket List, Shawshank Redemption (with Click being somewhere near the top as well).

    • Anonymous

      Wow, the common thread seems to be giving yourself permission to dream big. How have you done that? How have you helped others do that?

      • Jon Stolpe

        That’s a good question Mary. In many respects, I allow my personality and my circumstances to be a wet blanket when it comes to some of my dreams. I will definitely be thinking of your comments in the days ahead. Thank you!

  • Mtchl10

    Forrest Gump and Shawshank Redemption are definite favorites, choosing the third was more difficult, but for the exercise, I went with As Good As It Gets (though other, more light-hearted comedies came to mind).
    As for the common thread… hmmm…?

    • Anonymous

      All involve folks on the fringe having inherent worth. Is that your story? How are you helping folks on the fringe? And what do you help them do?

  • eileen

    Great post. Gosh, it’s hard to narrow my favorites to three…but my absolute favorite is Shawshank Redemption, then Sound of Music, then I am going to pick Gattaca (because one scene about perseverance has stuck with me for years). I think the common theme is freedom and overcoming the odds and never giving up hope.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Eileen, that seems like an odd combination of movies. However, I can see freedom going through all of those.

      • eileen

        yes, and that is definitely one of my passions in life to encourage others to find that freedom :)

        • Joe Lalonde

          Sounds like a great passion! Reading your response to Mary, it looks like you’re starting to pursue it. I hope and pray that your pursuit is fruitful!

        • SoloBizCoach


          I am passionate about freedom too. That is my primary reason for pursuing entrepreneurship and for helping others to build life changing businesses.

    • Anonymous

      How do you help others never give up hope?

      • eileen

        Recently I discovered that one of my passions was to share how God has been faithful to me in the past. I blog about this hope on a daily basis in hopes that it will encourage others to cling to the hope we can find in Him. I also lead womens bible study at church and will talk about this hope we have in Him any and every chance I get!

        • Mary DeMuth

          That’s so encouraging!

  • Kleslie

    Movies: Miracle, A Man For All Seasons, Dodgeball. A weird mix, I know. Common thread? Overcoming adversity to win and stand for what is right. Helpful post.

    • Anonymous

      And is that your story? And how do you help others overcome adversity?

      • Kleslie

        Yes, generally, that is my story, with some significant dips in trusting God and falling off the horse, so to speak. How I help others overcome adversity…hmmm….I guess through ministry, most especially working with people in troubled or failed marriages.

        This is a great tool that the pastoral staff at my church participated in today. It reveals a lot about people.

  • Paul B Evans

    Thanks Mary! I often ask friends, “What’s something you would call me to do before anyone else that I do…

    1. Fast

    2. Easy

    3. Great

    Almost every time it’s something I love to do and is a strength.

    Success is NOT an Accident!

    • Anonymous

      But what do those words mean? And how can you leverage your speed to help others? I believe a passion connects you to the needs of the world. How does yours do that? What do you help others achieve?

      • Paul B Evans

        In my case, and it varies per individual, I’m called on when people need help with the loss of a spouse at a young age, or a company needs leadership training, or a local business needs a leverage SEO based site in less than 24 hours, or when someone is needed to access the infrastructure of a orphanage in the 3rd world country, or a CEO wants to communicate with clarity and confidence.

        For me, passion isn’t one thing or action specifically. I guess it’s bringing life (Jn 10:10) to people in any form I can deliver it.

        • Mary DeMuth

          “For me, passion isn’t one thing or action specifically. I guess it’s bringing life (Jn 10:10) to people in any form I can deliver it.”

          Yes, yes, yes. So well said.

          • Katklewis

            That is such a true statement. That should be all of our goal, aka “passion” to bring life and life more abundantly, just as Jesus did and does in any way that we can.

  • Josh Bagley

    Good Stuff, Mary… Thanks for sharing.

  • John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. I did a post about my top three movies a while back. This is such a great exercise and it really helps you see your passion. For me my top three movies are
    1. Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo
    2. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window
    3. Forrest Gump

    For my three movies, the integrating themes are mystery, interesting people, facing fear head on, and the ability for ordinary people to do incredible things. It really ties in to a passion to find out what drives people to overcome obstacles and find success. It sounds like our movies have a similar theme.

    In my post I put together a quick download that you can use to distill your passion from your movie list. Your readers can download it here.

    Thanks for a thought provoking article. I will take your advice and ask others what my one thing is. It’s always so hard to look at ourselves in an objective manner. This should be an interesting exercise.

    • Steven Cribbs

      Hey John! Thanks for sharing your movie passion tool – and, within your post, the link to one of Mary’s other guest posts hear on Michael’s site (which was also inspirational for today).

      • John Richardson

        Thanks Steven. Asking co-workers and friends what their top three movies are is a lot of fun. It’s really interesting to see what the underlying theme of the three titles is. The Sound of Music, Shawshank Redemption, and the Wizard of Oz are all movies that came up multiple times where I work.

        • Steven Cribbs

          I bet it is also interesting to see the differences in movies selections between men and women. I work in a small software company made up of all guys – and, I doubt that they would list Sound of Music and the Wizard of Oz. On the other hand, Science Fiction, Adventure, and Special Effects movies would get a lot of attention :)

  • Klmead

    My three movies are Notting Hill, Shining Through and Schindler’s List. At first I could see nothing similar, so I simply wrote a word or two summation of each film.

    Notting Hill – Love can overcome
    Shining Through – fight for the oppressed
    Schindler’s list – save people from oppression.

    You were right! It is my passion – I already run a small international ministry that works in Russia (and maybe soon other countries as well) to help the orphans find hope in Christ, and to help them make their lives a little better.

  • Heather

    Mary, I found this timely and insightful. Seems like I’m only getting acquainted with my passion late in life. I could only do the first two exercises–can’t bring myself to do the facebook one–but they hit the nail on the head. I, too, felt my greatest passion was for inner healing and for people to know God loves them, really loves them. And my movies all lined up with that: What About Bob? Fun With Dick and Jane, and Walking Across Egypt. (They really do, but there isn’t enough space here to explain.)

    And, this past season of my life, I am more passionate than I’ve ever been about writing things that will reach inside and yank people out of themselves, into that love.

    Thanks. :)

  • Midge Edmond

    I love your posts and always glean some great wisdom from them!! But this one is now high up on the top of the list! It will be hard to surpass this one for me. I have been in the process of trying to identify my passion and you just gave me the tools to distill all the noise!

    Thanks so much.

  • Chris Friedmann

    Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Bicentennial Man. Fighting against those in this world that steal your freedom by beating you down, abusing you, blackmailing your life with their toxic leadership; persevering against them until the freedom to be the real you is accomplished. As in my favorite movies, it can be achieved in real life!

    • Anonymous

      Is that your story, Chris? How are you helping others live a better story?

  • Lizzie

    My three favorite movies? Jane Eyre, Dan in Real Life, and … well, so far both those movies spotlight seemingly normal people who find love all because of their incredible strength in character.

    • Anonymous

      Lizzie, how are you like that?

  • Yvonne

    My 3 favorite movies are 1) Les Miserables, 2) Powder, 3) Ann of Green Gable – series and I have to add a 4th – Forest Gump. Good exercise. Thanks

    • eileen

      oh!! Les Mis, how could I have forgotten that one! Love that one too :)

    • Anonymous

      The common thread may be: those who don’t have power grow beyond their need for it and instead serve in their unique giftings and change the world anyway.

  • Elainesross

    My passion is to give encouragement and hope to those who are in need of it. Who isn’t , by the way ?I also love meeting new people.

    • Anonymous

      Elaine, that’s a blessing. We need you in this world.

  • Kelly Combs

    Great post by Mary. I enjoyed it, and am trying to find a common thread between “My Dog Skip” and “Bridges of Madison County.”

    Thanks for the guest post!

    • Anonymous

      That’s an interesting one. I wonder if you have a capability of finding folks who feel left out or on the fringes.

  • Leah Adams

    My passion is communicating. For many years, I spoke and taught in the secular/medical world and adored it. At this point in my life my passion is communicating through the spoken word the love and grace of Jesus. He truly is my best friend. I have been the recipient of a ridiculous and lavish amount of grace and I want others to know it and experience it. I’ve always loved public speaking and the speaking ministry that God clearly called me to in late 2007 allows me to do Kingdom work in a manner that thrills and excites me.

    Because it is my passion, however, I have to be vigilant not to operate in my own strength. My passion only has power when it is done in the strength and anointing of the Holy Spirit.

    Great post, Mary. Thanks, Mr. Hyatt, for offering us this thought provoking post.

    • Anonymous

      Communication is the means to accomplish a passion, but it’s not necessarily a passion. What you communicate is. Sounds like your passion is the outrageous grace of God and helping others understand it more fully.

  • Lincoln Parks

    I always struggle with my passion in everything that I do. However, I know it surrounds helping others succeed. With that being said, here are my favorite three movies.

    From Dusk till dawn
    Remember the titans

    I think the common thread is the underdog overcoming obstacles.

    • Anonymous

      This makes good sense. You were the underdog overcoming, and now your passion is helping other underdogs exceed their circumstances.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Mary, your posts always seem to get me thinking. You asked what our three favorite movies are… I’d have to say

    1. Die Hard 1 or 2; I think I lean more towards part 2
    2. Rocky
    3. Rambo

    In looking at these, I can see at least one common thread. A down and out of luck guy has to rise to the occasion and succeed. Can you see any other themes in these three movies?

    As for how would I define my passion… I’m not sure. I’ve struggled with that so often lately and it’s frustrating. I want to have a passion and I think I’m moving forward in finding it. I’m trying to do things that are out of my comfort zone. This Saturday I’m going skydiving, a couple of months ago my wife and I tried to put together a goal/plan for the next year, I’ve become more healthy by exercising and watching what I eat(thanks again Michael for showing me It’s helped me lose 21.5 lbs so far!)… I’m not sure where these activities are leading, but I’m hoping it’s the start of finding my passion.

    • Anonymous

      What does success look like to you? Where have you been passive? If nothing were in your way, what would you joyfully pursue?

      Congrats on the weight loss!

      • Joe Lalonde

        Mary, that’s where I struggle. I don’t know what success looks like. Growing up I tried to keep my emotions and passion and goals in check, feeling if I never really felt anything I would never really get hurt or fail.

        As for what would I pursue. I’d have to say “relationships”… I used to go to a lot of concerts and one of the things my wife always brings up is how many “relationships” I had with band members. I feel they were pretty shallow and were just in passing. However, she says that these random people(band members and old friends) just come up and start talking to me.

        Another thing that seems to be coming up is the outdoors. The outdoors started with finding out about geocaching. And I’ve lately wanted to try a lot more outdoor activities(rock climbing, mountain biking, etc…).

        • eileen

          Joe, I can totally relate to the first part of your response to Mary. I spent my childhood and early adult life living in fear of failure. I’ve learned that one of the ways (as you seem to be discovering) we find those things we are most passionate about is to step out of our comfort zone and be willing to fail. I have discovered that I love to write, I love to run (just finished a 1/2 marathon) and I love to inspire others. This is hard to believe because I used to fear putting words on paper, I used to hate running and I was so shy growing up that I had a hard time talking in groups. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we decide to put our Hope in Him instead of focusing on our fears. Hope you discover your passions!!

          • Joe Lalonde

            Eileen, thanks for sharing your story in relation to my response. It gives me hope that I can still develop this area of my life and take control of it. It doesn’t come easily to me as I kind of grew up in a home full of fear. Fear of getting hurt(not abuse, but of getting hurt trying something like skydiving), of failure, of disappointment, of people watching me…

            It’s pretty odd because I know that I need to step out of my comfort zone and I do once in awhile. It’s something I challenge others to do. I’m able to ask others hard questions or encourage difficult choices, but I struggle asking myself them.

            It is encouraging hearing from you and our background. It sounds like we come from a somewhat similar background in terms of our personality traits. Thanks again for sharing and giving me some things to think about.

  • Pingback: What’s Your Passion? « Bodysurfing()

  • Andy Jackson

    Thank you for sharing this, Mary/Michael. Lost employment back in November and have been on a journey ever since to try and discern what the next move is. I made good notes from this article and am looking forward to applying these thoughts.

    BTW, Three Movies are: Lord of the Rings (honestly – I didn’t steal yours….), Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean. Common Thread: flawed, ordinary people doing extraordinary things – sometimes breaking the rules (or violating the status quo) to achieve. Yes – awkwardly similar to (today’s working definition) of my passion… Thank you

    • Anonymous

      It’s really fun to do this exercise with a group of folks because I have the joy of seeing lights come on!

    • Tammy Skipper

      I found it interesting that you brought up “sometimes breaking the rules.” I have never put my finger on it, but this is something I have grown to appreciate as I mature. There is a point where people are put second to policies because common sense is excused to allow rules a place at the table. We need to keep people first: in our homes, our relationships and in our work. Thanks for getting me thinking!

  • phebee

    Thornbirds, Sommersby and Far and Away…..common theme…Love that overcomes Adversity…Love that seems unlikely and impossible but perserveres and makes a way. God has shown that love to me by making a way for me to know Him through Jesus Christ, may my life be a reflection of that love so that others who seem unlikely or impossible will come to a Saving knowledge of Him. Thanks for the Post.

    • Anonymous

      And how do you share that love with others?

  • Anonymous

    Passion is one of those great defining qualities in a person. I think that you are correct in your understanding why we have a difficulty finding passion. I know that when I was first in the business world I let me passion run me and I overworked it and it got the best of me. Then I went to the other side of the pendulum and I did not even try to use my passion at all. Then I was studying theology and got some insight from Calvin. Calvin said that (paraphrasing) our work can be a calling from God. It was with that concept and the last line of my job description (and other duties as assigned) that I decided to allow my passion to connect with my work. I decided that the last line of the job duties did not specify who assigned the other duties so I took it upon myself to assign some other duties to myself to allow my passion to come out in my work. I love your three movie exercise. I tried it and was surprised by the result. I think that we have to be careful in naming our passion because we might be overlooking the real passion inside us. I use to think that my passion was teaching learning and development courses. But what I found out is that I like to see people grow and you don’t get to see that with a one or two day class you have to spend time with people, mentoring them, and helping them find their strengths and working through obstacles.

    • Anonymous

      Great thoughts!

      Yeah, passion isn’t the delivery method, it’s the result of it. Mentoring others to see growth is a great thing to do!

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Kat9774

      Thank you! I don’t have three favorite movies, since I rarely watch them. But your post really rang some bells with me. I too overworked my passion and have gone completely to the other side. Now I’m struggling to get back. At this time I still don’t even have a name for my passion. But this time my passion will have to take a different form and I haven’t found it yet. Perhaps I need to find its name first and then the form will become more clear. I’ll keep working on it. I have to keep working on it.

  • Terri E. Matthews

    Gone With The Wind, Wizard of Oz and Airplane. Hmmm I am going to have a hard time finding the common thread with Airplane in the mix. However, the first two are about women trying to find peace/love and finding it in their home. Airplane is just plain funny great escape!

    • Anonymous

      Maybe you can combine humor and escape with women finding peace and love in their home. Do you write/communicate humor?

    • Gina Burgess

      :D And don’t forget, the woman landed the plane if I recall it correctly. Julie Somebody was the airline attendant who landed, right?

  • Gina Burgess

    The Scarlett Pimpernel
    The Count of Monte Cristo
    Pride and Prejudice

    The books were MUCH better than the movies (except for the P and P with Colin Firth done by A&E channel). I was enthralled by these stories the summer I was 13 as much as when an adult. The inter-linking themes are overcoming adversity where the end does not justify the means, knowledge used wisely will lead to truth, and you must look deeper to find the truth.

    Our human frailty is embedded in our perceptions. While it is possible for good to come from deception, we must know the truth in our hearts because the seven deadly sins can overtake us in a heartbeat.

    When I was 13, I had no idea how these underlying themes would affect me in my work as an adult. My sense of justice gets bruised no matter if it’s against me or someone I know. I want to right the wrong; and I cannot stand it when people’s perceptions are clouded by their pride and their prejudice.

    • Anonymous

      I love how self aware you are, Gina. Great comment!

      And, in my opinion, the Colin Firth Mr. Darcy will always be the best one.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe I should be also making a list of my favorite books! I have only fully seen the Count of Monte Cristo (the movie, never read the book) and I absolutely love it.

  • Ed Chinn

    This is very interesting. Off the top of my head, three favorite movies are The Godfather, The Best Years of our Lives, and Tender Mercies. Common threads: family, honor, notions of nobility, coping with evil (navigating, fighting, accomodating it), and pushing through social constructs and limitations to find individual achievement. As a writer, those themes really intrigue me…although I had not defined them that way till now. Thank you.

    • Anonymous

      My hunch is that your writing is peppered with these themes.

  • Anonymous

    What I think is the world’s greatest need:

    I think the world needs to understand God’s overwhelming love for each of us as found in Jesus. I think they need to know that they can call on God at all times and peace can be found by this- His peace, His rest and His power. As we said on Sunday. Christ is risen. Truly He is risen!

    My three favourite movies:

    Raiders of the Lost Ark and sequels
    Star Wars and sequels
    Romancing the Stone

    All of them are overcoming evil, with good triumphing at the end. All have excitement and energy. There is humour in the face of adversity. There is love and respect for each other.

    When I did a passion study with others a few years ago – I heard that my passion was faith and teaching. I have run women’s Bible studies and now am blogging as well.

    Thanks for a most delightful post – I might use these questions in my upcoming study.


    • Anonymous

      The question is how do you specifically want to help people understand God’s love and grace?

      • Anonymous

        I guess the answer is in conversation. For the third time I am attending a mission trip to an Evangelical camp in Poland this summer. I pray that during this time I will be able to show Christ’s love and therefore they will know it and ask Him into their hearts.

        Also the study I am leading for the next 6 weeks is on Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Here we will learn how to truly know that God loves us and how much His Grace can mean to our lives.

        Is that what you mean?

        • Tammy Skipper

          Ann’s book is amazing isn’t it?! I pray that your work would be an example of God’s love to those who benefit from your efforts.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks – please pray for Holy Spirit guidance as I start the sessions this Thursday and have never led a Bible study without a guidebook.

  • Heartstone

    My three favorite movies are, “Braveheart”, “300” and “Last of the Mohicans”. My thought on a common theme would be redemption against all odds.

    • Anonymous

      How does that represent your story? How have you helped others overcome all odds?

      • Heartstone

        Hi Mary, I have a book that will be published this summer that answers that question. When you have a minute it would be great if you could check out my website.

  • Anonymous

    I have been spending the last several months rediscovering and defining my passions and am now at a point that I need to make a change and do something with that newly discovered information. My problem is that I live in a small Ohio town and don’t have the contacts to help me grow in those areas. I’m passionate about helping children and families in poverty and spreading the word about them to people that can help change their situations. I feel like I need plugged into an existing organization to help spread the word, but don’t know where to start. I know there is a multitude of charities out there that already do this, but I don’t know anyone associated with them. My top three are Compassion International, World Vision and Soles for Souls. Any suggestions?

    • Anonymous

      As a Compassion speaker, I can attest that they do an amazing job! But I’ve heard great things about the other two as well.

    • Tammy Skipper

      I’ve always thought it would be great if Soles for Souls had representation at local runs…I mean, there are countless charity runs, 5k’s, etc these days. What a great opportunity to have people bring their shoes!

  • Justin Brackett

    WOW. Michael thank you for letting Mary post this blog. It is something that I needed to read this morning. My passion seems to be waning the last few days. Later today I’ll be slowing down to do these suggested steps.

    Thanks again!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Hooray Justin! Glad to be of help!

  • Brett

    The 3 movies that popped to mind:
    –Royal Tenenbaums
    –Waiting for Guffman
    –Saving Private Ryan (Matt Damon’s line at the end gets me every time when he remembers the sacrifice that went into getting him: Tell me I led a good life… tell me I’m a good man

    The thread – Except for Private Ryan, it was a bunch of misfits trying to find significance. As far as Ryan goes–a person wanting to live in gratitude to prices that had been paid for his life.

    • Anonymous

      And how are you like that? How do you help others realize their significance?

      • Brett

        I don’t know, but I know I love trying to put a finger on it when I can. Folks mention I listen well. I suppose that helps. I’m a commercial insurance guy, so there are few direct outlets professionally. Most importantly, I hope to allow God to work this perspective into my own life and through me to my wife and kids.

