Jessica SieffI am a big fan of The Huffington Post’s list of “Game Changers.” Each year, the editors at the online news site pull together a list of influentials in categories of our culture and society such as education, business, food and media.

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Jessica Sieff: The drive to find what drives me

Published 9:43pm Thursday, September 30, 2010

Through their list, there are often obscure faces to be discovered: those who don’t always make the front pages of national news (until eventually they do) and those people who you may have heard of and maybe not but their mark on their place in life is undeniable.

It’s inspiring really, to hear stories about people with such a passion for what they do that their work becomes bigger than themselves.

As I clicked through each category, I found myself inspired by Michelle Rhee, chancellor of Washington, D.C., schools who is getting attention for her tough stand on education reform.

For some of us, we can remember detailed aspects of our education as children.

We can remember the books that changed us, or the way it felt to get our handwriting just right, the accomplishment in a math problem solved or the short story that sparked previously unknown realms of our imagination.

It’s hard to find that magic these days, wading through all of the unfortunate business that’s tied to our education system as a whole.

To read about Rhee, who is demanding not a better school system or better administrators but the absolute best is refreshing.

Among the politicians and the technological masterminds there’s even a food category with a couple of recognizables, Tom Colicchio and Anthony Bourdain, but also Sam Calagione, CEO of Dogfish Head Brewery.

What got me about Calagione was the mention that he has “tested 2,700-year-old Egyptian clay vessels to recreate ancient beer recipes.”

That’s not just trying to make a good product. That’s a passion for what you’re doing.

Tyler Bule is another on the list, a former war correspondent who, after being attacked, became a definitive voice in the game of world travel. Because he wanted to see the world.

These are people who have a passion. A couple of months ago, I received a letter from a prominent member of the community who said my writing was a little different when I wrote about something of which I was passionate.

And truth be told, it got me thinking … because to be honest, I thought to myself, what am I passionate about?

And the answer didn’t come easily.

Sure there are the obvious initial responses: journalism, family, friends … but what about that one something that makes one want to move forward, break boundaries, change things?

It’s a question that I ask myself every day now. And I keep asking because I can at the very least say, I am passionate about finding out what drives me.

Game changers can take any form. They can be the teacher that pushes you further than you’ve ever gone, the chef that lets you create and experiment; they can be the ones who flip our social consciousness on its side or change the way we govern or create or lead.

And they can be the husbands who define the wives, the wives who change the husbands, the mothers and the fathers who inspire, the babies who come about and create a family.

It comes down to a passion for what you do, for who you are.

That’s when the game you change — just might be your own.

Jessica Sieff reports for the Niles Daily Star. Reach her at

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