How do you know if finding your passion is achievable? Will you love what you are doing? But wait a minute. Nothing is that simple is it?
Check out our thoughts on team leverage.
Check out what Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, tells us:
” One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don’t choose your passions. Your love chooses you”.
Are you continuously working to find what you love to do? Perhaps starting with your personal development? An excellent idea these days … where to change is the name of the game. Aim high. Explore. Stretch your boundaries. Let yourself fail some. But be sure and put learning in your skill bag.
An experiment gone wrong doesn’t have to mean someone goofed. In a culture of growth, it should say that you tried something new, measured the results, and learned that the change didn’t help the bottom line. If your tests are always successful, you’re probably not testing often enough or aggressively enough.
Still, it’s important that failures, like testing itself, be directed and carefully measured. Before you start issuing a quarterly failure report, make sure you’ve trained everyone on best practices for driving growth through testing and experimentation. You should have clear, repeatable frameworks and methodologies for testing that everyone can (and does) follow.
All of these are useful to remember for growing knowledge of your enablers for success. Enablers for success that are essential for your personal and professional development and in doing what you love.
We are all aware of Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech given in 2005, where he talks about doing what you love. It is an excellent discussion on this subject. He encourages his student audience to keep looking and don’t settle. Jobs goes on to say as with all matters of the heart; you’ll know when you find it. Ah, but finding it.
To do something well, you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We’ve got it down to four words: “Do what you love.” But it’s not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated. And often unattainable for some.
I recently read an interesting book on the topic of how to find what you love to do. The book is by Cal Newport: So Good They Can’t Ignore You. The themes in Newport’s book are bound by a common thread: the importance of ability. His thesis is that the things that do a great job great are rare and valuable.
If you want them in your working life, you need something rare and valuable to offer in return. In other words, you need to be good at something before you can expect the job that you love.
Mastery by itself is not enough to guarantee your enjoyment and satisfaction: The many examples of well-respected but miserable workaholics support this claim.
The main thread of the argument moves beyond the mere acquisition of useful skills and into the subtle art of investing career capital into the right types of working life traits. The path to what you love – at least as it concerns what you do for a living – is more complicated than simply answering the classic question “What should I do with my life?”
So here is the kicker from this book: when it comes to creating work you love, following your passion is not particularly useful advice. In fact, it is seriously flawed. It not only fails to describe how most people end up with compelling careers but for many people, it can make things worse: leading to constant job shifting and unrelenting angst.
“Follow your passion” might just be the worst possible advice. OK then, what should you do instead? Don’t follow your passion; rather, let it support you in your quest to become so good that they can’t ignore you.
Move your focus away from finding the right work, toward building your skills and expertise in what you do, and then eventually develop a love for what you do.
If a young Steve Jobs had taken his advice and decided only to pursue work he loved, we would probably have been one of the Los Altos Zen Center’s most popular teachers. But he didn’t follow this simple advice.
Apple Computer was decidedly not born out of passion, but instead was the result of a lucky break – a “small-time” scheme that unexpectedly took off. Probably works that way for a significant percentage of us, doesn’t it?
Think of it in another way: The most likely predictor of someone seeing their job as a calling is the number of years spent on the job. The more experience they have, the more skills and expertise they have developed and the likely they are to love their work.
The happiest, most passionate employees are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead, those who have been around long enough to become good at what they do.
Newport points out that motivation requires that you fulfill three basic psychological needs:
Autonomy: the feeling that you have control over your day, and that your actions are important
Competence: the belief that you are good at what you do
Relatedness: the sense of connection to other people He introduces the craftsman mindset which is based what you can offer to others.
This mindset asks you to leave behind self-centered concerns about whether your job is “just right.” Instead, put your head down and plug away at getting great at what you do and contribute.
Regardless of what you do for a living, approach your work like a real performer. Adopt the craftsman mindset first, and then the passion follows.
But some people love what they are doing. I certainly do. Many people will try to tell you: “This passion stuff is BS,” “There’s no such thing as passion,” “passion is a myth that gets in the way of a successful business,” etc.
These are tragic cases of people who have never had the experiencing of genuinely loving what they do.
Sadly, many people are living like this. Why? I think that it’s because many are slaves to society, participants in an endless materialistic rat race. These are the same people who alternate between being all day in a cubicle and watching TV at home, slowly amusing themselves to death.
On the other hand, you talk to a Millenial and “finding their passions” is central in their minds. That’s because this new generation is getting wiser, and wants to live differently.
Finding your passion
If you haven’t found your passion yet, get up off your butt and make a change in your life. Travel the world. Try new activities and jobs. Meet new people. Learn a new language. Learn a new form of art or an instrument. It’s a long journey to find your passion, but the first thing you need to do is step out of your comfort zone.
Now let’s clarify the difference between passion and strength.
Passion is “An intense desire or enthusiasm for something.”
This means that although you may be passionate about something, you may not be good at doing it yourself. For example, I have a passion for Japanese anime. But I can’t draw it, animate it, or even understand it without subtitles. All I can do is appreciate it and feel strongly about it. This is one thing that separates a passion from strength.
Strength is a bit more complicated, but the best definition is probably “A right or beneficial quality or attribute of a person or thing.”
In other words, strength is more than just how you feel about something. It’s a quality that you have; you can use that. Many things can be seen as strengths depending on how you use them. In certain situations, being shy can be a force.
Being skilled at a particular activity can be a strength. And of course, there’s being physical, mentally, or spiritually strong.
As other answerers have said, try different things. Your passion can be something that you enjoy doing, or maybe it’s a particular thing in this world that captures your imagination.
You can be passionate about anything from a type of work to a particular sports team, to the way light reflects off a lake. You won’t know until you experience these things for yourself. 🙂
If there are things that you can’t try yourself, watch others do them and see if you feel a stirring in your heart…admiration, awe, longing, excitement. These feelings can indicate a passion for something.
Research things that you are interested in to find out if you feel passionate about the whole process. (Example: you may think you feel passionate about helping sick people, but when you realize that this activity involves handling bodily fluids, blood, etc., you might realize it’s not a passion for you.)
If you don’t find love, don’t give up! The world is big and full of many surprising things. There is something in it for everyone. 🙂
Finding your passion … strength and passion don’t always line up
You can work hard to become stronger at your passion, but that doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. I could practice drawing all day, and as a result, I might become better at making anime. But I may never become good enough to call anime one of my strengths.
Looking at it the other way, you can try hard to feel passionate about your strengths, but some things are just “things that you’re good at” and nothing more. One of my strengths is retail sales and management…but I am not passionate about it. If I have to use that power to earn money, I will. But my passions lie elsewhere.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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