  • Lucille

    Excellent post Michael and Mary. I had heard the idea about finding the common thread from your favorite movies — it’s how I came up with the tagline for my counseling, speaking, and writing ministry: “Help for Hurting People.” An excellent book which talks about this is Marcus Buckingham’s “Find Your Strongest Life.” He talks about how the overall happiness for women has declined over the past 40 years because women think they have to do it all. His research found the happiest women don’t try to do everything, they find their passion. Not only do they find it, but they notice themselves doing the things they love. For instance, when I’m with my clients or my writing partners I will shuttle down inside myself and become very aware that in this moment I am doing my passion. Buckingham has a term for this – “catch and cradle.” It’s not selfish to do what God crafted you to do. In fact, I think it is selfish not to.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I heard him speak at Women of Faith this year. Very insightful and empowering!

  • Cindie

    My passion is almost the same as Mary’s…I coach and write to help women enjoy the freedom that they can have in Christ.

  • Anonymous

    A great book I frequently refer people to is “Holy Discontent” by Bill Hybels. The message is finding the one thing you see in this world that in your heart you know is not the way it is meant to be and setting it right.

    My favorite movies are Star Wars, Braveheart and The Patriot. Mel isn’t in the galaxy far, far away, so he’s not the common link. I think it is just what I said above; being discontent with how things are working to set them right.

  • Black Seo Guy

    Once you find that passion then the rest comes easy..its all comes down to just implementing those steps on making your dreams come true..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Margaret

    Great post, fun question! My three fav. films off the top of my head:

    Places in the Heart
    Far and Away
    Shawshank Redemption

    All share the theme of hope and how it becomes the driving force for the characters to reach their dreams through hard work and perseverence. Hope is the shining star that keeps them on a clear path without impuning their integrity, in fact their desire to “do right” by the world is as strong a theme. My passion? Sharing hope filled stories. Slices of life that demonstrate hope, character and how we are all connected …my friends and family call me Pollyanna.

  • Cheriliefeld

    Loved your class at OCCWF Saturday! I love movies so this was hard but the first three I thought of were Gone With The Wind, Sound of Music and Pride and Prejudice. I am thinking all strong women fighting for family, a bit of overcoming??

    You always give us lots to think about. Thanks Mary!

  • Jill

    My three favorite movies are The Big Chill, The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music. Harvey is also a favorite. I’m not sure I see the thread, though.

    • eileen

      Jill, I think I see a theme of community and relationships and helping people heal and overcome. That was just my first thought.

  • Russ

    Great post! Very enlightening and encouraging My three:
    – The Rookie
    – Slumdog Millionaire
    – The Matrix

    The common theme is going against all the odds and “voices” that say you can’t do it. And then, do it.

  • Anonymous

    Great post. Thanks, Michael, for inviting Mary to contribute this article. Off the top of my head, my 3 favorite movies would be: 1) A Christmas Story, 2) Saving Private Ryan, and 3) Forrest Gump. Still searching for a common thread. Any ideas?

  • B_Schebs

    My three favorite movies are:
    The Untouchables

    common theme: Common people doing great things to fight wrongs.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Have you done that in your life? What wrongs have you fought?

      • B_Schebs

        Nothing major really, I am always looking for a way to make a difference, but get booged down or feel like I can’t do it: not enough money, time, knowledge, ETC. I know they are all lame excuses, but hopefully I can overcome and make the changes needed so that I can pursue this more.

  • Desmond

    Rocky, Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are my favorites. Overwhelming theme, a nobody that becomes somebody well persevering through overwhelming odds.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Do you help others persevere through overwhelming odds?

      • Desmond

        In answer to your question, yes. I try to at lest. Sometimes to my own ruin, but that’s part of putting others before yourself.

      • Sassy22

        Girl interupted
        mona lisa smile and horse whisperer
        ? any commom threads?

        • Mary DeMuth

           I haven’t seen the first one, but the latter two are about people trying to change the status quo as outsiders.

      • Gary

        Mine are Miracle on 34th St…Mannequin..(sp?)…the last cowboy…Totally enjoy your comments and article….thanks for great advice and wonderful food for thought….I’m over 60 and wonder so often where I hve missed it…thanks for everything..

  • Deanna

    Thank you for the post!

    I believe my passion and purpose is to help people know, “that God LOVES them and He CHANGES lives.”

    Wasn’t sure whether or not to list my movies, since I rarely watch one.. but I see where they could have a common theme:

    Goodwill Hunting
    Shawshank Redemption
    The Godfather (yikes, yes.. really!)

    The theme of “redemption” is obvious through many areas of my life too. :)

    • Mary DeMuth

      Redemption is so needed today, Deanna.

    • LifeAdventurer

      My favorite movies are The Goonies, Adrenaline Rush, and Million Dollar Baby. They all involve action, adventure, high energy, and a certain degree of risk. I love challenges and pushing myself to always learn more and get better, while helping others do the same. My greatest competition has always been with myself. Always seeking improvement and I’m passionate about self-discovery. My struggle that I’ve found is that I enjoy such a variety in my life that I have a hard time focusing on getting great at just one thing. I enjoy many things – and equally! I researched even further and came across the perfect book and I’m so happy to have found it! It’s called “The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One.”

  • wade

    mine are:
    Gladiator, Lord of the Rings and Life as a House

  • Andrew Acker

    This is something I yearn to discover, but find myself in the tensions between finding what it is, vs the fact that I am young and that discovering what my real passion is as I begin my career takes time. I feel if I had to “find my passion” now I would be limiting myself or wouldn’t actually know it because my career is still in the rookie season for the most part.

  • Anthony Coppedge

    Tremendous post, Michael!

    My three favorites (limiting to three is sooooo hard!):
    * The Matrix
    * Braveheart
    * Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

    • Mary DeMuth

      And what do you see as the common thread?

  • Mike

    Sandlot, Hoosiers, Gladiator…common theme is a focus on young people, family, community, teams – they are worth fighting for even if you take some hits along the way. It very closely resembles my purpose of Building up the hearts, minds, and bodies of young people.

    • Mary DeMuth

      How confirming!

      • Mike

        Thanks B Schebs and Mary. Mary – I am going to conduct this “experiment” in a class I teach to so some young people called “Personal Identity.” I am sure they will like it and I’m going to encourage them to use it as a tool for them to speak to others about their passion. Thanks for sharing today. I enjoyed reading. All the best. Mike Schall.

        • Mary DeMuth

          What happens in the class could be an excellent guest post for this blog.

    • B_Schebs

      Great choice with Hoosiers. I grew up in the next town over from Milan HS in indiana. (the team the movie is based on) and one of the players from the team was a teacher in my High School. I think he would agree with the building hearts minds and bodies part

  • Eliza Huie

    Places In The Heart
    Shawshank Redemption
    Good Will Hunting

    Theme: Redemption. Yup that’s it for me! Love this post. Very motivating. Thanks!

    • Mary DeMuth

      You’re welcome, Eliza.

  • Crystal Miller

    I’ve done this exercise before both with books and movies and still am not sure about any of it.
    1. Armageddon
    2. Die Hard 1
    3. Groundhog Day

    I do have a sense of justice and a need to encourage, which has come out in most things I do. It has not come out in my writing and I struggle with genre.

    It’s interesting to read the others’ passions.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Looks like those movies have to do with reinventing a new normal. Have you ever helped people navigate change?

      • Crystal Miller

        Now that’s a new and interesting thought in this. I probably did this as a sports coach and elementary and P.E. teacher, for sure. I’m not sure this is at the forefront of my own writing, but I have loved my work I’ve done for authors through agents and editors.

        Thanks, Mary. It’s giving me food for thought as I work in focusing.

        • Mary DeMuth

          I’ve found that the more I focus, the more I’m happy.

  • Scoti Springfield Domeij

    “Our insecurities define us more than our hidden, suppressed dreams.” Wow, this is what I admitted to my writing partner last night. Five years ago, I found a way to make a living and pursue my passions. This last year I identified my passions, so any commitments I make fit within those priorities. For far too long, I allowed competing interests to pull me away from my passions. Now it’s so easy to say no. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite movie, the only movie I’ve watched multiple times.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Such a great movie!

      May your insecurities vanish in light of God’s great security.

  • Rebecca Burgener

    I did ask about my “one thing” on twitter and facebook. We’ll see what responses I get.

    As far as three favorite movies, I’m at a loss. I rarely watch movies. So I turned to books, and the list is overwhelming. Pick three? I’ll have to think on that some more.

    I think my overall passion is using my writing to help others while simultaneously furthering the Kingdom of God.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Yes, but be specific. What do you specifically help others discover or do?

      • Rebecca Burgener

        Thank you for the further question, Mary. Sometimes, I want to do . . . everything.

        That’s not possible, and I’m going to spend some time praying and thinking about what my specific purpose is.

        • Gina Burgess

          Rebecca, perhaps that is your strength! There are a lot of Christians who are good at one specific thing and God will use them in that way. There are other Christians who are interested in many different things and God uses them for that very reason. I’m that kind of person. God has used me to organize and start many programs and people then He’ll move me on to another project. The longest I’ve ever been on one project is 7 years (besides teaching Sunday school and discipleship training). The projects range from beginning a youth program when I was 17 to reorganizing a Chamber of Commerce to starting up a program and training volunteers to help abused children and many more.

          Determine which motivational spiritual gift is your strongest: perceiving, encouraging, teaching, giving, organizing/admin, serving, mercy. That will tell you where your heart is and where your passion is. When you are working within your God-given motivation, you won’t burn out. I have a series on these gifts–

          • Rebecca Burgener


            I do have more projects than time. I think my strongest spiritual gift is teaching, but I will spend some time with your series.



      • Rebecca Burgener

        Okay, I’ve picked my three fav stories:
        -The Good Samaritan
        -The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis
        -The story of when Jesus was on the cross and gave the responsibility of caring for his mother to John

        I’m not certain of the common thread. Perhaps selfless giving to others, but that is still very broad.

        I think I am most drawn to helping the overwhelmed, down-trodden, neglected and abused, especially mothers. I want them to see the love of Christ, and their own capabilities. I see so many who seem to think, “Nothing will ever get better so I won’t try.” God has given us all these wonderful talents, and we must do something with them.

        • Mary DeMuth

          What an amazing burden you have to help the downtrodden. Wow. Keep at it.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    For me, my top three movies are

    1. Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan – Braving even when victory is not in sight
    2. Wolfgang Petersen’s The Perfect Storm – Not giving up and fighting till the end
    3. Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption – Never lose positive mindset in life

    But I am not sure how it integrates into my passion.

    Mary ! Thanks for sharing such a ruminative message today. It really made think on my direction in my life. Am I sailing in the right path and the most desired one? Do I need a course correction? I was able to introspect such parameters in me.

  • Oodihi

    This was an amazing exercise!
    My 3 favorite movies are:
    1. The Sound of Music
    2. My Fair Lady
    3. The Loretta Claiborne Story

    The common thread- Woman is given a chance to believe in improbable possibilities and immerses herself in this believe until it changes her. Her future is always so different from her past. I love it! My lifelong passion has been to work to ensure that people around the world in disadvantaged areas get proper health care. That’ll change their lives too!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Wow, that’s a great connect with your movies!

  • Susie Davis

    Mary, I love this!
    Steel Magnolias, Hope Floats came to mind immediately. Emma and It’s Complicated battling it out for #3 …

    • Mary DeMuth

      Are you a romantic?

      • Susie Davis

        Yes, but I think that in all the stories humor plays a part – as well as loving what is set before you. Embracing life regardless of pain. Ordinary glory. That kind of thing.

        • Mary DeMuth

          Susie, you should write a book entitled Ordinary Glory. Wow.

  • Mchavs

    My three favorite movies are: 1. When Harry Met Sally 2. Pride & Prejudice 3. Steel Magnolias – other than being all chick flicks the one common thread I see is relationships.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Yes, and how do you specifically enhance people’s understanding of good relationships?

  • Cynthia Herron

    Mary, I have too many fave’s to mention, but one of my all-time favorite movies would be “Magnificent Obsession.” It’s an old, old classic with Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman, and it has a wonderful spiritual message woven throughout. A more recent favorite would be “Facing the Giants.” Both movies, the old and the new, incorporate a similar theme…that we’re here to make a difference, and also, with Christ all things are possible!

    I could so relate to your post today! (Especially your last identifyer.) Identifying our passion does mean we have to act upon it, and the risk of failure is especially frightening. I’m finding that really hitting home at this time in my life. But I also realize there is no doubt that God is opening doors for me now that were previously closed for a time. To reach out with both hands and accept God’s blessings is a way we can honor Him. To extend those same hands to others offering what we’ve been given is passing it on! : )

    • Mary DeMuth

      Good point. I think we forget that God asks us to act on the truth He gives us. And to shrink away in fear is disobedience.

  • David E. Rockett

    Three Favorite Movies,

    1) Shawshank Redemption
    2) Twelve Monkeys
    3) Chariots of Fire

    All “Overcome-Great-Injustice/Evil” …from dispair — to hope/victory!

    My vocational-vision aspires to a massive increase in Charitable Giving and a Legacy-Vision, particularly amongst serious Christians who sense the burden and reponsibilty of wealth…from grandmothers/aunts with extra CDs…to those with great wealth. I inspire a vision for a leveraged Charitable Legacy that makes it a joy to givie sacrificially beyond their wildest dreams. No despising nice things or advocating Spartan austerity-living here! Yet far too much wealth is depressingly squanderd on fluff — and minimalized in stagnant assets, when it could be leveraged for great good. Overcome the despair and depression of your wealth — with a Leveraged Charitable Legacy!
    David E. Rockett

    • Mary DeMuth

      David, your vision statement took my breath away. Wow. I love what you’re doing and so agree!

  • Luis

    Mr. Holland’s Opus, Cinema Paradiso, Mission Impossible … not sure what the common thread is … but you have shared something that I’m going to be thinking about for a while, Mary, and I thank you.

    • eileen

      Oh, Mr Holland’s Opus. I had forgotten about that one. Good one!

    • Mary DeMuth

      How do you help people overcome extremely difficult, overwhelming circumstances? How have you navigated your own?

  • aj

    My three favorite films are Persuasion, The Secret Garden and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I’m not sure what the theme is yet, but I like the idea that this reflects my passion since I’m the midst of a career change.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Being tongue in cheek here: So you need to be persuaded to retreat in a secret garden to escape the hot tin roof of the uncertainty of career change.

  • Brandonwood2002

    3 favorites would be hard but if I had to off the top of my head I’d go Fight Club, Boondock Saints, & Troy… Any thoughts on a common thread ?

  • Stephanie Zonars

    Three of my favorite movies are Remember the Titans, Coach Carter and Music of the Heart. All three are about individuals who make a difference in young people’s lives by helping them overcome the odds. They show that one person can make an indelible mark on the world. My passion—helping women win in sports and life—is strikingly similar.

    Thanks for these great thoughts. I love the movie exercise and am for sure stealing it from you! :)

  • Anonymous

    I love this post! Thank you for sharing. I will take your advice on posting the “one thing” on my Facebook page. My three favorite movies are Urban Cowboy, Steel Magnolias, and Fried Green Tomatoes. I’m not sure what the common thread would be there.

  • Cam

    My three favorite movies are The Lord of the Rings, Inn of the Sixth Happiness, and Enchanted April, with the common thread being, having to leave one’s comfort zone to get to the heart of the problem!

  • BeverlyMChi

    My three favorite movies are:
    Facing the Giants
    The Passion of the Christ
    As I looked at the common thread of these three movies the theme for me was comeback! God is able to take your setbacks and when all appears to be done and lost He sets you up for a comeback and to live your dreams! I am believing God to make an impact on culture and be a conduit of His kingdom here on earth. My passion is to use my love for Jesus Christ and His church to help impact culture and draw others to the love of Christ. I find that as I write out what God has shown me in fragments at times it gets overwhelming but I am thankful that God does call the qualified He qualifies the called. I know that apart from Him I can do nothing but I know that all wisdom, insight and understanding comes from God and He will place me in my assignment at the precise moment I am needed. Thank you for this post, you have once again lived your purpose in sharing your gifts with others.
    Bless you,

    • Mary DeMuth

      So, Beverly, do you write/talk about comebacks?

  • Janie Seltzer

    Thank you, Mike, for your encouraging and practical post! All of us do indeed have a vocation written in our DNA by our Maker. If we are faithful to sit in His presence, He will uncover what seems deeply concealed in our heart. And, that passions will be confirmed over and over in such ways as you suggest today. . .
    Then, as we become acquainted with our own passion, He will slowly form us into the shape of the vision.. When the shaping is done~ and it will surely come if we are patient in the process~ (Habakkuk 2:3 reminds us)~ suddenly, the future becomes the NOW.
    Thanks again, Janie

  • Suzanne Physick

    Thanks for this – they are great steps to figure your passion out, or just affirm what you thought it might be. My favourite movies – trying not to give it too much thought – are The Green Mile, Philadelphia and The Terminal. Hoping my passion is something deeper than Tom Hanks!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Yes, let’s hope it’s not to follow Tom! :) Maybe you enjoy helping people who don’t fit in?

      • Suzanne Physick

        Don’t get me wrong – love his movies, just not sure I want to dedicate my life to following him!

        The answer I wrote down (I take these things very seriously) for the first question was ‘to feel loved, accepted, heard and believed in’. I think in all of those movies the main character was facing their fight alone and, although the fit itself didn’t change, they were able to win it once they had the support of others. They achieved so much more when they weren’t alone.

        Thanks so much for this – I might even brave asking the one question on my Facebook!

        • Mary DeMuth

          You should ask that question. It may prove to be very insightful.

  • Janie Seltzer

    Thank you, Mike, for your encouraging and practical post! All of us do indeed have a vocation written in our DNA by our Maker. If we are faithful to sit in His presence, He will uncover what seems deeply concealed in our heart. And, that passion will be confirmed over and over in such ways as you suggest today. . .
    Then, as we become acquainted with our own passion, He will slowly form us into the shape of the vision.. When the shaping is done~ and it will surely come if we are patient in the process~ (Habakkuk 2:3 reminds us)~ suddenly, the future becomes the NOW.
    Thanks again, Janie

    • Mary DeMuth

      As my life coach friend reminds me, we only have right now.

  • Anonymous

    Mary, I did the movie exercise in class last weekend and I didn’t figure out what tied them together until I went home! My movies are: Gone with the Wind, The Notebook, and Sleepless in Seattle. At first I thought maybe I am just a sappy dork. But later, I realized: Women who do something totally different than what everyone expects of them, and are true to themselves! I think I write for women like that!

    And I have a great, big passion for seeing women accept and embrace who God made them to be. Some of that is in the book I’m working on, but I definitely need to write more on this.

    Thank you!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Ha ha. You are not a sappy dork!

      Very cool to define your audience like that.

  • Steve

    As always, another great post. Three moves?
    1. “Wind”
    2. Rudy
    3. August Rush
    Common Thread: Each of the main characters had a dream or goal and overcame adversity to achieve them. Watching people achieve something that others didn’t think they could pull-off, or overcome adversity to achieve their dreams always brings a tear to my eye.

    • Mary DeMuth

      So, how do you help others achieve their dreams?

  • Lori B

    I’m at a lost, but fine and optimistic, point in life. This article spoke to me, but, again, I’m lost. My movies were easy and I suspect will say something about my passion, just not sure what…
    It’s a Wonderful Life, Sound of Music and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    If I had to guess, people would say the best things I do are listen, talk and cook. I make people feel comfortable. I just don’t know how to turn this into something that is fulfilling to me and to others.

    • Mary DeMuth

      The thread: Loving others even when it hurts. Doing what is right despite what the world/culture around you says?

      Your passion is not what you do, Lori. It’s who you are. What makes you angry? What keeps you up at night? When was the last time you did something where you passed hours of time but it only felt like minutes?

  • Anonymous

    My favorite Movies would have to be The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Ocean’s Eleven and Remember the Titans. I think the common theme is a group of people that had little in common coming together to accomplish something.

    I can see that unity is a big theme in my life so this makes sense, and is definitely something that God has been showing my wife and I.

    Thank you for this post and exercise, I am getting ready to change jobs and the next one is going to require me to maintain focus on my passion(s). I will definitely be keeping this post around to refer back to and help me find my center.

    • Mary DeMuth

      That’s great that this post will help you in your transition! Hooray!

  • Helen Martin

    Well… I couldn’t do it off the top of my head because my mind went blank. I appreciate movies on so many levels for so many reasons. I never like dark endings, always prefer redemptive ones, even when (especially when?) they’re bittersweet (Shawshank Redemption, Castaway.) They must have good writing. I love a good love story (Sense and Sensibility.) Comedies are usually just for fun, but have to be clever (Groundhog Day, Princess Bride, Waiting For Guffman)

    But when talking about Passion… the movies that stir the deepest part of me, make me weep, and stay with me for days…

    LORD OF THE RINGS: Being compelled to summon outrageous courage in order to do the impossible and finding great strength—previously masked by weakness—which, when put into action for a greater good, is multiplied divinely.

