Why Passion Matters
Passion is attractive. As passion comes from believing you’re unusually good at something, being passionate will persuade people to follow you. It will persuade people to believe in you. But most importantly, passion will persuade yourself. Passion is an emotion specifically intended to make you go ‘off balance’ and work untiringly for something because your brain believes it is a part of you.
Passion is not the thing that gives you bliss or makes you happy 24/7, but instead it’s what you’re willing to suffer for and what you genuinely believe to be worth the sacrifice.
Self Awareness is the Key
The next time you feel energized and strong and congruent to the best version of yourself – the you that you wish you could be all the time – pay attention to what you’re doing in that moment. Write it down. Do this for as long as it takes until you see a pattern emerging. It won’t necessarily be the activities themselves – but they will have something in common. Look into them and behind them until you find a commonality of the essence of what you’re good at and what drives you.
Conducting this reflective thinking on my life recently, I realized the things that lit me up the most (weight lifting, sports, travelling, socializing) were not my passion in itself. But when I stepped back a bit and considered the other activities that light me up and make me feel a sense of wholeness, I realized that my passion is for self-expression. Being told I was in shy growing up has sparked a passion to get to know myself better and express myself in the ways I find best. It is this realization that has led me to blogging too, as a means of sharing my experiences and knowledge on anything of significance for me.
We confuse the activity with the value behind the activity. It’s the value that compels us — and which we can transfer to paid-income work in a way that changes lives (and the industry itself).
What Steve Jobs was passionate about was not computers, any more than it was calligraphy or Japanese gardening. It was simplicity. He made it his obsession and his art. He introduced it to an industry that, as far as it was concerned, was doing just fine without it. Simplicity drove the Apple identity: the strategy, the products and marketing and branding, the PowerPoint presentations. Simplicity enabled a computer company to connect with mass culture on a deep, emotional level.
Passion matters given that you’re likely to spend more time being deeply, truly involved with work that energizes you instead of being depleted and unfulfilled. When you can put in real, focused, quality time, you’re a lot more efficient and can maybe also have a life.
Passion Comes From Success
All of our emotions exist for good reason. We feel hunger to ensure we don’t starve. We feel full to ensure we don’t burst. And we feel passion to ensure we concentrate our efforts on things that reward us the most.
The enemy of passion is frustration. If you constantly struggle with something, you’ll never become passionate about it. You learn to avoid it entirely, guaranteeing you never improve. Most people get this backwards. They think we discover our passion, and that makes us good at something. It’s actually finding that you’re good which comes first. Passion comes from success.
Childhood Is Where Passion Lies
In theory childhood provides a great opportunity to try a bit of everything, find your talents, and with them, your passions.
Our school system promotes mediocrity by teaching only a handful for subjects and fuels intense competition through tests and grading within thousands of students. This creates a feeling of mediocrity before you hit adulthood, unless you’re in the top 2-3% of high achievers. It doesn’t matter how much we improve education, because people need to feel exceptional to feel passionate, and improving education simply moves up the average. The education system will keep rising your difficulty until you find a level where you’re not exceptional anymore. Even if you actually are objectively pretty great, once you feel merely average, you’ll find your passion slipping.
What if your passion was for sport? From an early age that passion is compromised by its social consequences. “It’s hard to make a living and of high risk to be an elite athlete” say your parents. “Your cousin is doing so well from engineering. Why can’t you be more like him?” And so you put your passions to one side, and let them wither.
Passion Can Be Created
It may help to know that the most successful people in life generally didn’t pick their passion off a shelf. Many of the world’s most successful people dropped out of education entirely because they found other areas where they were more skilled that education did not recognize. They created their own passions.
Only a tiny fraction of people can expect to excel in the narrow subjects that childhood primes us for. And competition in that space is basically ‘everybody in the world who went to school’, which doesn’t help our chances. But if you look outside of that space, you’ll find less competition, and more options. And this is how you tip the odds of finding a passion in your favor.
When you create something new, you’re inventing something to be passionate about. New things are relatively uncontested. By creating something new, you’ve made your odds of becoming exceptional far, far higher.
Now it’s important to note that passion comes from success. So if your new Twitter account only has 5 followers after a year, you probably won’t be too passionate about it. If you had 5 million, you’d have quit your job. You must find success to fuel your passion.
One limitation of education is it’s designed to narrow your skills. Education generally finds your one best thing, and pushes that thing as far as you can stand it. The problem is most of us, by definition, can’t be the best in any one area. But we can be exceptional in our combinations.
The most successful people are almost never defined by a single skill. They are a fusion of skills, often not even exceptional skills, but they’ve made their fusion exceptional. Steve Jobs was not the world’s greatest engineer, salesperson, designer or businessman. But he was uniquely good enough at all of these things, and wove them together into something far greater.
This is the final route you have to finding your passion: combine skills into something more valuable. Remember, passion comes from success. If a new combination gets you better results, that could be your passion right there.
Hope this information was of value to you. Thanks for reading!