Finding Your Passion
What does it mean to have passion?
In his book, Talk like TED, Carmine Gallo says that speakers ought to be passionate about what they speak about. When the speaker is really passionate about the topic, the audience gets mesmerized and captivated by the speech. Passion gives life and meaning to your work. Passion is contagious. Passion makes you focus. So what is passion and what does it mean to have passion?
A passion is basically an intense positive feeling that’s meaningful to you on a personal level. Your passion speaks profoundly about your sense of identity. That which you are passionate about is intimately woven into who you are. Your passion makes your heart sings, says Gallo. And since the relationship between identity and passion is so close, we often think that passion is something that’s ingrained in us. We either have it or we don’t. We either discover it or we don’t.
Is passion something that’s just waiting to be discovered by you? Will passion simply conjure up and present itself to you like magic? In the most recent Pixar movie, Soul, one of the protagonists had trouble finding her passion for the longest time (literally!). I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people resonate with her predicament. They would say, “The reason I’m not enjoying my job is because it’s not what I’m passionate about.” Or they might say, “I just haven’t found my passion yet.” Waiting to find your passion or for your passion to find you is like waiting for the prince charming to slay the dragon and save the princess. Your passion is not your prince charming. You don’t have to wait for your passion to show up. You can go get it. You don’t have to be passive about passion finding. You can be active in getting your own passion and let it help you live your life with energy, joy, and full of meaning.
Steven Kotler gives us four steps toward getting that passion of yours. First, be specific about what you are curious about. Don’t just say, sports or food. How about running in winter? How about making kimchi with different ingredients found in different climates. Make a list, Kotler advises.
Then, find the overlap. Do you recognize any overarching themes running through your list of curiosity? Which items on your list can be lumped together? Which activity emerges out of your list? Once you notice the overlap, it’s time to invest.
Here’s the third step. Spend 30 minutes or so every day to engage in the activity. You can learn more about the topic by reading books or listening to podcasts. You can even get involved in doing the activity yourself. See if your joy level increases. See how well you get at doing the activity. Get some experience and expertise. Seek other people who have similar interests. Join a community where you can have more experience and increase expertise in your topic. You might be able to help others along the way.
Lastly, see if your passion project can be turned into purpose. That is, to think about your passion as a way to help solve the problems others might struggle with. Can your passion be a solution to a problem in the world? Can your kimchi making passion help the people who can’t make kimchi because they don’t have the right ingredients? Can your passion for learning ancient dead languages help solve problems people have emotional problems? (Go figure!) When you see your passion can help to solve people’s problems, you will truly find fulfillment.
Passion has the power to drive us to achieve amazing things. You can certainly find your passion by paying attention to your curiosity and doing things to increase your experience and expertise.