    THE KINGS SPEECH: Ditto. Except add the component of the love of a good friend who loves because it’s in him to love. (This may not stay this high on the list… but the King’s courage was so moving to me and that’s just where I am right now.)

    TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: I love Jem’s “No, Sir” when they would not leave the jail. LOVED. IT. He would do what was right, regardless. Jem is my favorite character, Atticus a close second. (And in my mind, he eventually marries Miss Maudie.)

    Common thread… courage, strength in weakness, compelling circumstances outside ourselves…

    • Karl Mealor

      Included Mockingbird on my list as well! Thought I was being original, then saw it on yours.

      • Helen Martin

        Hey Karl,

        Just saw this–AFTER I commented on *your* post. : )

  • Brian Johnson

    What a great and timely post. I have been pondering that very question recently. Here are my 3
    1. Pirates of the Caribbean (the series)
    2. Last Samurai
    3. Indiana Jones (the series)

    The common threads are a sense of consuming adventure, rise of the underdog, and justice for oppressed and marginalized classes. So my passion area are the marginalized who keep going to overthrow their oppressors in order to find freedom. That sounds right to me!

  • Anonymous

    My passion has always been to help people overcome the everyday obstacles in life in a healthy manner, emotionally, physically and mentally, through my writing. My 3 favorite movies are Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music and It’s a Wonderful Life and the common thread sems to be ordinary, hard-working people who face great struggles and overcome them. My current WIP addresses that passion, as a matter of fact. How funny it is that we follow our passion subconsiously. My former blog site addressed all manner of health and wellness topics. Thanks, Mary & Michael, for bringing this subject to the forefront of my conciousness.

  • Brandon

    Awesome guest post! Passion is important for everything!

  • Susan Wilkinson

    Great post, Mary (thanks, Michael). The post was good and useful, but reading the comments is as well! For those of us who have found our passion and are focused intently on it, it can be very easy to forget the value of other people’s passions. Seeing the greater picture through the comments is refreshing to the soul by taking a bit of pressure off seeing that the things I’m neglecting by focusing on my “one thing” are actually being worked on by others.

    It’s also a beautiful picture of synergy when each person is doing their small bit with great enthusiasm!

  • Joyce

    My passion is to teach women who they are in Christ, through the truths of the scriptures and therefore exposes the lies of Satan and the lies that they believe. Joyce Kelly

    • Mary DeMuth

      Well worded, Joyce.

  • Julie

    I can really only think of two…Mary Poppins and Love Actually. Not sure what theme there is, or what my passion is. I feel like I’m being called toward showing mercy to self-deprecating women but I can’t stay still long enough to really figure it out.

    • Mary DeMuth

      You like British people?

  • Jonathan

    What if your passion isn’t what you are good at? For example: Many people are passionate about playing a sport, but are not good enough to be professionals.

    • Mary DeMuth

      But that’s not deep passion, that’s an action. Passion has to do with what makes you tick inside.

  • Jeremy Myers

    1. The Matrix
    2. The Thirteenth Floor
    3. Lord of the Rings

    Ok. Hmmm…

    Life has meaning, but it is hidden? Life is a mirage? Life is a fantasy? Yikes. That can’t be right.

    I’m going to have to think more about this.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Maybe you love to help folks identify what real life is beyond what it appears to be.

      • Jeremy Myers

        Wow. I think you just nailed it. When I read that, I gasped. Thank you.

        • Mary DeMuth

          I’m so glad, Jeremy!

  • dyuhas62

    Aliens, “Get away from her, you b–ch!” (kills the queen alien), Princess Bride, “I want my father back you son of a b–ch!” (kills Count Rugan), and The Parent Trap (Haley Mills), “We submarined her.” (Vicky). In each situation, they turned the tables on the aggressor through intelligence, confidence, cunning, and brute force. In the end the foe is vanquished, the vulnerable are saved, and fearful darkness turns to light. Good overcomes evil every time. My passion is to fight on the side of the right, to take part in snatching others from the fire, and to train them up as good soldiers in a grand battle.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Wow, perfect fit, then.

  • monica

    Great post–thank you ! I’m pretty sure that the 3rd and 2nd to the last paragraphs were actually supposed to go right after the excuses and right before the three steps. (They probably got moved in the process of copy and paste editing and rearranging.) Just thought you’d like to know! :)

  • @kylereed

    Mary, these are great. I am definitely going to need to take some time to think about this and reflect.

    I have an idea of what it would be, but I want to make sure that is correct with some self-assessment and some peer reflection.

  • Cynthia

    I did the email to friends earlier in the year. Really was a humbling excerise but very insightful.

    My three movies:
    1. Sound of Music
    2. Singing in the Rain
    3. Ms. Congeniality

    Theme? Women who have lived in the shadows but when given the chance their true self/beauty shines?

  • Anonymous

    I really enjoyed your post and in particular this statement, “our ministry is the intersection of our passion and the world’s greatest need. ” Four years ago I began my journey of pursuing my passion to become a licensed marriage & family therapist. I too have a desire to see people heal from their past and move into health and wholeness in Christ and in community with others. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  • Cris Ferreira

    What surprised me about this post is its practicability, how Mary gave us some very easy and “doable” things we can do to find our passion.
    About my movies, there are tons of movies that I love, but I did what you asked: I picked the first three ones that came to my mind: Ladyhawke (which is my ultimate favorite), While you were sleeping and Fireproof. I think the common thread is people trying to find and/or restore love. Not necessarily romantic love, but the one true love, the love that comes from God.
    I’ve got to say that’s an interesting insight for me… It answers a lot of questions I’ve been asking myself lately…
    Thank you very much Mary! And thanks to Michael too!

  • Amber

    Very interesting to think about.

    My three are:
    Jane Eyre
    Sense and Sensibility

    Still looking for common thread.

  • Joseph Sanchez

    I think the greatest need in the world is for people to have genuine encounters with God.
    Braveheart, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are definitely my top 3 movies..I think the common theme is average people/outcasts who end up stopping/ending the reign of something evil.

    • Mary DeMuth

      What evil do you want to eradicate?

  • Bethdeesb

    Wow, it’s tough to pick my three favorite movies, so I will throw out the first three that come to mind.

    Sound of Music
    Facing The Giants

    Not sure what that underlying theme is on these. I do know I have a passion to do things for people. Things unexpected for people that would never expect it from me cause most of the time they don’t know me. I love to see people smile and know they are loved.

    • bethdeesb

      Also have to add that although I have been a Christian since I was 9 years old, I didn’t truly believe God loved me until the last year. I spent 44 years believing Satan’s lies that I couldn’t posibly be loved by God. When I finally understood God’s love and grace for me, it has been a passion for me to share that same love and grace with others.

      • bethdeesb

        Well, I had as much luck with asking the question as trying to figure out the underlying theme from the movies. Only got one response and that person was being silly. Maybe by reading everyone else responses I can figure this out.

  • michelle

    Having a hard time finding my passion in life so thank you for this insightful post! Harry Met Sally, Pretty Woman & PS I Love you . . common thread?

  • JD Eddins

    Family is what I am passionate about, its why I got my Masters degree in marriage and family therapy. It’s why I have held jobs as a therapist and associate minister. It’s why I blog. I want to continue to fuel that passion and address the needs for stronger families.

    • Mary DeMuth

      What specifically are you passionate about within the family?

      • JD Eddins

        I would say talking with fathers. We have a fatherhood crisis in America that is destroying the potential of families.
        Thanks for helping me dig deeper on that and get more specific about the rather broad topic.

  • Karl Mealor

    Favorite movies: Searching for Bobby Fischer, Dead Poet’s Society, To Kill a Mockingbird

    Sergeant York also comes to mind.

    I know. I’m a psychology dissertation just waiting to happen.

    • Karl Mealor

      And if someone could help me identify the passion that’s revealed by these movies, please clue me in.

      • Karl Mealor

        Just realized Mary included Mockingbird in her list. Didn’t realize it until after I had typed my list.

        • Helen Martin

          Since you asked “someone” maybe I qualify. : )

          The common thread seems to be young men/boys… becoming men, and all that entails/includes. And in the first three there’s a strong mentor/leader drawing out the best in them. (Atticus does it quietly, but his example of goodness and integrity is resounding.)

          The boys’ characters are developing, they are discovering their gifts and the meaning of life and the way of the world. It’s unsure how they’ll “turn out” because life is harder than they ever thought. In three of your four movies, the boys brilliantly rise to the occasion. (Can’t remember much about the fate of the Dead Poet boys, except that one tragic death.)

          So, borrowing an idea from Gary Barkalow, you could think about which characters do you most identify with… those discovering, or those helping along the discovery? Or maybe both?

          • Helen Martin

            OH, I just remembered how that one quiet, shy boy was the first one to stand as the teacher was leaving…. (didn’t they stand on their chairs or something…?) Rising to the occasion…? Oh, I’m too impressed with my genius. Gotta log off before I get obnoxious about it. ;-)

    • Mary DeMuth

      Looks like the thread is latent brilliance that’s eventually discovered through painful circumstances. Do you relate to latent brilliance? Do you like to bring out the brilliance in others?

      • Karl Mealor

        I am a teacher, so maybe. Thanks.

  • Michelle

    It was hard picking just three movies, but here’s what I came up with. Dead Poets Society, Much Ado About Nothing, The Kings Speech. All relating to my love of words. Now I just need to put my big girl pants on and do something with that passion.

  • Tammy Skipper

    I have only recently discovered Mary’s blog and am once again blessed by her thoughts. My ‘gut’ reaction on my favorite movies was:
    1. The Sound of Music
    2. Sleepless in Seattle
    3. You’ve Got Mail
    As soon as they came to mind, I was already thinking, “Despite tragedy or the circumstances of life, the heroes worked towards not only their happiness, but the happiness of the one they loved.”
    I dream for marriages to be strengthened today. I believe so many are missing out on the joy and peace God designed for us. It seems a great tragedy is being performed upon the stage of the world and we have become so accustomed to it that we do not even recognize the pain anymore. Obviously I am a romantic at heart, but I believe it must go beyond that. The daily tasks and decisions can build or destroy our foundational relationships. I pray that I could be used by God to affect a change today.

  • Rick Ro.

    The “three-movie exercise”…very interesting. Off the top of my head, here are mine:

    -Local Hero (
    -The Wild Bunch (
    -This Is Spinal Tap (
    (Honorable mention – Big Trouble in Little China) (

    The common thread? Not sure. Three of the four (Local Hero and Spinal Tap, and the reason I threw Big Trouble in there) have heroes/main characters who are more flawed and weak than they think. The band members of Spinal Tap are almost totally clueless, as is the Kurt Russell character in Big Trouble. Peter Riegert’s character in Local Hero is also a bit of a hapless pawn, more so than he thinks. Maybe what resonates with me is that these people somehow manage to live and deal with adversity (much self-created) almost by accident, or in spite of their flaws/weaknesses/cluelessness.

    The Wild Bunch is a violent western from the late 60s, and the main characters are bank robbers who kill lots of folks. It’s got a great plot, lots of character study, some unexpected humor, and a couple of the best shootouts you’ll ever want to see, including a concluding gun battle of four against hundreds.

    I’ll have to mull on this some more.

  • Nina Walsh

    I am a family person; I am a genealogist. I write legacy stories about my deceased relatives and ancestors. I am currently writing about my great great grandfather who was a Union soldier in the Civil War, as I have his diary. I am interested in the Christian legacy my family members have left for their descendants to discover. Steve Green’s song “Find Us Faithful” is my mantra. “Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.”

  • Anne Marie

    My passion is to write and I would agree with your choice of #1 and #2 movies though I would at this stage of my life put it in reverse order and indeed it is because of LOTR I finally found my vocation and that’s to write about the spiritual lessons contained in that masterpiece of a book. Please pray for that and me! For #3 favorite, that would be a little tougher – perhaps Life is Beautiful or Princess Bride.

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

  • Kevink1977

    My 3 movies were Star Wars, The Godfather, and Annie Hall (or The Princess Bride). (is it telling that my three movies are as old as I am!) Any thoughts on what these might say about me? I wish the question had been three favorite novels : Farewell to Arms (Hemingway) Lord of the Rings (hated the movies) Master and Commander (and the other 20 books in this series. This is a recent discovery)

    • Mary DeMuth

      Quirky unlikely folks conquer a problem. Does that describe you?

  • Kristy K

    My passion is encouraging others who have dealt with a family member’s drug addiction. So far, that’s only been through sharing my testimony out loud, but I’m hoping to share my experiences in written form.

    My three favorites: The Wedding Singer, Titanic, The Notebook. Based on this, it looks like my passion is true love? ;)

    • Mary DeMuth

      That’s a great need, Kristy. Godspeed.

      • Kristy K

        Thank you, Mary! Your non-fiction book proposal e-book has been a huge help!

        • Mary DeMuth

          Thanks Kristy! I’m glad the tutorial has helped.

  • Stephanie Meissner

    Mary, great guest post! Three favorite movies? You’ve Got Mail, Under the Tuscan Sun, and Man on Fire. The common thread? Find and LIVE love. Emphasis in the live. :)

    • Mary DeMuth

      Amen. Oh how I resonate with that.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Hey, wait. You’re Stephanie, Susan’s daughter, right? How cool to see you here. Your mom just spent time at our lunch bragging about how cool you are.

      • Stephanie Meissner

        Yes, that’s me! And how nice of her to brag about me. :) She’s pretty cool too!

        • Mary DeMuth

          Yep, I like your mom. She pretty much rocks. And she writes such beautiful books.

  • Rob

    Hey Eileen,
    I believe that passion is hard to corner in only one area. I am passionate for my family. I am passionate for my business. Also, when it’s time to play. I believe the fundamental principle in passion lies in a person’s approach into the here and now.
    Are we focusing on ‘if only’ or lemons to lemonade?
    These two folks exist and we get to decide which one we are:
    1) The person that ‘drags’ their kids to the park and complains about the heat the whole time…or,
    2) The person who takes their kids on an adventure to the park and gets a massive game of ‘it’ going.
    Same temperature, but not temperament. Which do you choose? It’s contagious either way. Which do we want to spread?

    Movies? Hmmm (hand rubbing chin).
    1) Lord of the Rings
    2) Life is Beautiful, required watching if you haven’t seen (subtitled)
    3) Fiddler on the Roof (forgive me for tossing a musical into the mix!)

    Thanks so much.

    • eileen

      Wow, was this question really directed towards me or was that a typo? I’ll attempt to answer it but I am far from having it all figured out.

      I think we have lots of passions but I think there is ONE that predominantly drives the others. When I finally asked myself the question a few years ago…What are you passionate about? I started thinking about that one thing I would want to tell a room full of people. What would I want them to know and to understand. There is such a strong desire in me to help people find hope and freedom from their past and to understand that things are never hopeless…we have the power to make choices…it just takes willingness on our part. That’s another thing I am passionate about. The power of a willing heart, it is such a huge catalyst for change. I am a huge believer in the faith in the mustard seed. We take one step in the right direction and some times that ends up being the biggest most important step!

      Our attitude DOES have a lot to with it. My desire these days is to find the lesson in the circumstance that I might be going through. I look at struggles and failures now as an opportunity to learn and to grow. I definitely want to spread the attitude that the joy is in the journey. So many people take the “I will be happy and content when or if this is happens…” You waste alot of valuable, precious time living like that and we miss so many blessings too.

      So, that’s my unprofessional answer.


      • Mary DeMuth

        Eileen, that sounds entirely professional.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Oh yes, such good words about perspective. And my hunch is that if our passion is truly Jesus, life becomes a beautiful adventure where we savor each moment.

  • Rtingold

    My three movies are Gone with the Wind, Never Been Kissed and Walk in the Clouds. At first, all I thought was how does this relate to my passion? But then I realized the main character has to deal with a challenge. At first it stymies them because none feel they are capable. But in the end, each is stronger for the struggle; their lives have been changed. Still not sure how this relates to my passion?!

    • Mary DeMuth

      How has your life been stronger because of the struggle? How can you help others who struggle?

      • Rtingold

        Thanks for the questions–will consider them. I’ve also loved reading other’s comments on this! And, I realized that my favorite movie of all time is Princess Bride–but now it doesn’t fit with any of the other movies I selected except for maybe the main male character, like in the other movies, is someone people write off or thinking not so highly of — but he and the others show themselves to be capable of rising to the ocassion, making their dreams come true. Wow, more things to consider!

  • Anonymous

    I would add to the list of why I haven’t identified my passions: it wouldn’t matter if I did. Just because I’m passionate about something doesn’t mean that God will throw open opportunities to embrace that passion. It’s just painful to be passionate about something but still have to go to the same job every morning and do the same household chores every evening and weekend and read on blogs about how everyone else is living out their passions. I happily lived passionately many years ago, but the fun I had pursuing my passions caused resentment in my family. I made the choice to get married and have children, so I will make the choice to set aside my passions in order to do what’s expected of me as a wife and mother.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I would disagree, but gently. It’s not that you make your passions subservient, but that you find time (because you are wildly loved by God) to love yourself enough to pursue what brings you joy in the corners of your life.

      I wrote when my kids napped for many years. I did set aside little pieces of time to fuel my desire to help people heal through my words. It made me a better mommy and a happier wife.

      • Robert Ewoldt

        I agree, Mary. There were sometimes in the past few years that I’ve thought that I’d totally given up on my passions and goals in order to be married and have kids (i.e. I have to now be settled down and be a provider), but I think the realizatoin of my goals and passions may come in different ways, and perhaps in a slower manner (like taking a few minutes every day to write).

      • Robert Ewoldt

        Let me also say, though, that getting married and having kids (three BEAUTIFUL kids, by the way) has brought up in me passions that weren’t in me before. I’m now passionate about my kids, too, and have learned to love in a way that I didn’t know how to before, and how to be a servant to my wife. It’s added a dimension to my life that wasn’t there before, and that informs my other passions and goals.

  • Todd Singletary

    I was wrestling with this question just last week and unfortunately I still find myself wrestling with it now. If I sit down and think about it enough I can answer “what is the world’s greatest need according to me” easily enough. I’m not a big movie watcher so coming up with 3 movies I’ve even watched in the past 10 years is difficult. However, the real stumbling block for me comes in the 3rd test. I’ve asked this before and without fail the “one thing” people come back to is a skill set that I get no joy in. So that skill may meet a need, even a ministry need, but it doesn’t make me want to get out of bed in the morning. Does that mean I should be finding joy in this, and I’m not? It’s a frustrating quest.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Mary! For a while I new that I liked writing, but was scared to say that I was passionate about it. To be honest, I still feel that way sometimes. Now that I’ve started to pursue it harder than ever, I’ve found that I’ve become more confident in my skills. It’s hard sometimes though to say your passionate about something because you’re worried that you’re still not at the level other passionate writers are at.

  • SoloBizCoach

    Great exercises Mary. Building off your exercise number 3, I think that it helps to think about what you think others would say is your one thing. While you might have a difficult time thinking about yourself, it is sometimes easier to think about how others perceive you.

  • Courtney Cantrell

    Michael, I tried your 3-movies-hint thing, and it’s totally accurate for me (and I swear, I’m not copying you):

    –Lord of the Rings
    –To Kill a Mockingbird
    –What’s Up, Doc?

    The outcast part comes from my growing up as an American in Germany: I’m a cultural misfit who feels perpetually restless. The change-the-world part comes through in my desire to positively affect the lives of those in my circle through my writing. I also want to retain a childlike sense of wonder as I interact with the world.

    And the What’s Up, Doc? connection? That’s my ever-present desire to stay quirky and always find something to smile about. : )

    • Courtney Cantrell

      Oops! My apologies, Mary! By the time I finished reading the post, I was so excited about the movies thing that I forgot I was reading a guest article. Please forgive!

    • Rick Ro.

      What’s Up, Doc? GREAT MOVIE!

  • SoloBizCoach

    While I am at it, I might as well try the movie exercise. My three favorite movies are:

    1. Braveheart
    2. Red Dawn
    3. Dave

  • W. Mark Thompson

    Wow! Saw this statement: “Our insecurities define us more than our hidden, suppressed dreams.” Pierced to the emotional core. Which led to a rawness to face the other questions. This may take some time. Thanks for the awakening, Mary.

