You’ve seen it many times in social media….
A serene background, like a beach, a sunset or a perfect looking human reaching their hands towards the sky and an overlay text: “Follow your passion!”
I’ve had enough of that so I decided to take deeper look into what it actually means and how it can be done.
My discovery on the topic of passion and purpose is simple but powerful and has helped me get clear direction and continually reenergize my pursuit!
You may have seen a similar Venn-diagram to this before about how to enjoy a purposeful life if you only focus on work in the intersection between money, talent and passion.
Simple right? Well, not really. How many people do you know that are paid to live out their passion?
So where and why do people stumble?
What are your talents?
Listing your talents is pretty simple. If you can’t answer it yourself then ask 5-10 people you’ve been interacting with recently, a mix of professional and private interactions, a few questions like:
- “What is it I do that makes me stand out from others?
- What would be three of my strongest qualities?
- Could you name a few reasons you like to work/hang with me?”
What are people willing to pay for?
Figuring out what people are willing to pay money for is fairly easy unless you’re truly innovating but in most cases I’d think your ideas are variations on existing products and services.
A simple trick is to check Amazon. Is there a market for your general idea?
If one of your talents are grooming your dog a quick search on Amazon shows that there are 2095 books on dog grooming and 15513 different products for dog grooming so people are clearly spending money dog grooming.
If you execute well on your idea of dog grooming you can capture some of that money.
So then it’s just about your passion right?
What are you truly passionate about? What do you love to do?
This is where I stumble. I enjoy a lot of different things and my passion cycles between these different things over time and with different levels of intensity.
But what is it that I am so passionate about that I can work with and pour my soul into for the rest of my life?
I mean if I’m going to break up from my current work, start something new, probably struggle financially during the start-up phase it better be for an undying passion right?
Well, I’ve recently come to reevaluate my view on passion and it’s was this little video clip with Simon Sinek on how to find you passion that flipped my mental switch.
His talk is not a revelation but combined with some other thoughts it helped me formulate a new understanding of passion.
Simon starts by stating:
“Passion is not an actionable word. // People who follow their passion do better but “follow your passion” is not helpful advice.”
He then continues to what really resonated with me:
“Passion is a result.”
Secondly, in this TEDx talk about how to know your life purpose Adam Leipzig says:
“The unexamined life is not worth living but if the only thing you do is examining you’re not living”
and further in he says:
“The happy people were outward focused. They knew very clearly who they served, what those people needed and how those people changed as a result.”
Finally, the last piece of the puzzle is expressed very effectively by Seth Godin: “Ship it!” Nothing will ever happen if you don’t ship!
The objective of doing is to interact with people in some way. And because it can be scary to interact with people (they may criticise you!!) it’s tempting to avoid shipping and keep working on your idea, to keep polishing, twisting and tweaking.
But you only learn what people are willing to pay for if you interact with them.
Seth Godin’s bottom line is “Always be shipping!” Formulate your idea, test it on people, take their feedback and refine your idea.
Build a prototype, ask people if it adds value to their lives, ask which feature they want you to develop further, go home and fine-tune and adjust, repeat in perpetuum.
Undying passion is not something you start with and then it carries you through to the end of the rainbow.
Passion is not input nor output. Passion is an energy fuelled by progress.
To have a genuine feeling of progress you need to be outward focused and a large part of that is to always be shipping.
By being outward focused and always be shipping you get feedback which allows you to gain better understanding of what people are willing to pay for which allows you to become better (develop your circle of Talent in the picture) at meeting those needs which will give your better market response and thus make tangible progress and the feeling of progress fuels your passion.
My learning here is: You must ship to fuel your passion, if you don’t ship you suffocate passion.
My action then is: Stop searching for my ultimate passion. Pick something I’m drawn towards and start shipping!