First of all, I have to give credit to Cassy Aite, a good friend of mine, for providing me with the idea on which this article is based on.
“An article about passion and finding it. Something with a few clear exercises or actions to take to help make your passions clear to you.”
A wonderful question which is asked, yet seldom answered properly; what is your passion? To get started and for this article to be of value, let’s start by working backwards. Passion is the strong and deep emotion one has towards something. This emotion is enticed by an experience which was previously felt, usually in a positive state, which led to this feeling (or emotion) being embedded in one’s memory. For instance, you will often hear a motivational speaker say “I am passionate about helping people achieve their dreams and reach the level of success they set out to accomplish”. The reason someone feels strongly connected (or passionate) to such a desire is because it was done in the past, it felt really good i.e. dopamine was released, and it is a feeling that’s desired in the future.
Now, that we understand the backdrop of passion itself, let’s move on to defining one’s desire. The question I pose is; what do you want? To understand what you want, you must first understand who it is you are because you can only get to the end state if you know the position you are starting from. It’s funny, that despite our advancements in technology and the many complexities we display in our evolution, one of the diluting facets of humanity is the lack of self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Ask someone where they work and what they do, and they’ll answer it without a stutter, but ask them what really motivates them, who they think they are, if they’re truly happy, and nine times out of ten you will hear silence. Why? Because people spend most of their time avoiding difficult questions rather than investing the time to answer them – endlessly chasing the quest for meaning, happiness, and purpose while forgetting to open the map before starting.
Now that I’m finished my rant, I can get to the second part of this article which will give you tangible action items you can enact today to get you closer to living out your passion.
- Don’t force another person’s skin onto yours: too many of you are chasing things that seem “sexy”, “flashy”, “trendy”, but not necessarily things that make YOU happy. It’s funny, every second student I run into nowadays wants to become an entrepreneur. Which is cool, if that’s something you’re truly interested in, have thought about, understand why it is that you want to become one, etc. Another great example is people who just do things because the street (or the market) deems it to be right. Who can forget this: “yeah, I’m going to do my MBA right after finishing my Bachelors too!” I love looking someone in the eyes and genuinely asking them why is it that they’re doing what they’re doing i.e. give me the real reason and not the lies that you’ve sold yourself on. The difficult thing to do is to step on your ego, be true to yourself, get comfortable with who you really are, and leverage your strengths while downplaying your weaknesses. I’d love to have the scientific mind of Elon Musk or Neil Degrasse Tyson, but I don’t, and that’s OK. What I do have is the ability to connect very well with people, ability to think tactically/strategically in business (or street-smarts), ability to story-tell and communicate things in a way that everyone can understand, ability to market/promote/brand an idea/product/service, ability to motivate/inspire others, ability to not give a shit what people think, do what makes me happy, and work my butt off every single day etc. Point is, none us can do it all, we have things we shine in and things that we were never meant for – the importance here, is having the courage to accepting yourself as you are and starting to live life in your own skin.
- Be curious, try different things: some people wake up with a voice like Adele, and others wake up really, really, really confused. I was the latter (although I do enjoy singing the odd Frank Sinatra song once in awhile). In high school, I dreamt of becoming a basketball player and practiced day and night. That was my dream, believe it or not, it wasn’t to be a suited-up business man whose a pocket square fanatic. Throughout high school though, I began realizing things I was good at and actually enjoyed. I was in the high school play “Annie” where I played a leading-role and yes I loved it (happy?). That play gave me the internal confidence of public speaking and communication that I hold to this day and really enjoy doing. The playing of different sports, practicing really hard, and losing a bunch of weight, provided me with the determination, persistence, hard work, competitiveness, and team-mentality that I leverage today in the business world. Point is, try different things and absorb all the lessons that come with them because even if you don’t end up doing that particular thing for life, you will be able to bring forth the knowledge into other facets that eventually become your life.
- It’s OK to have multiple passions: who the hell said you can’t? This is not black and white, there’s no right or wrong with passion, so feel free to explore and adopt as many passions as you can possibly handle. Here is a list of some of my passions; social media and leveraging it to enact positive change, music and singing simply because it puts me in a great mood, investing/personal finance because I believe it’s important to manage your money properly in a way that creates sustained wealth, business and constantly thinking of new ideas/developing new projects (the entrepreneurial side of me), technology and keeping up with new and innovative ideas, reading/writing because it’s important to continuously learn and share your learnings with others etc. You get the point. All my passions inspire me, they get me up in the morning, keep me alive during the day, and allow me to sleep well at night.
- Try to make your passion(s), your life: the ideal situation is if you were able to fully live out your passion in a way that you want i.e. doing something you absolutely love, while making enough money to live well. However, I understand that for most people this is not “realistic”, and as much as the optimist in me hates using that term, I will give you examples of how you can really try to live out your passion(s). One strategy you can try (which is something I’ve done and has worked for me) is to integrate your passion(s) in whatever it is you are doing, at work, at school, or anywhere else. For instance, one of the things I really enjoy doing is communicating/public speaking, and I also really enjoy stand-up comedy, acting, and practicing creative forms of artistic expression. To get the best of both worlds, I now try to bridge in some humour when presenting to lighten the mood, and speak as if though I was acting in a movie. Now of course, not all of your passions can be directly bridged into your work, and if this is the case then find time outside of work to tackle them. For instance, I really enjoy meeting and talking with people i.e. networking, which gave me the idea of starting my podcast (Let’s Grab Coffee) after the excitement/joy I would feel by meeting with someone, learning from them, reciprocating some value, and then sharing those learnings with my community – either through a blog, video, or another form of a communication platform. I took a passion of mine that started off at work in a more formal setting and transferred it to my personal life where I can practice it on my own time and terms.
I hope this article helps you figure out what your passion is, and wish you the best of luck in whatever pursuits you end up embarking on.
If you haven’t already, check out my YouTube video: Let’s Talk Passion