    • Mary DeMuth

      So do you help others overcome odds?

      • W. Mark Thompson

        Pursuing it. Have some ideas where I believe I can help.

  • Katherine Hyde

    I believe the world most needs to know the love of God. What I most love to do is write fiction.
    The three favorite movies that first came to mind are The Princess Bride, Somewhere in Time, and Pride & Prejudice—all about romantic love that overcomes impossible odds. In the first two, it overcomes death itself. So that would suggest my passion is the fictional depiction of the love of God, imaged at least partly through romantic love. (In other words, your classic fairy tale!) So far everything I’ve written has had an element of romance, so that may not be far off. Perhaps I’ll try the “one thing” question on Facebook. Interesting post, Mary!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Great insights, Katherine. How interesting that you write with a strong romantic element.

      • Katherine Hyde

        The funny part is that the last thing in the world I would ever write is straight category romance.

  • Ralene

    Really enjoyed this post, Mary!

    My 3 fav movies: Enchanted, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia.

    The common thread? In each, the MC is taken from their peaceful world and thrown into a completely new one where they learn more about themselves and their ability to affect change then they could have known otherwise.

    • Mary DeMuth

      So do you help others affect change in new situations?

  • K.C. Procter

    I cannot begin to tell you how helpful this will be for me. While I don’t know if the reasons for not yet finding my passion are a good fit this one comes close:
    “We’re extremely busy maintaining an overbooked life and don’t have time to reconsider why we’re working ourselves to death.”

    Working full time while completing an MBA and balancing time with family literally has me burning the proverbial candle at both ends. In the meantime I have felt this vague sense of energy building momentum and I am excited to discover my dream and create a life plan.

    Thank you, Mary and Michael, for sharing this with us.

    I plan on using this post as a template for my blog on Thursday and will link back.

  • LesaKMelchor


    For me, this is one of the best blog posts you’ve ever written. Probably because it hits so close to home for me as I’m trying to make decisions about change. There is a crossroads you come to that requires decisions about your job or career and the change needed to fulfill your passion. I’m in these muddy waters trying to figure out how to do it.

    1. Sea Biscuit
    2. Slum Dog Millionare
    3. Under The Tuscan Sun

    Passion: Teaching, speaking, writing and proclaiming to the world that Jesus can help you overcome even the most horrific tragedies. He can give you a new life and restore passion, purpose and dreams. And, most of all, to reveal lies people believe about God that hinders healing and effective relationship building with Him. To build a business or ministry that supports this vision by assisting those in deep need of God’s love. To help people overcome, especially those who are outcasts by society and family.

    This week I was ask those closest to me to define my ‘one’.

    Could you give some wisdom or advice about how to implement or transition into your passion when you already have a career? Do you do it part-time, or maybe build a business plan that helps with transition? Thanks in advance!

    Thanks for this blog post,


    • LesaKMelchor

      Oh gosh, I’m so sorry Mike and Mary. I just saw that this was a guest blog. My apologies! Yeah, I’m the brightest crayon in the box today! Mary – this was a right-on-time blog and please comment on my questions if you can. Mike – so sorry! :)

      • Mary DeMuth

        That’s actually flattering, Lesa. :) I wrote the best post Mike wrote. :)

        I’d definitely tuck your passion into the corners of your life as you transition out. We all have to work to provide; it’s part of our lot in life.

        • LesaKMelchor

          Mary – I was afraid you were going to say that! :) haha I was hoping for a quick-fix miracle cure for what ails me! Obviously, I know better than that! :) It really was a great post, mostly because its timely in my life right now. Thank you so much!!! I look forward to hearing more wisdom from the Texas Lady! (from Texas myself).

          Thanks again – Lesa

          PS – Mike has written many great posts that have helped me in so many ways. I could never repay him for all he’s done to educate me with his vast wisdom. :)

  • Cecemines

    Question #2
    *The Mission
    *Bread and Tulips
    *Thelma and Louise
    Common thread: People who either recognize the need for a change or are forced to change… either way they allow themselves to be vulnerable and eventually come to embrace the change 100%

    • Mary DeMuth

      I love The Mission. Great movie. Great thread!

  • Dr. Brad Semp

    I personally love the “ask others about one thing” suggestion. Just today a business partner of mine asked me to share with him what I thought was his biggest weakness as a leader. These are sometimes hard questions to answer but even harder to gain the courage to ask.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Yes, I agree. And it’s a brave thing to do.

  • Molly

    Top 3 movies: Under the Tuscan Sun, Steel Magnolias, The Bucket List

    Underlying theme: Friendships/relationships, breaking out of the comfort zone to accomplish bigger things.

    Mary, I did the ‘my one thing’ several months ago thinking I would receive replies that would give affirmation to my writing skills. None of them did.

    Your post today reminded me that my passion is not the manner of communication.

    Perhaps my true passion is helping others build positive relationships, providing a place in women’s ministry for friendships to grow, and to finally let go of my own propensity to cling to the comfortable.

    Definitely deserves more thought. Wait a minute….maybe it’s time to think less and do more!

    • Mary DeMuth

      No, writing is the vehicle to your passion. Your passion is what you write about.

  • Sally

    Some like it hot
    Napoleon Dynamite
    To kill a mocking bird.
    I’m really not sure what the common thread is here, could you help me?

  • Janet

    My passion is to live full-0n for the cause of Christ. My passion is something I would die for. I spend time helping broken lives mend, but saving souls for eternity is my passion. I cherish all who are servers, helpers, business owners etc, because I need you and the world couldn’t function without you. When it comes to saving souls, and teaching others what I know, just get out of my way. I LOVE placing the hand of a lost soul in the Hand of God.

  • Anonymous

    I’m going to try the “one thing” exercise on Facebook. I have many passions, and so far have not settled on one. Thanks for the insight!

  • Marti Burbeck

    First off, it’s taken me 30 years of being married to movie-lover to decide that there are movies that are indeed spending time watching. But being forced to answer the question at hand, I have really liked Doubt, The Red Violin and Ghandi. There are in fact many others that I’ve found meaningful, so this is perhaps not the most representative list. But the common thread I believe I see in these plus others that I might have picked is that happy endings are not necessarily the most important thing for me. Rather, I appreciate movies that present difficult situations and decisions, and that challenge me to consider what I might do. And I like best movies that are rooted in history and nonfiction.

  • Anonymous

    These were the first three that came to mind:
    The Matrix- Beating the odds, being “the one” to save the world
    The Punisher- 1 man against a criminal system
    The Shawshank Redemption- Surviving against the odds, exposing corruption.

    • Robert Ewoldt

      So, commone theme being one person working against the system… hmmmm… an evil mastermind?

      • Anonymous

        Yes Bob, as you know, I have always had in mind to be an evil mastermind, but never had the backbone to do so. Therefore, I am Igor- the ‘faithful’ assistant who will one day take over the world!

        • Robert Ewoldt

          Ha ha

  • Barbara Thayer

    I truly enjoyed this article Mary. It was wonderful and I already know what my passion is…just have to find the way to express it the very best. My passion is to encourage others and exhort them in their faith. I have spent my life doing this and it fills me to overflowing when I can make people smile. One reason I started writing my devotions was to encourage my friends who, like myself, all have Post Polio Syndrome. We started an email group and that is how I began to write devotions fifteen years ago. Some of them could not get out and go to church. I wanted to lift them up. So….I do know my passion and my calling. I expanded to a blog recently to reach others in need of encouraging words. Now…I just need to see what else God has in store for me with regards to writing. Thank you for sharing this great information.

  • JennyC

    Mary, thank you for such a succinct, articulate, empowering post!

    It’s hard to narrow my top 3 favorite films, but I’ll go with Life is Beautiful, Fiddler on the Roof, and Dances with Wolves.

    I see that all deal with changing in response to persecution and oppression, clearly. But my passion is holistic/natural health and helping people to see their God-given power to heal naturally and empower them to make the changes they need to live vibrant, healthy lives.

    I love this exercise, but I’m trying to see the film-passion connection for myself.

    • Mary DeMuth

      You could view it as toxic chemicals and unnatural eating is a foe (oppression). You’re helping folks combat that.

      • JennyC

        Thanks, Mary! Yes, I do see that as a “hidden” or “invisible” form of oppression.

  • Cyberquill

    Finding one’s passion is a lot easier than funding it.

    • B_Schebs

      Agreed. I think this alot. I think for me, it is fear. If I really REALLY wanted it. I would find the time and money. The risk of actually going all out for it is scary though.

      • Cyberquill

        That’s the standard response: if you really wanted it, you’d “find a way” to finance it. By that logic, there’d be no starving people, because if they really wanted food, they’d find a way to get it. And if they can’t, it means they’re being held back by a fear of food.

  • Codie Leath

    Thank you for a fantastic post!

    My passion is training others to live out the Great Commission in everyday life. I think the world’s greatest need is for non-Christians to put their faith in Christ and for Christians to get in the game. My unique ability is packaging and presenting information for maximum impact. So, in a micro sense, I’m sharing the gospel with my lost friends and discipling young believers. On the macro level, I’m a retreat speaker, blogger (, and aspiring author. (Although my full time job is stay at home mom.)

    For my 30th birthday, 20 or so friends wrote me letters of encouragement. I was surprised to read the majority commented on how I’ve challenged them over the years. I see now that “coach” tends to be the natural role I fill in people’s lives. This was very insightful in my passion coming to a clear point in my mind.

    It feels good to be clear on life’s purpose. I filter every day through that purpose. And my daily prayer is “Lord, make me useful!”

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Codie, thanks for sharing your blog link; I checked it out, and I loved your two posts on mentoring.

      • Codie Leath

        Thank you for checking out my blog and for the feedback!!

        • Robert Ewoldt

          No problem. I love visiting blows that I find on Michael’s site.

  • Anonymous

    Great post! I love reading posts like this.
    I would say that my passion is refresh others through encouraging
    spiritual tidbits. As a worship leader as well as blogger, I want people to
    be refreshed and renewed by the presence of God…It hurts me to see burnt
    out leaders…So I love encouraging and helping people out of those situations.

  • Margot

    Wow. This is a great string. I read it yesterday and I’m still struggling to connect my three fave movies:

    A Beautiful Mind
    All About Eve

    I’m going to ask my nearest and dearest about my “one thing”…

  • Scott Luck

    Great post! I love Shawshank, Lord of Rings, and Star Wars. The common thread…not giving up hope in the face of incredible odds.

  • hakim

    Shawshank redemption, the borne identity, patch adams. The common thread between these movies is: have hope in overcoming past and present difficulties to care for others.

    • Mary DeMuth

      So how do you help others overcome a difficult past?

  • Brandon Weldy

    I really enjoyed this post! I have really been doing some evaluating of my life, with reading Creating Your Personal Life Plan and actually reading some other leadership stuff, along with doing some writing of my own to hash out ideas instead of doing the whole “I’ll think of it later” thing. My three? Lord of the Rings, Armageddon, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Common Thread? Ordinary people coming together and doing incredible things, no matter the obstacles they face.

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Brandon, I’ve been working through the “Creating Your Personal Life Plan,” too. I’ve found that doing some hard looking at myself and my goals has been very productive for me. It’s really gotten me energized!

      • Brandon Weldy

        Energized is a great word to describe how I have been feeling!

  • Jason Fountain

    Wonderful post, Mary. My three favorite movies:

    1. Dead Poet’s Society
    2. Schindler’s List
    3. Remember the Titans

    Common thread: These all have a theme of helping others find their true voice, giving others hope, and helping others better understand themselves.

    Awesome thoughts in the post! Thanks.

  • Clinton

    Favorite 3 movies
    Forrest Gump
    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
    Theme? Perhaps the ability to live life in your circumstances without looking at what others do. Perhaps also that adventure is everywhere.

  • Alicia

    According to my Facebook page, my top three movies are Pride and Prejudice, The Princess Bride, and Star Trek (2009). Common thread? Hmm. Possibly that each one includes a young, seemingly cocky (or actually cocky) man in whom people discover a level of depth and maturity as he pursues something or someone he will not give up on.

    Now, I have no idea what that means. I will say that for a long time I listed The Mummy Returns as a favorite, not for the action, but for the steady marriage relationship that Rick & Evelyn O’Connell exhibited. And the first two movies I mentioned include women who are the one to discover or prove to others the depth, maturity, and dedication of their male counterparts.

    But again, as I am single and have barely dated at all in my life, I still have no idea what that means.

    • Mary DeMuth

      It may mean that you have an uncanny perception for brilliance in others, and that perhaps your passion comes in helping them mine and discover that brilliance.

  • Robert Ewoldt

    Thanks for the great post, Mary. I’m going to take your advice and ask people close to me what my “one thing” is.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Robert, you get five gold stars for being brave.

  • Mjgarcia

    Matrix, Braveheart and Bourne Identity. I see the common thread as the hero “Finding out who and what they really are.”

    • Mary DeMuth

      Have you found out who you really are?

      • Mjgarcia

        working on it.

  • Manoj

    While trying to list down the movies something crossed my mind. It’s really not the movie as a whole that makes sense but rather it was few characters in those movies to whom I related. Here is what I mean:-

    1. It was not Matrix the movie but Morpheus the character I related to.
    2. The character of Rocky Balboa in the Rocky series.
    3. The character of Hector in Troy.

    I do see a common thread for sure; it is their undying sense of commitment towards their duties and always doing the right things even when facing seemingly unbeatable odds.

    – Manoj

    • Mary DeMuth

      How have you overcome huge odds, Manoj?

  • Cynthia Leighton

    Hmm. Did enjoy The King’s Speech last year! That’s probably the only one I’ve seen for quite a while. Gave up television for a year, a few years ago. Thought it would be difficult but when I found I did not miss it, I did not return to watching television. No commitment to keeping it that way, but no interest in returning to TV watching.

    My one thing is Mass.

    Mass is the central focus of the Catholic Catholic church, our most precious prayer.

    If I were to survey folks, the answer would likely be volunteering at church. I do enjoy serving in many ways. Far and away most especially at Mass. Lector. Eucharistic Minister. Choir.

    Would love to be a priest.

    Feel called! It is an intersection point of greatest need. However, I cannot offer what the church requires of a priest because I am a woman and the Catholic church does not permit women to be considered for the evaluation process for those who are chosen to be educated and trained as potential priests.

    I have no interest in becoming a nun or in living in a community of women. Did feel a powerful experience of God in encountering now-Blessed Teresa of Calcutta one-on-one in Calcutta twice, but even that did not spark any interest whatsoever in being a nun. Sought out other religious paths for years but returned to the Catholic church in 1996 recognizing that there is nothing else for me and choosing to return permanently.

    It is my church and I feel called to be a priest.

    I love Mass and participate daily. I love serving at Mass and serving in other ways such as in our Youth Ministry leadership team and our new-people Rite Of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) leadership team. Easter Vigil serving in choir and as a Eucharistic Minister as we brought 71 people into our church, receiving their sacraments, including 33 Baptisms, most by immersion, was a peak experience that continued as I served Easter Sunday as a Lector followed by two choirs. My passion for Mass and serving does not fit reality though it fits the world’s need for priests in the Catholic church. I do not fit, there is no place for me. And yet? Here I am.

    Here I am.


    • Mary DeMuth

      My husband worked at Mother Teresa’s home for the dying and destitute and met her. She blessed him!

      Being a priest is actually just a title if you look at it a different way. In one of my novels, Daisy Chain, I explore this idea by showcasing a pastor who doesn’t act like him. Yet there’s an outcast who acts more like one than the pastor. In my eyes, he’s the pastor, really.

      How you live and how you love shows your priestliness. Rest there.

  • Jan Udlock

    I’ll play: Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, and Elizabeth Glaskell’s Wives and Daughters. I don’t know what theme underlies these movies. Any feedback? They seem to have very strong women characters. (I’m trying to stay up to 9:30 with a stuffy head…)

    • Mary DeMuth

      What do you define as strong? How can you help other women realize their strength? In your own life, what have you had to overcome to be strong?

  • Lkfischer

    Great Post! I will have to try this “one thing” with family and peers. Passion is something I feel needs to be harnessed. Careless behavior has taken people to dangerous places in the act of their passion. How do we harness passion without holding ourselves back?

    • Mary DeMuth

      Great question!

  • Abby Van Wormer

    My 2 favorite movies, or the ones that first came to mind: Shrek and Elf. I am not sure what the third one is. Maybe Mr. Deeds or Never Say Never.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Or that you’re goofy? :)

      Do you relate best to lighthearted folks who find their passion? Are you lighthearted?

      • Abby Van Wormer

        LOL! I like movies that make me laugh and I like being around people who make me laugh. I hope that I am lighthearted. :)

        • Mary DeMuth

          Just look at your happy photo!

  • Steve Decker

    My passion is the effective transfer of the Christian faith through the generations, especially among first generation believers who desire to ‘start the ball rolling’.

    My two ‘speed bumps’ are feeling insignificant about making an impact and the sting of past rejection.

    Some of my favorite movies are Blind Side, Chariots of Fire, Star Wars and Toy Story 3.

    Any movie suggestions that would feed my passion?

    • Mary DeMuth

      I love your passion! I was a first generation believer and would’ve relished someone coming alongside me. Dare to risk beyond your feeling of insignificance and rejection because folks like me need you!

      All movies involve growth beyond hardship and maturing, which makes sense in light of your passion.

  • Suzannah Allen

    I have been on the search for my passion, my niche in life, for a few years now. As I read your article I found myself nodding when I read all of your reasons why we don’t identify or persue our passion because I have thought, or said, pretty much all of them. But recently, I have felt the Lord opening my eyes, and heart, to the hurt and brokneness in the lives of those around me, and I don’t mean on a broad world scale, but my friends, family and those I come across daily. I have felt such a burden to encourage and support them. But to identify the specific outcome of this journey? Not quite there yet.

    My three favourite movies are: It’s a Wonderful Life, Schindler’s List & the Anne of Green Gables series.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Suzannah, look at how the main characters in those lists do extraordinary things for others. Perhaps your passion is not only having empathy for others (a huge skill set not all of us have) but finding creative ways to meet needs. There’s a huge need for this.

      • Suzannah Allen

        Thank you so much for your words of encouragement Mary. I will continue to pray for God’s guidance and for Him to continue to bless you in the work that you do.

  • Bonnie Small

    I’m not seeing a common thread in my 3 movies: The Station Agent, Yentl, Ground Hog Day… hmmm.

    A very interesting article. I asked a couple people what my one thing is and they only came up with cooking and knitting and reading which are things I like to do. Not sure what is meant by my one thing. Is there another way to ask this question to get a different answer? Thank you.

    • Mary DeMuth

      What makes you most angry?

      The thread might be bewildered people in extraordinary situations. Do you like to help people transition?

      • Bonnie Small

        OK, I asked others what makes me most angry and the answer is: being lied to.

        I have helped a few during a transition in their lives. I’ve never thought of it as something I do but rather a friend in a situation that needed to be resolved and I had the ability to lend a hand.

        • Mary DeMuth

          Yes, but without asking others, what makes you most angry?

          • Bonnie Small

            I look at both sides of an issue and rarely get angry anymore. They were right though. I don’t like to be lied to and rarely do people take responsibility for their actions because there is someone in the wings ready to defend their bad behavior as someone else’s fault.

  • Ralph Stoever

    Started the 3 movies exercise: I have identified 2 movies (The hunt for red october and Apollo 13).
    Wondering what is number 3 (maybe Invictus, but I doubt it). The big challenge is to identify the common thread now.

    I’ll send out the ‘What is my thing e-mail’ tonight, maybe it’ll help also with finding an answer to the movie exercise.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Maybe loyalty to what is right?

      • Ralph Stoever

        @MaryDemuth:disqus This does seem to be an impressively good judgement of my character. Not sure how it’ll translate into living this passion here and now…Michael has found a challenging way to make me reflect on what matters and how to live it!

        • Mary DeMuth

          Thanks for your kind words!

  • Jeff Goins

    Really enjoyed this article, Mary – great job! You’ve given me a lot to think about.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Jeff. Glad it helped. It humbles me that I made YOU think! (You’re already a thinker!)

      • Jeff Goins

        Hah! Seriously, it’s caused a burning in me.

        • Mary DeMuth

          Burn, baby burn!

          • Jeff Goins


  • Anonymous

    Where does one go when “the one thing” everyone says is not enjoyable at all? In other words how does stewardship of a skill/education/gift factor in if there’s little to no joy?

    • Mary DeMuth

      It’s time to give yourself permission to dig deeper and find that thing that invigorates you. My hunch is that people know you for what you do well, but not your passion because you haven’t yet lived out of your passion.

