Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Can passion be taught?"


From an interview with Ferdinand Metz:

"So, I would say those are the three components: basic understanding, passion, and balance."

Metz was talking about culinary education, but as I read the interview it struck me as sounding a lot like any education that is leading to high performance, like, for example, orienteering.

The entire interview is quite interesting (it is in the latter parts of Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef), but I was particularly interested in Metz' comments on passion. "Passion" is analogous to the drive, the motivation, that orienteers need to be their best. It might be the difference between the top juniors who stick with it and go on to better results and the top juniors who drift out of the sport.

I've got some theories about how to create, or maybe just unleash, some of the drive/motivation/passion (long time readers might recall my theory of being able to "tell your story."). I was particularly interested when the Metz interview included this exchange:

"On top of it, the one word, again, is passion. Seeking more knowledge each and every day, doing more things each and every day."


"Can passion be taught?" I [Ruhlman] asked Metz.

"Yes," he said. "By example. Not by talking about it. By example. Absolutely. If the stdents are involved with a teacher who, when he or she talks about a fresh herb and what that means, and begins to become excited by this silly little fresh herb, that's passion. If they see that that person, being more mature and more experienced, still gets enjoyment by being able to focus on that, understanding and appreciating the difference that makes in his or her cooking, I think, yeah, by example it can be learned."

When I read that passage from the Metz interview, I immediately thought about how motivating it has been to be around really good orienteers and see their "passion." I still have a very strong memory of running with the great Swiss orienteer, Dieter Wolfe, on a map just outside of Kansas City. It must have been in 1983 or so. I felt a bit disappointed to have to show him our less-than-impressive terrain. But, as soon as he came out of the (thick) forest, he was all smiles, saying "that was really fun." Here was a great orienteer, bashing around in crappy forest and uninteresting terrain, but having fun because...well, because it was orienteering and he had the passion that Metz talks about.

posted by Michael | 9:06 PM


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