  • Laura-Lee Vernon

    Wow, one of the best posts I’ve read. While all your posts are phenomenal, this one speaks to me on a different level. I just want to get up and go do something, anything! My favorite Movies are Grease, Pride and Prejudice and The Lord of the Rings. Thanks for the inspiring thoughts.

  • Jennjoleva

    defining my passion … I love to share my passion of design, sewing, and crafts with children women, men and missionary’s.
    My Joy and heartfelt desires everyday is to connect to prayer aligning myself to being used in blessing others.
    When I do that I am filled with love!
    I am filled with passion leading others to participate in duplicating the vision of using there creative gifts that God has freely given to us all.
    the original article or craft that I design is a vehicle. it is used to raise awareness of the need to clothing and food in places around the world ..The people we have touched are here in USA,Malawi, Africa, Haiti, Mexico and India.
    My Passion is to continue joining hands teaching and facilitating others around the world to a new skill of design,sewing, & crafting this new skill they can be use for a resource or income .
    I have a talent God has handed down to me threw my ancestors . I am third generation theatrical costume designer. I have new heart to love others because of my passion.

  • Blair Howell

    Great post Mary. A lot of great tips and well… questions I know I have asked myself many times. I have been thinking quite a bit lately about that concept – ‘Passion’. What does it mean to me and am I living that ‘passion’ in my life. This is one post I need to re-read and mediatate a bit on. Thanks again. By the way my 3 favourite movies are Faith Like Potatoes, Gladiator and Lord of the Rings (with Braveheart and Star Wars close behind). Cheers!

  • Lisa E. Williams

    Mary, As always you are right on it! Know wonder you are one of my favorite mentors from a far off… My thing is marriage. I believe that all women should experience life long love from a committed husband. The kind of love I hope for is a reflection of the love they enjoy with Jesus Christ. I speak and teach to that end. You keep helping women get free enough to LOVE!

  • Jennie Jodziewicz

    This is very insightful, thank you. I’ve already texted my husband to find out what his top 3 are (I know one – his top and my top are the same). So, my 3 movies are: The Princess Bride, A Knights Tale, and Ever After. I feel my passion is writing, and doing it in a way that helps others see their significance, worth, brilliance and capabilities, so that they can use their passion to change the world, one person at a time… I’m just not sure how those movies line up – so would love some insight on that if you’ve got some to share.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Writing is the vehicle for your passion; your passion lies in helping others find significance.

      • Jennie Jodziewicz

        Oh. what an enlightening response. In all my years, I thought writing was my thing. Now, being an author doesn’t sound so scary. My passion is helping others find significance – so much more meaningful than striving to just becoming a known author. Sounds so simple and matter-of-fact when you put it that way… I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of writing as just the ‘vehicle’ for my true passion before now… thank you!

        • Mary DeMuth

          I’m glad that helped, Jennie.

  • Jan ODaniel

    Awesome post! Could it be this easy, though? My favorite movies are Hudsucker Proxy, Lord of the Rings and Urban Cowboy. My thread? Champion of the underdog!

    • Mary DeMuth

      So how have you helped the underdog this week?

  • V.V. Denman

    Pride & Prejudice, While You Were Sleeping, Anne of Green Gables

    Well, I guess I’m a girly girl. I love a good chick flick/love story. In each of these, the heroine betters herself through self-discovery and relationship. I’m having trouble translating that into my passion. Maybe, helping others better themselves through spiritual growth?

    • Mary DeMuth

      Is that what you’re passionate about? Do you teach?

      • V.V. Denman

        I’m a homeschool teacher and lead the occasional ladies’ Bible class, but my joy is in writing. I feel strongly about helping women grow closer to the Lord, but I enjoy writing about romantic relationships. That’s what confuses me. I want to write more than an entertaining romance. I want to help people.

  • yazzzooo

    Spontaneous response to the movies: Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Adventures in Babysitting…definately triumph over adversity while finding your true self worth.

    My passion…building “mosaics” bringing diverse people and resources together to create something new and beautiful and I hate waste…talent, resources, time….it all has value!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Fascinating way to put it using the metaphor of mosaics. Well said.

  • Anonymous

    Good advice here. I just did a mental queue of my three movies and they all have similar themes: racial reconciliation. I’m going to ask my friends on Facebook the question posed above. I believe I am on the right track re: my passion, but this certainly serves to confirm.

    • Mary DeMuth

      So glad to hear it brought confirmation.

  • Mimi

    Die Hard, The Godfather, Accepted… at first I thought I had it all figured out until I read some of the comments on this thread. One person had Die Hard and another of my favorite movies and the thread he came up with resonated with me, which was the “down and out” guy had to rise to the occasion to succeed. What I originally came up with was the fighting for the “underdogs”

    • Mary DeMuth

      There are many ways to examine a movie. I’d go with your gut.

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  • Jeff Randleman

    Wow. My top three movies were all pretty similar. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Tommy Boy. All of them are about someone overcoming insurmounatble odds. I’m not sure just how this fits me yet, but it did give me significant food for thought.

    My passion is creation. In our age of “science”, creation just might be the underdog who overcomes the odds….

  • Amanda Gascho

    Legends of the Fall, 10 Things I Hate About You, Sweet Home Alabama… can anyone see a common thread?

    • TNeal

      Legends of the Fall threw me for a moment but the common thread is good-looking lead men. My wife might agree. ;-)

  • Keeperof4

    Hmmm hard to narrow this down, but my absolute favorite is Dirty Dancing , Under The Tuscan Sun, and Pride and Prejudice are some other ones. I am sure there are others, but can’t really think right now.

    • Mary DeMuth

      All have strong women in extraordinary circumstances.

  • Jen C

    Am I the only one that can’t think of any favorite movies? :( I asked my husband and he couldn’t come up with much either.

    Is there an alternate exercise?

    • Helen Martin

      (If it was me in your shoes, I’d pick my three favorite books–fiction.)

    • Mary DeMuth


  • TNeal

    Mary, great stuff here. You’ve given us practical-you-can-do-this steps to guide the pursuit of passion.

    As for three movies: My Cousin Vinnie, The Princess Bride, and the Bourne Trilogy. The common theme: I saw all of them with good friends. Didn’t figure that out until I started writing them out. Thanks–Tom

    • Mary DeMuth

      All involve some sort of adventure.

      • TNeal

        That’s what hit me at first also. But the deeper connection for me was the importance of who was with me and, in one case, where I saw the movie. I saw “Princess Bride” on the framed-in foundation of my brother’s future home. The connection surprised me but it does hit on my passion which is the building of community centered in Jesus Christ. The three movies for me represent community. That’s what I blog about and that’s definitely a clear (at least to me) element in my fiction writing.

        • Mary DeMuth

          You have the most interesting response, which goes to show how important building community is to you.

          • TNeal

            Mary, I just returned from a 45 minute ride (bicycle) and saw your reply. I’d be writing this anyway but you’ve prompted me further. Your post is still working in me and helping me to deepen some thoughts. I’ve shared a link on my Facebook page because I think what you’ve said is so practical and helpful. Thanks again–Tom

  • Margot

    Mary: I can’t believe how much this post has made me think and consider. I posted yesterday, and I’m still working to find the connection in my movies:

    A Beautiful Mind
    All About Eve

    Any thoughts? Thanks!!

    • Mary DeMuth

      Certainly there’s an element of people being on the fringe, or not fitting into society’s “perfect” standards” yet still able to live well.

      • Margot

        Hmmm…that actually resonates quite a bit. Food for thought. Thanks.

        It’s amazing how this thread has triggered so many individuals searching to identify their passion. I can’t believe how powerful three seemingly simple little steps can be.

        • Mary DeMuth

          I’m surprised, too, at the response. I’m so grateful that the post has helped people!

  • Todd Gorton

    The Matrix
    Dumb & Dumber
    Any Documentary

    Journeying through life to learn and discover more about themselves and what they have to offer the world.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Todd! Are you the person I met at OCCWC? If so, you were the guy who told me my exercise was silly, but then you thought about it and thought it not-so-silly. Am I right?

  • Muttilein5

    Flash of genius; charms of the easy life; station agent

    • Mary DeMuth

      What do you see as the common theme? That’s a pretty eclectic mix.

  • Muttilein5

    flash of genius; charms of the easy life; station agent

  • Jim Harris

    Interesting post. Very helpful since finding my passion is something I’ve been working on this past year. Not sure I’m there yet.

    My 3 favorite movies; North to Alaska, Quigley Down Under, El Dorado. All westerns and yes I’m a cowboy at heart. Common theme, all have someone who has a particulary strength which can be used for good or bad. They don’t like the odds they see and the wrong that’s being done. They use their strength to help those who would be abused or walked on by others.

    Not sure how this is playing out in my life, but definitely has given me something to think about.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Being an advocate for those who can’t. That’s a huge need.

  • Richard

    My movies are Forest Gump; Braveheart; and Planes, Tranes and Automobiles. Any insight on the common themes? My first thoughts are helping one another get through troubling times.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Or you can look at it as folks on the outside, perhaps unsure of themselves at first or their place in the world, finally becoming comfortable in their own skin and embracing who they are.

  • Lily Garza

    Michael, my three favorite movies:
    Bridges of Madison County
    Joy Luck Club
    The common thread, I never thought about it. My passion, I have never really thought about it and if I have I wasn’t aware of it, does that make sense. The past 6 months I have felt different, I feel like I am awake, I dont know how else to describe it. Your input would be appreciated.

    • Mary DeMuth

      I’m not sure exactly what the thread might be, but I do see a lot of community in those stories, whether one on one or a group of friends/family. How do you like to foster community? How have you helped others create community?

      • Lily321967

        Mary, I’m not sure I follow or understand your question. I know that I love the movies because I can relate to how the women feel about themselves, I can relate to it, I know what it feels like to be in their shoes, but how does that relate to “my passion”. Quite puzzled.

  • Edenpure Heater

    Wow, great post! Everything you’ve said has hit the nail on the head. So many people are afraid of admitting to themselves what their passion is because of that fear of rejection or maybe its the fear of having to actually act on that passion and do something about it.
    I must say the exercise where you list your three favorite movies without over thinking it is awesome. I never would have thought to look at those movies to see the common thread. Even the movies that you think wouldn’t have any sort of connection at all do.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Movies tap into who we are, what we like, what we want to be. So it makes sense.

  • Kathleen Langridge

    Pride and Prejudice
    Miss Potter
    Becoming Jane

    My passion is knowing God, not just about Him. I was a preacher, now I am starting to write. My desire is to see men and women teamed to show the full person of God through mutual leadership in the church. I have run from this very hard road for over 30 years. But my time is running out, I need to listen and obey.

    • Mary DeMuth

      That’s a huge task/passion. May the Lord invigorate you for the work.

  • Mctjet


    I have had the opportunity to seek adventure and what I thought was passion in many of my career pursuits where I have served as soldier in the infantry, a police officer, fire fighter, intelligence officer, Federal Air Marshal and as a Special Agent who has protected several cabinet level secretaries. Now I feel no passion. I don’t feel like I am the only one who can accomplish what tasks are before me. What do my movies indicate is my passion?

    1. The Outlaw Josey Wales
    2. Gladiator
    3. The Last of the Mohicans, followed closely by The Patriot


    • Mary DeMuth

      Well I certainly see a fighting/military thread there. But underneath that is a desire to right wrongs or move against an unfair system.

  • Allen Marsh

    Great post.
    Top Gun
    A River Runs Through It
    I think that finding our passions it vital to living a fulfilled life. I cannot imagine God telling his people to go forth and live a boring life! I think for me the common thread that runs through the movies is leadership and standing up for what is right even when it is hard. And A River Runs Through It happens to highlight a hobbie of mine that I love dearly, fly fishing. I really like the face book application of this. I think I will post this on mine and see what happens. This is part of the “risk!”

    • Mary DeMuth

      Yes, a huge risk, but well worth it.

  • Anonymous

    I tried in various formats to ask about the one thing and found that I got a variety of answers. i am not sure if it was becuase of the people I talked to and the context of their realtionship with me or what but I was able to distill the results to four areas:
    1. Equiper of people.
    2. Organzied
    3. Great listener.
    4. Trustworthy
    From my perspective I was hopeing that 1. was what came out of my discussions with folks, and I was not really surprised by 2 but I was comlpetely surprised and humbled by 3 and 4. It is facinating what you find out about how people see you when you talk to them. Thanks for the exercise.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Wow, how cool that your friends surprised you with “great listener” and “Trustworthy.”

  • Jerry and Kathie Thompson

    I had to think for several minutes as to favorites, I’ve enjoyed many but here’s three: The Blind Side; The Chronicles of Narnia and Out of Africa. Mary, I would so appreciate your insight. Kathie

    • Mary DeMuth

      You have individuals on teams or who need teams/community to have victory.

  • Wagner319

    My three movies are: One Night With the King, Titanic, and P.S. I Love You.
    I’m thinking the common thread is Love… ???

    • Mary DeMuth

      Unlikely/surprising/unexpected love.

  • shane Cooper

    My three favorite movies might be: Braveheart, Gladiator and Last of the Mohicans.

    Hmm, i think the common thread is not wearing pants.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Shane, you get five gold stars for that response! Let’s hope that’s not your passion!

      Certainly you have strong male characters standing up against injustice and prevailing.

  • Wendy Sue

    Thank you for sharing this post. I’ve actually been thinking about this lately. I would have to say my favorite movies are…
    Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman (yes – I know it’s a tv show)
    Welcome to Paradise
    Hidden Places
    Their is a tie for 4th…Fireproof & Facing the Giants
    to add a 5th one…The Wedding Planner (only because I truly love helping people plan their weddings)

    As for a common thread…no clue here. lol Any ideas?

    • Mary DeMuth

      I love Dr. Quinn! I haven’t seen any of the others, so it’s hard for me to say. In terms of Dr Quinn, you have a strong woman performing in a surprising role, one that people need, but not one society applauds.

  • tiger

    Gladiator, Romeo and Juliet (really just the scene where htey fall in love), My Fair Lady. Insights?

    • Mary DeMuth

      You’re a lover AND a fighter? :)

      The word the comes to mind is unconventional.

  • bethdeesb

    I love this but can’t figure out the passion. HELP!!!!

    Favorite movies are:

    Sound of Music
    Facing The Giants
    Coal Miner’s Daughter
    Calamity Jane
    Music Man

    Sorry couldn’t pick just 3 and even 7 was hard. I have my before I understood God’s love and grace list, and my after I understood list. I kind of combined the two list.

    • Mary DeMuth

      Wow, that’s a lot of movies. My hunch is maybe people who pursue one dream only to be wildly redirected.

  • Sheila Boggess

    Movies: Gone with the Wind, Amazing Grace, The Bucket List;
    Common thread: One person making a big difference in their world

  • colleen laquay urbaniuk

    my three favorite movies: rudy + facing the giants + fireproof = common thread-faith, overcoming obstacles despite how it looks or what the world tells you. i’ve never believed that people should listen to how the world defines them. i believe God has given each of us our own dream that we must live because if we don’t, we’re never really living.

    my passion is writing and encouraging. i started a blog last month – to try and live out that passion in a better way.

    the world’s greatest need? to believe that God is real and has a plan and a purpose for each life that only they can fill.

  • cheryl stahl

    my movies are flash of genius, charms of the easy life and station agent.

  • Thegoodtale

    A blessing for you and yours…The woman of Revelation 12 is now here… God is very precise: A woman delivers the true word John1:1, Rev 12:5, Rev 12:13 who restores Acts 3:21 all things to the world before Christ’s return. This woman exposes the lies of Satan who has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9. This woman creates a new thing in the earth by fulfilling God’s promise to Eve Gen 3:15, Jer 31:22, Isa 14:16. She is meek like unto Moses Num 12:3, she was raised up Acts 3:22 from the Laodicean church that becomes lukewarm because they refused to hear her Rev 3:14-17. She is also bold like Elijah Matt 17:11, her witness alone turns the hearts of the fathers to the children Mal 4:5-6 to prepare a people for the Lords return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord Matt 17:3, Luke 9:30. Moses and Elijah are together with the word Matt 17:3 they all three are in this one woman. Those who will not hear Acts 3:23 the true word of God now delivered to the world free of charge, as a witness, at the heel of time from the wilderness Rev 12:6 will not be allowed inside the walls of God’s coming kingdom from heaven Rev 21. This true word turns the hearts of the fathers to the children of God by giving the truth that not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5. God created evil Isa 45:7 to teach his children the knowledge of good and evil Rom 8:7, Gen 3:22 so that at their resurrection they become a god Matt 22:29-30, Ps 82:6. Prove all things. Be a workman that needeth not to be ashamed. You cannot rightly judge this unless you read all that has been written by this woman first Pro 18:13 check out the bruising of Satan.

  • Marny

    I think my three favourite movies would be Star Wars, American History X and The Notebook.

  • Bogdan Babalau

    This method is very very interesting. I have a personal blog and I post this idea there too, of course with the mention that is your not mine and with the specification of the source.

    I read your post almost every day since I found your blog and I learn a lot of things from you.

    I’ll be a part of Global Leadership Summit team from Romania and I aspect to hear and see you on the video from the Summit.

    Thank you for your posts!


  • David Alves

    Mary, this was an excellent post. I’ve already used it with our Lifegroup as a discussions starter and several lives have been positively impacted. I too have sharpened my focus. My 3 movies are: “Gathering Storm” ( 1930’s Winston Churchill), Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth edition), Band of Brothers. Given my background and history, my passion statement would be very close to yours.

    I haven’t gone through all 400+ of your comments but would LOVE to know what @MichaelHyatt:disqus shared were his favorite 3. Or perhaps a post by him inviting us to guess! That would be fun!

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  • Diane Rivers

    Wow, powerful post, @marydemuth! I went with:
    Get Low
    , Slingblade,
    The Blind Side
    I wouldn’t say these are my favorites of all time, just three that I
    have enjoyed immensely and I suppose that tells me something. The common thread was people whose value and worth
    are hidden because they have been stereotyped and discounted by others.
    Fits with the book I am writing about reclaiming the value of singleness.

    for the guest post!

    • Muttilein5

      I am at a point in my life where I truly desire to find and follow my Passion. Considerations now include job change as well. Thank you so much for this post. My movies would include: flash of genius, charms of the easy life and the station agent

  • Live4truth13

    Oh my, what a great post. I used to be passionate about a lot. But I’ve allowed doubt and fear to discourage me. Thought this was an interesting post…unfortunately I can’t think of one favorite movie. I have nothing.

  • Kiak

    What is the purpose of finding my passion? How important is it to find my passion? Are there perhaps better questions than ‘what is my passion?’

  • Mike Fairman

    I narrowed my three down to Fandango, Butch and Sundance, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. To me, the thread in these movies seems to be “buddies out having an adventure.” Which was exciting, because I have been incubating an entrepreneurial business idea involving planning out weekend adventures for families. I’ve been doing similar things for friends for several years already.

  • Mike Daniel

    Great article!! In coaching church leaders, we look for the overlap of gifts/skills, opportunity, & passion to help define personal ministry objectives. Of these, passion is often the least quantifiable.

    Thanks for the very practical ideas!

    ridiculously graced…

  • Saundra Dalton-Smith

    Love this post. Not sure if I’ll take the plunge and post the one thing question on FB, but considering it. My three favorite movies?? The first two came to me quickly: A Few Good Men and Independance Day. The third was a stuggle but the only other movie I’ve watched over and over is: One Night with the King. Very different movies so unsure of thier common theme??

  • Anonymous

    Step three: what you describe is how to identify your personal brand rather than your passion. Ideally these will align perfectly if you have been intentional about your personal brand. This isn’t always the case. Assuming they are the same is a mistake. I might be well known for doing great spreadsheets. This could be different to my passion for composing music which I spend every waking hour doing when not doing my spreadsheet job.

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  • Anonymous

    Great words to stir our hearts. My passion is to be an encourager. I enjoy allowing the light of Christ to shine through to those who might still be living in darkness. Ministry doesn’t only happen in the four walls of a church.God’s work happens all around us!

  • Mike Freestone

    How appropriate as we are in the graduation season. Great Guest-Post!

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  • Stephanie Hodges

    Great post – I think these 3 steps, especially the first, are excellent. The three-movie exercise is fun, and I need to think more about the meaning. My top 3 are Gladiator, The Godfather, and Walk the Line. I’m not a violent person, I promise. :) I think part of what I love is the epic story, including uncompromising love and redemption.

  • Melissa – Mel’s World

    What a fantastic post Mary! Thank you for sharing a piece of your dream with us and for also challenging us to get outside ourselves to find ours.

    There were so many things that you said that resonated so deeply with me, especially these two: 1) We are afraid to boast., 2) We’re extremely busy maintaining an overbooked life and don’t have time to reconsider why we’re working ourselves to death.

    I guess my three movies would be;

    * Pride & Prejudice

    * Little Women

    * Ever After

    PS – Don’t think I didn’t notice that all my movies are “chick flick” type movies either. What can I say, I love ministering, encouraging and caring for women.

    My passion is “Encouraging women to live with an authentic faith by being transparent, renewed and transformed.” (based off Romans 12:2)

  • Lisa

    I love this post…I have been thinking a lot about this…about finding my passion. Question two has my head spinning- My all time favorite movies are Dan in Real Life, Corinna, Corinna, Raising Helen and Patriot. I have never thought that my favorite movies all have a theme and all four of these movies have stories of kids who have lost their mothers. I am blown away by this, why have I never noticed this???

  • Carmadutra

    I’m not sure about my passion but my 3 favorite movies are The Firm, Beautiful Mind and The Patriot. There are a few things I could be passionate about but I haven’t resolved them in my own life yet.

  • Sheila

    Great exercise! My passion (which I wouldn’t have been able to identify otherwise): Helping people recognize God in the big and the little things of life.

  • MK Anders

    My three favorite movies are:

    Men of Honor

    Shawshank Redemption


    I could use some help here..



    ..but I think the common thread is overcoming insurmountable odds against you and the WILL to overcome and not give up HOPE. How can I translate that into what my passion is?

    (PS. I love/work in Television production.and have had to overcome many odds/obstacles to get here. But now, I’m ready for a new dream/goal… but I need help identifying my ‘thing’ or passion)

  • kmill6

    Manhattan, Terms of Endearment and Lost in Translation. hmmm, common thread?

  • Austin Roberts

    I love this blog post! These three steps really do work.

    I thought I would try out my three favorite movies:
    The Parent Trap
    The Last Song
    She’s the Man

    All three deal with finding your true identity in order to encompass inner harmony. I can clearly say that I live my life through inner harmony. In fact, finding more information about myself is what drives me in everyday life.

  • heather

    This might seem ridiculous, but what if you don’t have 3 favorite movies? I love this post by the way…and I truly wish 3 movies would pop into my head! I’ve seen many movies in my life , but the ones I enjoy, I enjoy equally. Does that make sense?

    I AM so “afraid to identify it”… Right on the money! Guess I’m left with posting THE question to Facebook.


  • Tabitha Ramos

    I really needed to read this…. Thank You so much for sharing this. I’m going to apply this asap!

  • Debi Stangeland

    This was a great post!  Thank you so much.  I’m starting my homework right now!! 

    My 3 favorite movies are: Legends of the Fall, Sound of Music and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  How’s that for wacky!

    I don’t really know what that means other than ADVENTURE!  Hmmmmmm……..

  • Jenn

    My three favorite movies: Chicago, Moulin Rouge, and Walk the Line. Can’t figure out how those movies relate to my passions. I’m a SAHM to 4 kids, not a performer.  

  • Erin OK

     Very rad, quick and remarkably insightful process!
    I think the world’s greatest need is for regular people to realize that they have the power to do extraordinary things, and that they should DO IT!

    The movies that popped into my head were High Fidelity, Harold & Maude, and Almost Famous.
    The common thread that stands out to me is: regular people doing RAD stuff! and, music!

    I’m not sure what people will say my one thing is, maybe music, or writing, or art, or honesty, or saying it like it is. 

    Well, I used to make music encouraging people to do rad stuff. I guess I should get back to doing that. Lately I am writing, and searching for my focus. This is inspiring! 

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  • Anonymous

    oh that movie question is going to take me a while.  perfectionist much?! surely THAT”S not my passion…
    I do love love Anne of green gables but the other 2 are eluding me.  gotta think on it…

  • Mike King

    Great post Michael — mine are  “Thomas Crown Affair”, “Italian Job”, and “Bourne Identity.”  One theme I see are smart people solving hard problems.

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  • Beck Gambill

    Wow! Amazing post. My favorite movies are Ever After: A Cinderella Story, To Kill a Mockingbird, Narnia. Common theme People who live with conviction and fight for what  they believe in.

    I’m an aspiring author and some days I think it’s silly to work so hard on something I love that may really never matter. I appreciated the encouragement and direction.

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  • Smmreid

    This is a great post. Trying hard not to think too hard about my top 3 movies.
    I’m going with

    The King’s speech,
    A Good Year
    You’ve got Mail.
    Connection? Leaving something secure to take on a new challenge? Humor. Surprised by new love is in 2 of them . Hmmmm.

  • Dawn

     It’s ironic, I had no idea what to expect when I saw the title of this post and after reading it’s exactly what I was hoping it would be. That is to say, sometimes we don’t know what we are looking for until we find it. Great post, I love it and I’m going to give it a try.

    For me it’s “Our insecurities define us more than our hidden, suppressed dreams.” that have slowed me down. Though I believe I know what my passion is, but I’m interested in what my 3 movies have in common if anyone would like to offer an opinion.

    Top 3 Movies:
    1. Lord of the Rings
    2. Seven
    3. Shawshank Redemption 

    These are the first that come to mind, but A Beautiful Mind, ranks quite high on the list too. Anyone?

  • coachswife04

    My three favorite movies are Gone with Wind, Say Anything, and Dangerous Minds.   

  • Jeremy Hermann

     Mary, can you help make sense of my 3 movie selections? 1.Big Fish 2. The Bourne Identity 3. Princess Bride. I graduated from seminary and just finished two years of vocational ministry and it feels like the passion is gone. I’m hoping God speaks through this post to restore my vision. Any help you can offer is appreciated!

  • Josh Hunt

     My one thing: writing Good Questions that have groups talking. 

    Great article by the way. 

    Josh Hunt

  • Nikki12184

    My three movie selections would have to be: The King’s Speech, I am Sam, and You’ve got mail. I’ve thought hard about it but can’t seem to find the common thread among the three. Any suggestions? Great article by the way. I have been struggling with this since I became a stay at home wife and mom. 

  • Megan

    3 favorites:

    Music & Lyrics
    Yes Man
    National Treasure
    and a 4th…Tommy Boy

    I’m passionate about helping people connect their head and heart to know & experience God’s love.  Not sure what else/how else that connects!

  • Shari

     This is so very interesting! I will have to try this on Facebook.  My favorites would have to be (1) To Kill a Mockingbird, (2) Secondhand Lions, (3) The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry and (3) Sound of Music.  I will really have to think long and hard about the common thread.

  • Brooke Cooney

    My passion is for myself and others to raise the risk and live out the life of Christ in specific ways that He outlines in the Bible.  My life mission is to bring the nations and the generations the gospel of Christ for the glory of God. Thank you for this great post! 

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  • Huntergrimm90

    I’m having a lot of trouble finding my passion. I’ve gone through lots of phases: Animation, drawing, skateboarding, rapping. But eventually I get bored of them. I like being creative and I’ve never really been able to label myself. I wish I had a mentor.

    • Alicha

      Most men do…wish for a mentor. And most don’t find one. Michael Hyatt has blogged about this, maybe try finding links about what he said. Pray and seek one out…In the meantime, know the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are more than enough…even when it doesn’t FEEL like it…KNOW it!

  • Scott McAlister

    There are a lot to choose from, but here is my narrowed down list: Secondhand Lions, Stand by Me, Sandlot (Follow Me Boys was close). Searching or needing a father figure seems to be the theme. My dad left when I was 5, so this is probably why these resonate so much for me.

  • Adonis Lenzy

    This was great. Totally appreciate you and your posts.

  • Geoff Talbot

    Thanks Mary,

    I love the idea of using movies to find your passion. I’ve never heard that before, but as a filmmaker I do understand that most of us agree that we make the “same” film over and over again… So my three favorite films are…

    Good Will Hunting
    Shawshank Redemption
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    I do believe this means I am passionate about Hope.

    Thanks again… great blog…


  • Bbhouse

    I want tohelp people young and  old to understand the Bible better whether it through making up search-a-word games, poetry, writing devotionals. Through my art also to draw people to God and the beauty that He has given us through colors and nature. Help those who are hurting somehow.  

  • Andrew Ervin

    My Favorite 3 movies are…

    1). Braveheart
    2). Shawshank Redmption
    3). Forrest Gump

    I’m having a hard time determining the common thread that runs through each of these. Any assitance would be greatly appreciated.Thanks!

    • Gail

      They are boy movies :)

    • Beth D.

      Those movies are about overcoming the odds, I think.  And each of the characters stands up for what they believe is right, without faltering.

  • Anonymous

    OK Mary, I told you at the OCCWF Conference after your session that I thought this 3 Movie exercise was dumb and I’d done this all before.

    But I admit publicly…you got me!

    When I came up with Dumb & Dumber, The Matrix and Documentaries — it hit me; people who are about discovering themselves and the world (or God).

    Love it – helps me focus more on my calling to help others know God more intimately as they discover themselves more deeply.

  • Kyn

    3 favorite movies:  Old Yeller, Shawshank Redemption & Tombstone.  A common thread to these movies….hmmm, let me think on that.  My true passion is to teach in the MOST EXCELLENT way.  Teaching and mentoring in our schools should be one and the same.  If you know me, reply back and tell me what you think “my passion,” “my thing” is.

  • Kevin Velasco

    Finding your passion is easy compared to pursuing your passion. Pursuing your passion requires mastery of the mind and mastery of Self. It’s a long-term commitment and a way of life. The rewards are well worth the sacrifice. Pursue your passion and let the chips fall into place!

  • Cassandra

    What happens when you are the kid at Valentine who has no Valentine cards in his/her sack at the end of the day?  The only thing worse would be 100,000 of those of people can see it. 

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  • Rajuncajun1960

    My favorite 3 movies are The Godfather (1 and 2) I consider them one movie.
    The original Planet of the Apes
    The Wizard of Oz.

    Now, what does that mean??? I want the power of a mobster, the ability to run naked with with the natives, and to fly like a winged monkey. Hmmmm. 

  • Renee

    Great post! I’m definitely going to try that “one thing”. Choosing only three movies is hard but I’d have to go with: 27 dresses, hidalgo and water for elephants. common thread? I have no clue!

  • Rhonda Monroe

    I loved this!  My 3 favorite movies are Tombstone, The Blind Side and Remember the Titans.  What is the common thread here?  I am trying to get up the guts for the Facebook thing. Thanks for these ideas!!

  • lost and confussed

    I found this article just in time.  I feel lost at the moment and am struggling to find something fulfilling.  My three favorite movies: Casablanca, Dirty Dancing, Wizard of Oz… I could use some help finding the common theme…

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  • Jeannette

    Interesting mode to arriving at your passion, my three movies have me stunned, Sound of Music, Crash and Sliding doors.Common thread anyone?


  • Christine Kenneally

    Great post. The three movies that came to my mind are Pretty Woman, Funny Girl and Wizard of Oz…would love to know how that relates to my passion.

  • Shari

    Developing women, in leadership & finding their voice.

  • Markfifa

    I only have Two favorite movies. Edward Scissorhands & Amelie. Common thread ..Love.

  • Alicha

    What a great post! Thanks Mary and thanks Michael for having her as your guest!

    The list, for me, was easy to make, the thread which linked them…not so much.
    The three movies top movies I could (and do) watch over and over are:

    1. Persuasion (the 1995 version taken directly from Jane Austen’s novel)
    2. The Winslow Boy (a fabulous screenplay)
    3. A Knight’s Tale (main character, the late Heath Ledger)

    Other than being excellently written, directed and acted, oh and apparently all British, there’s no similarity in plot or characters, they are all from different time periods and various economic backgrounds. So what unites them? I thought on it. And have come to realize something about myself in the process. AND THAT IS EXACTLY what Mary DeMuth was getting at, I believe. So I wrote my discoveries on my blog, and I’ll never lose sight of them!

    Thanks again, Mary!

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  • Beth D.

    Movies: Sound of Music; Princess Bride; The Day After Tomorrow.  It is really hard to pick that last one, as others have said.  I am intrigued by the love in each of these movies; loving with abandon; loving so much it hurts. “I died that day,” Buttercup says of the day she found out her man had died.  “I will find him,” Jack says of his son.

    I have always enjoyed teaching kids.  I thought for a long time that my passion was music and I went and got a music degree. But then I found out that I love teaching in any capacity.  Teaching children to love learning and just to offer acceptance to kids that get criticism and ridicule.  Or even teaching adults.

    I don’t know if that makes sense and I have struggled with fulfillment of this passion for teaching when I have no money to get my credential!  I teach at church, but I want to teach the lost that they are loved; to be that beacon of love and acceptance in a hurt world. 

     No, my life does not reflect my passion as I have been weighed heavily with earthly things: bills, hurtful relationships, money.  But I am intrigued to pray and pursue more and to use the talents God has given me for His Glory!

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  • JW

    Thank you, such a great post. My Favorite movies are Shaw shank Redemption, Pretty Woman and Step Up 2. The common thread are people who defied the odds and achieved their dreams.

  • Marshallkia

    My favorite 3 movies are Casino, A Beautiful Mind and American Beauty but I need help with finding the common thread.

  • Ben Carlson

    Matt Lossau ( ) pointed me to your post this morning; it’s wonderful, and just what I needed! I just posted the question “What is my ‘thing’?” to Facebook; I’ve been struggling on the periphery of my passion for years, I’m sure… I need to narrow my focus, and target it! Thanks Mary, very helpful, and inspiring!

    Oh, my movies are: Shawshank Redemption, Boiler Room, and Rounders. Gamblers and prison escapees, go figure. :)

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  • Ibajem86

    Id Like to know my common thread…
    1. Factory Girl
    2.  Moulin Rouge
    3. Pretty Woman

    They are all about women (hookers basically) who at one point get saved by a man. Kinda Fairy Taleish and I know I can be a bit unrealistic and live in a fantasy world.

  • Heidiburke

    V for Vendetta—Fight Club &  L.O.T.R – what is the common theme?

  • Heidiburke

    I wanna be free from the past and live in the now=)

  • Kim

    Great post.  I am so looking for a career change and trying to figure out my passion.  My three favorite movies that I could watch over and over again are….

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    Sabrina (1995 version with Harrison Ford)

    Wizard of Oz.

    Miracle on 34th Street – new version


  • Lsarkiss

    I found the post very enlightening, thank you!  When thinking of the top three movies, I named Pride and Prejudice and Gone With the Wind right away, had some trouble thinking of the absolute favorite third. After a while I just stopped on Something’s Gotta Give (an odd choice). As to the common thread, I’d appreciate any help I can get. I sort of see how they all involve strong female characters who are confident and independent, but how does that come close to my true passion? 

  • Annette

    P.S I love you, The Lake House and August Rush..common thread?  they are all sappy and make me cry?

  • Maureen

    My three favorite movies are: The Sound of Music, Gone with the Wind, and Fried Green Tomatoes. I think the common thread would be “strong women who disregard convention (or in the case of Maria vonTrapp, the “convent” as it were) to eventually define their own path”

  • Rico

    3 movies
    Mr. & Mrs. Smith
    Help on connecting the common thread ?
    (one I see – people having 2 identities, no idea how that helps me, unless I am going to become a super hero at night while working a day job.
    Please help….

  • Acar_mad2

    i like Pride and Prejudice, Avatar, The Notebook and Titanic is in there somewhere……how do these connect??

  • Karen4sue

    I believe the worlds greatest need is for every person to learn to hear and trust their own voice. And that they would know that their story matters! Matters to them and to this world.

    Thank you for helping me finally write my passion out!

    Karen E.

  • Melissa Shannon

    Amazing article…for my 3 favorites I would have to say Avatar is my favorite by far with The Notebook being 2nd and Definitely, Maybe being 3rd.  Not sure what the common thread is with these 3 movies.  I am going to try the Facebook posting as I would like to get “out of my box” and find my passion.  Thank you!

  • Cre8

    Hi, I need help with the common thread of these 3 movies:

    1. Goonies 2. Shawshank redemption 3. Almost Famous


  • Lisa

    Thank you for this post! I felt my heart race as I sent the ‘what is my one thing’ email. But wow, how free-ing!
    My movies are (embarrassingly enough), Harry Potter, I Love you Man, Circle of Friends. I think the thread has to do with accepting being different acheiving loyalty or acceptance. Strangely I don’t know how that aligns with my analysis of the world’s need to use our limited time on Earth to live life rather than simply survive.
    Any thoughts?

  • Cynthia

    Thanks for the article. My favorite 3 movies are Rocky, Stars Wars and Singing in the Rain…in looking at all three, I’d say heroes overcoming the odds thru perseverance is one of the main themes…I love heroes!

  • Pstreat

    Pursuit of Happiness, American Gangster,  Training Day.  Does anyone see any common theme here? Please help! Thanks

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  • Karen

    WOW, can’t believe how many times Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump were on people’s lists.  They are on mine as well, along with Pollyanna and Shenandoah.  Well, that’s four. One thread may be that they all are overcoming differences and difficulties while they are true to themselves and end up living in the light, so to speak.  Pollyanna is also about attitude.  I would love to be loved unconditionally by a man as Forrest Gump loved! Any other insight is welcome and helpful.  Thank You. 

  • Esther Sim

    Great article.

    My top three movies are: “Good Will Hunting”, “Pretty Woman”, and “Ocean’s Eleven”.  The top matching keywords/phrases I got from filling out the word doc. were:

    – Misunderstandings
    – Hidden Potential
    – Lack of opportunities transforming into destiny opportunities
    – Goodness and truth in the people/places you’d least expect it.

  • Mychal

    Hi: I just found your page.  Funny cause I needed some guidance.  My three favorite movies are White Christmas, Camelot and Star Trek,The Voyage Home.  I am not sure what the common thread is but I come up with Helping others, selfless love and undying friendship.  Not sure what that means in terms of passion, but there it is.  I guess it does kind of tie in with what I think the greatest needs are: Love, empathy and caring for others.  What do you think.

  • Christian

    my three favorite movies are Harry Potter, Twilight and Beastly, what does that tell me about my passion?

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  • Aydin Habibi

    Just got here. Great post. Thank you. My 3 top movies are:
    Lord of the Rings, Schindler’s List & Avatar. Mary, I would appreciate to hear your insights. :)

  • Narrow3011

    now i don’t know but see what it effects or not

  • Susan

    Jerry McGuire, Saving Private Ryan and Into the Wild. 

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  • Bethany Macklin

    I took Mary’s workshop last year @ Mt. Hermon on this topic, but couldn’t figure out the 1 thread(there were so many)…
    My 3 movies are:
    Sense & Sensibility (EmmaThompson version)
    Apollo 13
    Lord of the Rings or Secretariat (couldn’t choose)

  • Anonymous

    Great post here Mary. I tried the movie thing and I chose: The Red Violin, West Side Story and Anne of Green Gables. What they have in common? No idea. 

  • Jlaroche77

    My 3 movies are Amelie, Gladiator, a Very Long Engagement, what does this say about me???

  • Jenna Venker Weidenbenner

    My 3 movies are: The Princess Bride, Shakespeare in Love, and Alice-in-Wonderland — and I guess the common thread is that they all in some way deal with identity and the notion of overcoming obstacles to find who you really are.  

    This has borne out pretty well in my life since I’ve already had a number of career paths, several of which have helped others define their identities (teaching, youth ministry, career counseling).  Additionally, overcoming adversity in the past several years and researching/writing about identity development in my PhD work has helped me further uncover hidden aspects of my own identity.  I’m still struggling with this as I move into (hopefully) my final stage of the PhD process and trying to settle on a dissertation project that really speaks to me and engages my heart.

    In looking at my 3 movie selections, another common thread that relates to revealed identity is the notion that we have to take real risks — fight the ROUSes, step out on stage, follow the rabbit down the hole — in the journey towards becoming all we can be.  Sometimes we have to re-create ourselves and envision the world anew to truly find our place. 

  • Anonymous

    I like how identifying three movies -I suspects books work as well- can help you understand what is the common theme in your life. I find I like to learn, and help others to learn as well. We also wrote our review of what it takes to understand your passion, and thereby find meaningful work. I hope it’s motivating. – Erich

  • Sheri Bell

    My three fav movies: Love Actually, The Matrix, and The Chronicles of Riddick.

  • Trevski

    The 5 th element
    The last samurai
    50 first dates

    I’m lost stuck in a job I hate
    I read lots about actors and films
    I love drama but I’m 40 it’s too late

    And I don’t have the money to retrain
    Even if I knew

    Wondering if these movies give any clues

    • Rebecca A. Burgener

      Had to respond to the hopeless feeling you’re giving off.

      I’m not familiar with the 5th Element at all, but in your other two movie picks it would seem the character is refusing to give up even when the situation seems hopeless. They follow their heart-longing and grow from it.

      It doesn’t take money to “retrain” as in educate yourself. Make friends with the library and Google. It takes time and perseverance with a big dose of stubbornness. If you end up truly needing to invest in further education such as college, find a way. Single parents do it.

      Would you like to write about actors and films? The entertainment industry is huge.

      My old English teacher from high school retired in her sixties. Instead of sitting idle she now runs a drama group that regularly puts on plays with volunteer actors from the community. She loves what she does. I do believe she must be in her seventies now. Why lie down and quit? 40 is young!

      I am a writer. If writing makes things happen for you start using to figure out your dreams. Find the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and work your way through it.

      I explored my passions based on this article back in August on my blog. Maybe reading my thoughts will help you? You are welcome to take a look. I’m still figuring out how to make pursuing my passions work.

      But I won’t quit. I would jump off a cliff first.

      Maybe I’m young and full of crazy dreams. I’m only 28. You’re only forty. My teacher is only seventy-something.

      Go for it! I’m cheering for you.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Trevski, I’m sorry to hear that you feel stuck in your current situation.

      Yet at 40 you’re still young. You have plenty of time and potential left.

      Here are three things you could do –

      1. You can retrain without much cost. Get a library card and check out books on topics that interest you. Learn from what is written there.

      2. Use the resources that colleges provide online for free. Sites like The Great Courses – or MIT Opencourseware – provide excellent resources to learn.

      3. Find a mentor that is willing to take you under their wing. Offer to apprentice for free.

  • Claire_brks

    Mine were: Yes Man, Pineapple Express and The Hangover – I think the common thread is commedy.?? Anyone have an opinion?

  • Aquamorning

    You may have just given me the gift of a lifetime!  Thank you for giving me a new way of looking for my passion.  3 favorites  Pride and Prejudice, Anna and the King and Lord of the Rings. All three concern differing people accepting each other for a common good.

  • Alan Rothfuss

    Ok, here are mine: On Golden Pond, Field of Dreams and Sound of Music. I’ve come up with a  somewhat common thread, child parent(s) relationships repaired…but how that translates to career…I’m lost….

    • Joe Lalonde

      Hmmm… One thing I could see is a career in helping others repair their family relationships. Maybe a counselor, mentor, writer on the topic?

  • Steffany Perry

    Three favorite movies:

    August Rush
    You’ve Got Mail

    Not sure what the common thread is. Any ideas?

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  • Angela

    Ok, I was just wondering if anyone could help me with the “common thread” that run through each of my three movies:

    1) Ocean’s Eleven
    2) The Sound of Music
    3) The Matrix 

    Any ideas?

  • Ms Millie Miranda

    my three movies are,  drum roll please!  LOL  ok ok, Dirty Dancing, Ferris Beuller, and  Ghost Buster!  crazy mix i know,  let me take a shot of interpreting.  Easy and effortlessly, i am overcoming all of my imaginary ghost, so i can dance with joy when i am there.

  • Cherie

    This is an interesting way to identify what resonates…I think my three favorites would be 

    Fried Green Tomatoes
    Steel Magnolias
    To Kill a Mockingbird

    I’ll have to rewatch them and see if I can find the theme. Maybe helping and supporting others in overcoming adversity or isolation….doing the right thing, social cohesiveness, community….

    • Michele Cushatt

      I will be offline most of Friday, February 10 through Sunday, February 12 while I work on a project. If you need immediate assistance, please mark your message as URGENT or try me on my cell phone. Otherwise, I’ll reply to your email at the beginning of next week.

      Michele Cushatt
      (303) 517-6651

  • Bruszika

    Wow, man, this 3-movie exercise was a big hit for me! Such a simple but powerful, immediate tool! Great job! My movies were the Artist, the Godfather-series, and the Hours (I added Sense and Sensibility, Stranger by Fiction, and You’ve got mail, the but it really could be a long long list) and the underlying theme I think would be “accepting the change”. Loved this exercise, I am utterly grateful that you shared this. God bless you. Agnes

  • Maya D Gaddie

    I had a hard time choosing 3 and believing that they are my absolute favorites, so I added a 4th one for comparison. My four are The Sweetest Thing, Talk to Me, The Sound of Music and Eat, Pray Love. There are many others that I have really enjoyed, but if I had to watch a movie again right now and really enjoy it, those would be the 4. As far as similarities… When I think of the lead actor in the movie, they all come from a nontraditional background or have a story that would make for good conversation at a dinner party. They all also struggle to overcome in some way and they overcome that struggle and reach their ultimate goal. In the Sound of Musc and Talk to Me, it is to help others. In The Sweetest Thing and Eat, Pray, Love it is to help themselves achieve a full life and happiness. 

  • Serenity

    Just came across this article.  Was in need of such insight.  As for my 3 movies, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that my favorites are Legally Blonde, Clueless, and Mr and Mrs Smith.  I must admit that my like for the first two involved the fashion sense and quirkiness of the characters.  Plus, I do enjoy comedies.

  • Jenniferw

    Lion King, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, As Good As It Gets….common thread is the journey of self-discovery en route to becoming the “real” that you were intended to be…royal, fulfilled, able to give and receive love and, most of all, to find joy in true personal identity in spite of failures, others’ perceptions or expectations, and self-imposed limitations..

  • Ivan

    1. Shawshank Redemption
    2. No Country for Old Men
    3. Inception & Sixth Sense (can’t seperate the two)

    Any suggestions? 

  • Christine Steenster

    1. National Treasure
    2. Music Man
    3. Sound of Music

    I can’t find a theme here! Anyone care to take a guess?

  • Patsy Arthurs

    3 movies – interesting idea.  Mine are Romeo and Juliet, One Week and Sleepless in Seattle.  The common thread?  Following your heart.  Not as helpful as it sounds – what’s in my heart?

  • Suzanne Norman

    My three favorite movies are On The Waterfront, Tim, and Silas Marner…what common tread do you see?

  • Vividsplendiferous

    enchanted april the enchanted cottage 
    under the tuscan sun

    Unhappy women who were transformed by a house/beautiful place, simple work/rest.  They found out how to love, be beautiful, and be lovable.
    Thank you for this post.

  • Penney Woods

    My top three movies are Serendipity, City Slickers and You’ve got mail.  There are many movies that I love to watch and I take things from all of them.  These three are the ones I always seem drawn to when I need to feel better about life.

  • Stephen Savage

    I just love passion and i believe i have chased the wrong visions and i have now come to realize that my greatest Passion of all is Jesus Christ and my second Passion is Painting in the art form that is! Thank you for the wonderful exploration of my true self. My Favorite movies are “Amadaues”, “Fried Green Tomatos” and “Chariots of Fire”
    God Bless

  • GnarG

    The Game, Dumb and Dumber, and The Big Lebowski…  A person gets caught up in something much bigger than themselves, and it turns out to be other than it seems…  what does that mean?

  • Jennie

    My three favorite movies, without over thinking anything, were: The Newsies, Tombstone, and The Notebook.  

    I’m not sure if this means that I like to live in the past or what.  I am desperately trying to find my passion.  I feel like I am close, but I don’t let myself get there.  I guess my problems are deeper than I think.

  • Brianrabahy22

    Troy, Gladiator, Rocky Series. Whats my trend?

  • Palurister

    I like this post very much..and 3 movies..unable to draw out of them but still feel ther is something common in them…amazing… THE TROY, DA VINCI CODE, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS..can u help me with this…

  • JP Morgan Jr

    This whole thing about “finding your passion” is a bit misleading I think. The truth is most people who live passionate lives don’t search for their passion, find it and then start living it. It just doesn’t work like that.

    I think you are starting in the right place with listing interests, but I think the idea that one can actually live passionately by discovering something they are most interested in isn’t enough of the story.

    I gave a talk recently that explains my approach anyway…

    Would be cool to get your thoughts on it!

    – JP :o)

  • Iamasweetie

    I got a degree in Manufacturing Technology because I am excited at seeing raw materials being transformed into a usable product. However, to date, I have NEVER been hired full-time with benefits. Just hired, again, as a contract worker with GM as a Quality Supervisor and do not like it! Please help…

    If it adds some insight, my favorite movies are An Officer and a Gentleman, Aladdin and Chorus Line. Love to cook, clean, iron, sew, dance, sing, write poems, hike, bike, photography, listen to music… Have three kids who are college grads and gainfully employed and living in San Francisco, CA, Boston, MA and Philadelphia, PA… I am in Cleveland, OH and would love to be near them all or at least one of them.

    Your insight and suggestions would be most appreciated!

  • Dave Weber

    Finding my three favorite movies was tough, I have seen so many that I sincerely enjoyed.  I like action movies like Borne Identity, but that is not one I would watch over and over again.  Movies I would watch, and have watched, even with commercials, are Forrest Gump, Road House, Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, Forever Strong, Facing the Giants and Back to The Future.  Sorry for the extra movies, but in each one, the main character has to overcome tremendous odds.  They are “the little guy” facing overwhelming challenges to  emerge victorious.  They each fight their own inner demons while simultaneously and bravely take steps toward their ultimate goal/plan.  As they fight the adversary, they find their inner strength — God, the Force, Family or recognition that they are a good human being.  It is that inner strength that helps them accomplish so much, perhaps, even more than they ever thought possible.  I think what I like most is the character’s growth throughout the movie.

  • Rgodbee

    I need help figuring out what my three movies mean, please :). I loved Up, The Patriot (Mel Gibson), and Pay It Forward. Thanks for this article, by the way… very inspiring and helpful. I’m in the process of switching careers; serving others in an area in which I am passionate is the best way for me to serve the Lord. I just need to figure that out what that is first.

  • Kevin Velasco

    I came up with a series of questions designed to help with finding your passion. 

    Passion Questions?
    Your answers to the following questions will provide hints & indicators with where to start. Careful consideration, inner-reflection, group discussion, and coming up with your own questions is highly encouraged.

    What would you do all day, every day if you had all of the time, freedom, love, sex, money, power, and confidence in the world?

    What did your parents make you quit to focus on school?
    What did your parents make you give up because “there is no money to be made or future to be had with that”?
    What did your parents make you quit or give up because “that is too risky”?
    What have your friends suggested you do/attempt, but you made excuses not to?
    What is something you’ve reacted with, “I could never do that” but have yet to actually attempt?
    What did you dream about doing or becoming as a kid?
    What did you enjoy during childhood?
    What did you enjoy about your favorite classes?
    What have people complimented you on or thanked you for doing?

    What are your weaknesses?
    What are your strengths?
    What is a medium you use to creatively express yourself?
    What have you always wanted to do or experience?
    What topics do you spend hours reading websites, books, or blogs on?
    What activities cause you to get lost in the moment and lose track of time?
    What do you enjoy doing when you are in solitude?
    What do you currently wish of doing or becoming?
    What is on your “bucket list”?
    What do you tell people you’ll do “one day”?

    Other People
    What do you judge people for doing?
    What actions do people do that make you jealous?
    What do you enjoy doing with friends?
    What activities do you enjoy spectating?
    What do you want to talk about or share with others (but might not have anyone to talk to or share with)?
    What activities are your friends doing on Facebook that spark your interest?
    What do you find yourself frequently posting on Facebook to share with others?

    When you feel bored, what would you rather be doing (other than Facebooking)?W
    hat activities put you in a child-like state of mind?
    What do you enjoy doing as a form of self-therapy?
    What activities cause you to experience much joy and peace?
    What gives you a confidence/ego boost when you perform well at something?
    What gives you feelings of inspiration?

    For the entire article, check out:

  • Vroni

    Hi Michael, mine are:
    Last of the Mohicans

    Practical Magic


    I see this as – Outcasts who follow their heart to flow with life, the environment
    and trusting the Universe and coming from a place of love, and whom fight for
    truth and freedom….. whilst this reflect my passion in life, i can’t see how this can translate into what i could be doing in my life.

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  • Carl Charest

    Terry (movie about the life of Terry Fox)
    One Week
    Into the Wild

    I would say the common thread is people blindly going through life until dramatic events happened. The protagonists went from dreaming their lives to living their dreams.

    Being and living instead of doing and dying
    Experiencing painful and joyful moments though the adventures
    Getting out of the comfort zone
    Being awake and not sleeping

    Your comments are more than welcome.

  • mac

    the talented mr ripley, pride and prejudice and the fabulous baker boys.  i have yet to pin down the theme — any suggestions?

  • DavidShane

    What you believe to be the
    world’s greatest need?

    That people are given
    equal opportunity for a comfortable life and that we do this sustainably,
    protecting and nurturing our planet.

    3 Favourite movies

     1.       Shawshank redemption

    2.       Bucket List

    3.       Life as a house

  • Rporter813

    It would be nice to have a source of information/guidance that did not always ask for a sign-up for something in return…

  • Patch

    My three films were very difficult to figure out but I tried not to analyze it too much and came up with four.  Then I ranked them quickly and my top three we Bourne Identity, Bladerunner, and Highlander.

    Not sure what it all means but I am guessing a crusader overcoming the establishment and doing the right thing…

    Any thoughts/insights?

  • Kirsten

    My three movies were Shawshank Redemption, Field of Dreams, and Love Actually. I thought my common thread was not giving up hope, but from the comment you left below to a gentleman with two of the same movies as me, maybe the common thread is to dream big.

  • Kim

    I just found your site.  Googled how to discover your passion.  I’m seriously trying to discover mine.  So my favorite movies are:  Imitation of Life, Matrix, and Nothing to Lose.  They are all so different so the common thread totally eludes me.

    • JulieN

       I’ve only seen one of these movies (the Matrix), but the theme “Imitation of Life” screams out from that.

  • Fink38

    Well, since I looked into your site by googling “how to find your passion,” I would have to say that I don’t know my passion at this time.  I think where my interests meet the world’s greatest need is in the form of food and farming.  I have a keen interest in looking into the ramifications of factory farming, feeding GMO food to animals and people, and the effects of chemicals on the ground and food supply.  I am struggling with where to make a difference in that area.  I am currently a veterinarian, so I may be able to find something along the research lines with a company or learning institution.  Okay, so I rambled.  I have started a website putting the feelers out there on expressing my interests.

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  • Seena Saini

    my three movies are 1. Meet Joe black, Meet the parents, The Blind Side and some other comedy movies too, I feel I choose these movies as I loved the sound track to them and the story touched me deeply, it was emotional, the common thread through this is family and love and giving and giving hope …. As far as my career passion still struggling to see it in this thread, it would be good to hear from you, if you can see something i may not. thank you for sharing this story…

  • Corey

    Goodfellas, casino, the departed I know this sounds like I’m a criminal but I’m a good person I just happen to like those movies best. So what would my purpose be then?

  • Soulandsword165

    1. iron man movies
    2. mobile suit gundam movies
    3. dragon ball movies

    i love the hi-tech parts (iron man, gundam) and the perseverance parts (dragon ball)

  • JulieN

    Movies: Harold & Maude, Shy People, and maybe Billy Elliott? The common thread I saw in all of these was juxtaposition of clashing cultures. Have just posted on Facebook to see what happens there. And my opinion of the world’s greatest need? To get over our cultural differences & the restrictions they place upon us, to open up our minds to change, and stop wasting the planet’s resources (and each other!) Could be making progress…

  • Lesliee

    Lars and the Real Girl, Soapdish, Everything is Illuminated my 3 favorite movies. They all deal with unconventional families and the process of acceptance. WOW, this exercise has really hit a nerve. I am also going to try the facebook exercise. Thank you.

  • Bonnie

    I wonder if someone can help me figure out what my movie picks have in common:
    The Sound of Music, Gone With the Wind, and Casino.

  • JMoran

    Okay, I truly don’t think I am avoiding finding my passion.  You said to list 3 favorite movies.  I can’t even name 3 movies I have seen.  I enjoy them & remember parts, but name of the movie & actors/actresses name…not there.  Not sure that any of the ideas were much help to me.  Another question to ponder was/is:  if you could do anything in the world, what would you do?   Well, guess what, I am not sure how I would answer that either.

  • Marnie Swedberg

    Return to Me

    All have an awesome male hero who is truly chivalrous and each reminds me of God in his own way.

  • Gay Idle

     I have many favorites but the three that came to mind first were Pride and Prejudice,  I am Sam and Simon Birch.  At first that I couldn’t make a connection between the three, then it came to me…all about people finding their purpose, or perhaps their voice. What do you think, Mary? By the way, great post!

  • Bethany

    I attended your workshop on this at Mount Hermon and couldn’t figure out the common thread connecting my three movies, Pride & Prejudice, Lord of the Rings, French Kiss & Apollo 13 tie for third. And I’m not half the romantic I sound like, (just ask my hubby!), but I do love witty dialogue…

  • Courtney Crook

    My movies were all coming-of-age type movies…not sure what to make of that. What do you think?

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  • J D

    I have never been great at “picking favorites” so I had to go with gut instincts on the movies.  I listed them as: K-Pax, Phenomenon, and X2 (XMen).  I’m not sure about the common thread, and the first thing I think, is that they focus on individuals with extraordinary gifts who use them to help others.  I guess my problem with that is not being able to see any “extraordinary gift” in myself, which is part of the reason I found this page in search of way to find my passion.

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  • Pamela

    My 3 movies are:
    All Mine to Give
    Imitation of Life
    Lady Sings the Blues
    I believe the common thread is individuals who overcome life challenges.   As for asking my friends “what is my one thing”, I don’t think they would understand the question.  Can you elaborate more?  Thanks!

  • Gary

    My favorite movies are Mannequin…Miracle on 34th St (Both versions) and the Last Holiday…The only thing that I can relate to here is to follow the dreams, don’t give up…at least that’s what I can see…yet I feel that I still cannot find the ‘passion’ for me…thanks…Gary

  • Jpetrogolf

    My three favorite movies are – couples retreat, the newest (planet of the apes), and (the hangover) series.

  • Melda

    hi michael & mary..
    i’m melda, 24 years old.. i quit from my job as secretary (i’ve worked for 5 years for that position)
    i thought after i quit, i wanna have my own business about wedding organizer
    but it doesn’t run well as I expect.
    and right now I’m really confused about my passion. keep questioning my own self WHAT IS MY TRULY PASSION?

    well, my favourite is Goal, Transporter & Blue blood (tv series)

    can you help me to figure it out? 

    people say that we have to choose our own path though it’s maybe not the same as what Jesus want us to do, but He will guide us to His way, to a better plan.

    thank you Michael & Mary :) 

    email address:

  • Yatew

    My favorite movies are Harvey, Rear Window and Best in Show. Didn’t have much luck in Posting your question for me on Facebook

  • KB

    My favorite movies: Beginnings, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets’ Society…I think the theme has to do with identification of one’s passion as an exercise of breaking out of family constraints (or societally imposed constraints!)

  • SR

    Hmm. I guess I’m late to the game here. Three favorite movies: 1. Lost in Translation, 2. Memoirs of a Geisha. Third one is hard.  There are several that are close. 3. Nobody Knows. But it could also be Amelie, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Prestige, Farewell My Concubine, or Dune.

    The obvious common theme in these movies (the first three that is) is that they all involve Japan in some way. Other common themes?  They involve some form of enduring hardship, navigating unfamiliar territory and trying to understand oneself and one’s place in the world. I think.

    Not sure how this common thread relates to my passion, though.

  • JJM

    Hi everyone,  I just started as an IT auditor at a well-established international firm.  As one would believe, I should be very happy in what I do but in actual fact the contrary.  How sad is my life that I have to google “FINDING YOUR PASSION”.  I know I was placed on this earth to be exceptional and to achieve GREAT, I’m just not there … YET.

    The three movies that came up:
    1.  The Help
    2.  The Devil Wears Prada
    3.  Shame 

  • confusedlady

    What do you get from Hunger Games, Baby Momma, and Hairy Potter?

  • Lisa942

    My passion is marriage/family. I believe we can trace almost all of our societal ills back to 1. The degradation of men… More specifically husbands/fathers 2. The redefinition and “subjective” definitions of marriage and its role.

  • Sybryant09

    My favorite of all favorite movies is “Ever After”, then The Green Lantern, and Mirror has two faces. 

  • Ashia

    Michael, awesome post! My passion is genealogy. Loved the movie question – my top two movies are: Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter (I also like The Wood, The Whale Rider, and Love and Basketball). Anyways, the common thread is that the protagonists fight to save life, fights to be an ethical/moral being,  and while doing so finds family and friends. In regards to genealogy, genealogy has helped me find friends and family (living and deceased) and to save the life stories of some of my ancestors. 

  • punch

    I couldn’t decide what my favorite movies were- I love Its a Wonderful Life, and I love the singing scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding.  (bizarre).  SO I looked at movies I always watch- no matter how often- I always watch the Bournes, Shawshank, Green Mile, The Matrix…

    I am working on my own Happiness Project, and struggling to find my truest passion.  Any words of wisdom?  I’m feeling a little schizophrenic  :)

  • shimelis

    1. Dark Knight The Joker(Heath Ledger) I don’t have a plan I just do things, I am just like a dog chasing a car, i don’t know what to do with it if  I catch it.

    2. Fight Club NEVER BE COMPLETE (this is your life ending one minute at a time, go out and pursue your passion)

    3. Office (I would ask “would a stupid person do that?” if yes, I will not do it.

  • Elen Anais

    My 3 movies:
    He’s Just Not That into You, Chasing Amy, Deja Vu
    Not finding much of a thread

  • DWeb

    Michael, After careful consideration, I am ready to declare my 3 favorite movies. 

    1. Under the Tuscan Sun.
    2. Forest Gump.
    3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy– favorite is the Two Towers

    1. Each of the main characters had hard ship and heart ache that they were able to overcome.  They started over, Francis in Italy, Forest everywhere– but especially after coming home from Vietnam, Frodo and Sam on their adventure.
    2. Each of the main characters had many ongoing hardships that could have devastated them and stopped them in their tracks.  Francis both in the remodel of her home and in relationships. Forest in so many places– Vietnam, Shrimp Boat and of course, Jenny.  Frodo and Sam, well, virtually every scene.  But they all kept going and eventually had the success they were looking for.  It did not happen the way they expected, but none the less, success did happen. 
    3. Each main character owed much of their success to other trusted friends and they were more than willing to share that success and glory with those trusted friends.    Francis to the construction workers, towns people and her friends from America.  Forest to Bubba and his memory, Lt. Dan, Mama and Jenny.  Frodo and Sam to the fellowship.

     Ok, part two done.  I am still working on the worlds greatest need.   Perhaps it is forgiveness of self.  Getting over the past (failures, sins, hurts and even successes…) starting fresh and persevering or enduring to the end.  Overcoming what life throws at you.  Well how about that.  I think i just completed step 1.

    I have come to believe that my “One Thing” is helping others meet their dreams and goals.  I loved working in the treatment industry where I was part of helping addicts overcome both their addiction and their past.  I also enjoyed the mortgage business where I could help people meet their real estate/retirement dreams and goals.   I have tried insurance, but I do not like the chase.  I don’t have the energy to “go for it” as the industry requires to become successful– and I hate the phone.  Some would go for the mortgage/real estate business now vs. how it worked some years ago. 

    I have been unemployed for 2 years.  I fell and hurt my back, arm, leg, rib, ego and simply do not have that spark I had when I was younger.  Because of the residual pain, weight gain and (OK AGE) my energy level is low and my “gumption”  is even lower.  I tell my wife that my get up and go has got up and gone. 

    I am open to suggestions and look forward to your reply.

  • Tuhendu Das

    sir, what you have written is awesome,3rd point understood and i can do but please specify 1st and 2nd more wisely understood where i can implement?

  • Cathy Wells

    I commend you on reflecting on God. Not many people do. My three movies are Silence of the Lambs Pretty Woman and The Green Mile. I am stuggling with a decison that may affect the rest of my life and someone brought up what is your passion. Quite frankly I never thought about it. Liked your thought process. Will give it a try.


    My three favorite movies are splash the natural and the good witch.

  • Susan

    Very helpful! To answer what I thought was the world’s greatest need, I thought… love. The bible kind. Patient, honest, kind and giving. It is no wonder that my three movies were…
    Just Go With It
    50 First Dates
    Cold Mountain (book was better than movie)

  • rogersguenole1

    Great site to stumble upon. Finding my lifes passion has been a frustrating thing to do. Fave 3 movies are Stargate, The day after Tomorrow and Open Range. Not sure of common thread….HELP

  • Abdullahhammam95

    It is the thing that you would spend hours doing and never get bored

  • Bobby

    Inception, Fight Club, and the Dark Knight….having a hard timing connecting them. Thoughts?

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  • Mdperry3

    Braveheart, Castaway, Lord of the rings…  how do these connect?  

  • Richard Hanley Jr.
  • Jason

    Absolutely simple, but extremely difficult. It seems very obvious to me when reading about Passion, but as I sit here with a yellow pad, questions listed and unanswered, my short-term goals are very vague. Perhaps I need to figure out those before figuring out my long-term. Thank you, indeed, for a thought provoking post.

  • Dorian


    Thanks Mary for your God inspiring post.  I spent the entire day trying to discover my passion in life. I visited many websites and I concluded with this one for today.  I never heard of the 3 Movie exercise before.  I believe a light bulb came on when I started thinking about my results.  After thinking, I came up with the Matrix, Avatar and Gladiator.  My next step is to evaluae the common thread in them.  Thanks.

  • Geishara77

    Something’s gotta give, million dollar baby, dune!

  • Judysm52

    I was on line previewing John Maxwells new book about Growth. Then I stared thinking how do I figure out what my passion would be. I googled and ended up here. My 3 movies are julia and julie, Return to Me, Father of the bride I & 2. So there you go

  • Lis

    I found this just now, But I find it very helpful. My three movies are:

    La vita ‘e bella – Roberto Benigni
    The Pursuit of happiness
    Legally Blonde – This sounds a little shallow but I always remember the scene where Reese Whiterspoon speaks to a very  educated audience and encourages people to speak up, no matter what their problem is.

    If you can help me with the thread, I will appreciate it!


  • Goodworkstuff

    Wow, those 8 reasons I don’t know my passion, really apply to my life.

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  • Shirley Schild

    So I am thinking, pathetic that I have to Google “what is my passion in life” because I feel that I really don’t know who I am anymore. At 40 I just assumed I would be better in tuned with my sense of self.  In my younger 20’s I would have told you that I was going to be a song writer, definitely. Now in my 40’s I haven’t written in 10 years, at best.
    I thought I would try out you exercise and see if I can  pin down what has eluded me for 10 plus years.
    My favorite movies are “Pride and Prejudice” the most recent with Kiera Knightley and “City of Angels” with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage; I am not sure if the third is my favorite, but it moved me in a way no movie has, “Les Miserables” not the one with English speaking actors,  but the one with subtitles. I have only watched it twice, which dulls in comparison with the number of times I have watched the other two, but it was so powerful.

    Curious to know what that says of me.

  • Michael Nelson

    My three movies are Forest Gump, Any Given Sunday, and Friday. The commonality i see is that they all have a underdog story. Someone that didnt go looking for Triumph because they were counted out or over looked from the start but when forced into the situation found it anyway exceeding primary expectations.

  • Dianacarolina R

    Thank you. X

  • Jmlungaro

    After reading your article I have determined that my passion in life is to Love. But I am not sure  what I am supposed to do with that information.

  • Christa

    Yikes. I just mentally listed off my fave movies and came up with Julie & Julia, Mrs. Arris Goes to Paris, and UP. hmph…

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  • Gazingupwards

    My movies are; The Greenmile, Cocoon, and Twilight Zone The Movie.. there were others but these were the first three I thought of.. They are all wierd, amazing, and moving??  My passion would be to amaze and move people in some wierd sort of way I suppose? lol  I’m not sure what that means… possibly stand up comedy?? I will have to look a little deeper than that, but I’m happy that I came to this page and it got me thinking a little differently.

  • Daniella

    A New World



    Though, i can’t really think how the movie ‘Snatch’ fits in the other two?
    That question “what’s my one thing” – I don’t think it’s vert clear to ask my friends, could you re-phrase that question, please?

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  • Lisa

    my favourite three movies are GI Jane, Domino, and Water.
    All three are about women overcoming barriers/stereotypes, pursuing their dreams/goals despite what is the norm.
    Not sure what to do with that yet….

  • SP Hawk

    Movies: The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), White Christmas (1954).
    Common thread: Be true to your core.
    Some excitement, feeling of relief…until I ask “How does being true to my core intersect with the world’s greatest need(s)?”, followed by: “Waht passion(s) is/are in my core, that I should be true to?”, and the wretched practical question: “How could intersecting my core passion(s) with the world’s greatest need(s) pay the mortgage/taxes/food/clothing/utilities/HVAC/transport?” (At which point I start crying, because I KNOW the answer is OBEDIENCE, TRUST and FAITH: the first two words being those which trigger gut-shaking fear, and the third triggering grief for my lack of it.)

  • heather brooks

    I guess I’m super late to the game. So, my 3 favorite movies: Pride and Prejudice(Keira Knightley) Calamity Jane and Pretty Woman.

  • Anon

    For me: Home Alone, Anaconda, Ten Commandments. I have watched each of these at least twice.

  • KnowledgeAbsorbed

    My three favorite movies are:

    1.) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
    2.) The Lion King
    3.) National Treasure

    The common thread that they all share? Hmm…well, its taking me some time to think about it, but I have a general idea. I think they all involve characters going on a journey to answer a question or discover the truth, either about themselves or about something else.

  • Vanessa626

    Very Interesting… my fave movies are The Notebook, Twighlight and I’ll do anything (with Matt Hobbs)… I think love is the common thread but not sure hmmmmm?


    My three movies: Gone with the Wind, Steel Magnolias, Titanic. Do I see a theme here?…. strong women , who maybe don’t recognize their strengths, but face their struggles head-on & do what has to be done, to survive.

  • Guest

    My 3 movies: Gone With the Wind, Titanic & Steel Magnolias…. A Theme: Strong women who maybe don’t recognize their strengths, but just do what has to be done to survive.

  • Laura

    Mine were Shawshank (funny how its so many people’s favorite), The Science of Sleep and Kung Fu (a Chinese comedy not sure if you know it). Shawshank and Kung Fu seem to be about average people who become capable of doing great things in the face of adversity. not sure about how the science of sleep ties in. something about the overlap of reality and dreams?

  • NYImpact414

    My three movies are: The Blind Side, Wall-E and We are Marshall.

  • Rasmus

    Into the Wild, City off angels, management.

  • pippachylde

    I’m 2 years too late it seems. But my favourite three movies are: Dirty Dancing, The Neverending Story and The Legend of Billie Jean. Watched these as a kid and they all stuck with me over the years….

  • gnd

    My favourite movies are 100 hours, Hadewijch and the virgin suicides.. With this choices I find it very difficult to find my passion.

  • Confused

    1. P.S. I Love You
    2. 50 First Dates
    3. The Wedding Singer

    What do my movies say about me? Love conquers all? But what does this mean to me? Still working on my passion….

  • AJ

    Hi….the three movies I came up with are….What girls learn, The boy with the striped pajamas and Titanic!! I’m struggling trying to find the common threads tho

  • Charlie

    Roman Holiday, Before Sunrise and Annie.

  • Christoski

    so I have three favorite movies and a very close 4th. I’m not sure the common thread though(?). The Jerk, Dumb and Dumber and Gladiator. The 4th, which is always on my top choices, is Being there.

  • still looking

    My fav movies are Up and Limitless.

  • Dr Swag


  • Dr Swag


  • Bryan

    My three movies are The Lion King, The Dark Knight Rises, and either Idiocracy or Crash. What do they have in common lol?

  • Guest

    My favorites are, Its a wonderful life, Sabrina, and my man Godfrey. In thee end I think the common thread is, Love is always the answer. Any other ideas?

  • Penny L Johnson

    the task looming in my near horizon is to complete a scholarship essay on topic, “tell us about your passion.” my cluelessness led me to and i have found some clues to guide me; thank you very much. my top three movies include Sky High, Sound of Music, Master and Commander. possible thread? discovering and using personal character against inner opposition.

  • Cindy

    Sound of Music, Yours,Mine and Ours, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I love seeing the differences in individuals and how we can help others achieve their goals even if it’s against the norm. I have five children that I home schooled all the way through. It was an interesting post. Thanks.

  • Jose Risueno

    I found your advice more helpful than any other.Thanks.

  • Pratik [ INDIA]

    Hi, I just Seen this Post, Like it. I am from India.

    Movie List:

    1. 3 Idiot (Full movie)

    2. jo jeeta wohi sikandar ( Ending Part )

    3. the pursuit of happiness (Somewhat)

    From this List, I identify that i like motivational movies, To achieve something in Life.

    But really i am not able to identify my actually Passion.

    There are two things in Life Attraction and Love … If we see something we feel

    Yes I will do this thing then we feel no it is not my desire. How to find our Actual desire

    in life.. Very confusing thing.. Looks like all Law of Attraction.

    I am Computer Software Engineer I was doing Job Good Salary, But i feel that I want to

    do Master Study so, I leave Job and Doing preparation of Study..

    Then feeling that in Future i will make some Worlds bes Software product and

    will start my Company….

    Dont know…. I thinik No one will be sure regarding their future,

    We need to connect Dots from our Past…

    But Still not clear What is my Exact Passion… :-)

  • Edward Meyers

    My passion is working dogs (Police K9/Sport). As a Christian I have a hard time internally with this. I feel that my passion should be Christ and living a Christ like life. I have a hard time justifying the time, energy, and money that I put into my “dog life”. I try to understand how I can let these endeavors glorify God but simply don’t. Any advice?

    • AJ

      Being passionate about Christ and living a Christ like life doesn’t mean that we all have to be pastors or church leaders. His command is that we love God with all our heart and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves. As long as your “dog life” is not something you worship over God, He doesn’t have a problem with that. In fact, God needs for Christ minded people to be in the marketplace demonstrating who He is.

      Christ’s disciples all had vocations. True they left them to follow him, but if you read in scripture (Luke 22:35-36), He had them to return to them. I believe this time was to get their hearts and minds right, so that when they went back to their profession, they would do so knowing that He was their Source and not their vocations.

      Again, nothing should take the place of God in your life, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a passion for other things as well.

  • Donna Cates

    Gone With the Wind, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Miracle on 34th Street. Common thread would maybe be optimism in the face of adversity? Believing in the positives?

  • Tenzin

    Hello Micheal,
    I réally want to know my passion. I went through your text.. but I didn’t understand well about the movie. Like me I like the movie such as The Hobbit, Harry Potter,the journey to the moon.. can u please help me what is my passion? I m currently studies in commerce school but I didn’t know is this really success my life ?? hope u will send me reply on my Email Thanks

  • suzanne robertson

    I am really struggling. My favorite movie is Seabiscuit, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Edge. I don’t see anything common in these. I love Seabiscuit because the story is circular and all the element come together. I love Mockingbird because I want to be Scout and have Atticus for a father. And I love The Edge because I love the beauty of Alaska and the escape from danger. What am I missing???

  • tammajenna

    I think the thing the world needs most is money. I would do anything besides hurt others to get some. I wouldn’t care what the job was, I really have no interests other than money. I say this because it sucks to be broke. I used to be a dancer, I loved it so much. When it was over I got lost and became poor. My favorite movies: Hard Rain, The Green Mile, Saving Private Ryan. I don’t see the connection though.

  • Tim Brown

    Michael, I hope you remember me. I am the guy that spoke to you not long ago about my book I am currently trying to publish called God Still Speaks: The Miracle at Fall Creek Falls.

    I wanted to ask you, do you think that building a platform and offering products, and monetizing, would work for someone who’s passion is ministry and helping others live the abundant life (free from the past, addiction, pain, etc. that keeps us from living in the fullness of God’s divine destiny for us)? I struggle between having a passion that classically is not something you can “monetize,” and having an income to provide for my family. Is my niche the proverbial rock and a hard place, or do you see this core message as something that a platform could be built around?

    • Michael Hyatt

      It’s hard to say, Tim. It really depends on what you plan to offer of value.

      • Tim Brown

        Thank you for your reply. The value I see is that everything God showed my wife and I has great value for others too. Learning how to hear God’s voice in your life and experience Him day to day, learning how to live with a whole heart from God, free from the pain of the past, addictions, and other limiting factors that keep us from walking in the abundant life that Jesus talked about, navigating the waters of tragedy and overcoming grief to once again mount up with hope and a future, how marriages and families can not only survive in the face of loss, but thrive (again the 85% divorce rate for people within our “statistic”), and. on.

        So far these things have been contained in my first two books, God Still Speaks: The Miracle at Fall Creek Falls, and A Faith That Moves Mountains: What Happens When Faith Finds the Miraculous. But I could see many ancillary things associated with this that could be offered to a platform. Like my wife and I thought about writing a book for married couples who have children with TBI, called Grieving the Child You Never Lost.

        There are other things. But I appreciate your advice and taking the time to speak with me. Blessings.

      • Tim Brown

        Thank you for your reply. The value I see is that everything God showed my wife and I has great value for others too. Learning how to hear God’s voice in your life and experience Him day to day, learning how to live with a whole heart from God, free from the pain of the past, addictions, and other limiting factors that keep us from walking in the abundant life that Jesus talked about, navigating the waters of tragedy and overcoming grief to once again mount up with hope and a future, how marriages and families can not only survive in the face of loss, but thrive (again the 85% divorce rate for people within our “statistic”), and. on.

        So far these things have been contained in my first two books, God Still Speaks: The Miracle at Fall Creek Falls, and A Faith That Moves Mountains: What Happens When Faith Finds the Miraculous. But I could see many ancillary things associated with this that could be offered to a platform. Like my wife and I thought about writing a book for married couples who have children with TBI, called Grieving the Child You Never Lost.

        There are other things. But I appreciate your advice and taking the time to speak with me. Blessings.

  • Christopher Leo Lazzaro

    Just found you yesterday when searching leadership podcasts. So far what I’ve listened to and read are great. This article in particular was fun and right now I’m trying to determine whats common among my favorites.
    1. Once Upon a time in the West
    2. The Royal Tenenbaums
    3. Fifth Element

  • Crystal

    Well my favorite movies are Gremlins, Ghostbusters, and Emperors New Groove… Those are the first three that came to mind – although I have several I like.

  • Brian

    3 movie exercise:

    Big Fish

    Lord of the Rings

    A Perfect World

  • Christine

    Went one step further, four favorite movies: Master and Commander; The Guns of Navarone, Harry Potter and the Scorcer’s Stone, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Common thread: Good triumphs over evil/bad. I liked this little test; it is my passion! This has me thinking differently now about my life’s plan. Thank you!

  • Hailey

    My three movies are:
    – Atonement
    – Thirteen
    – Wizard of Oz

    Does anyone see the common thread that runs through these?

  • Rita

    Favorite movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, Something the Lord Made, and either Schindler’s List or Le Chambon: La Colline Aux Enfants

  • Angela Ford

    Excellent post and quite inspiring, I tend to have a touch time finding my passions and identifying them out of the list of things people “think” I should do. I love that you listed your top 3 movies, our first 2 overlap!

  • Kristen

    How can I revise the question “what is my one thing” and warrant the same necessary responses? Help please. ..

  • Traci Lawrence

    Thanks so much for your post, Ms. DeMuth! What an inspiration! Brief, yet informational! I was so inspired that I referred to your post in my guest blog post on If you’re interested, please find my post here: Thanks so much!

  • Alena@TheHomemadeCreative

    So, should I be concerned that the movies that come to mind right off for me include Memoirs Of A Geisha and Moulin Rouge??? #shouldilaughorcry

  • Michael

    My would be four Green mile, Cast away, Lord of the ring, Forrest Gump so revealing.

  • Lacey

    My favorite movies are Something New, The Saint and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series…I guess the common theme is finding love and getting “unstuck” in life…but how does that translate into a career?

  • Dianna Foster Armstrong

    I truly love assisting others find their hidden talent or skill. Particularly the perceived under dogs( once one myself) to find their talent and impact others. I think I always knew my passion, but read your post. You helped me confirm my next steps . you really helped me this morning !thanks

  • L

    I am totally battling with this passion thing right now. I’ve had 2 or 3 jobs consistently since the age of 14 (now 26). I have a zillion business ideas and love all forms of art; but, I’m so lost. My three movies are Beauty & The Beast, The Count of Monte Cristo (Jim Caviezel), and Eat, Pray, Love.

  • divineartistry1976 .

    The Color Purple, The Wizard of Oz, and The Croods

  • Leong Joey

    Mine is the three idiots, how to train your dragon 2 and rise of the planet of the apes