There is no denying that we crave inspiration in our daily lives. This is why it is easy to see how trendy advice, such as “follow your passion”, strikes such a powerful cord with those searching for their definition of success and happiness.We have listened to many esteemed individuals lend credence to this philosophy, publicly validating that their success was a direct result of following their life’s passion. And why not, it sounds like a reasonable and “no brainer” approach to finding happiness in this life… but does it take more sweat equity then we have been led to believe? The inspiration begins to fade when you realize “follow your passion” is very vague advice. I found myself asking, “What does follow your passion mean? How do you find your passion to follow? If you are passionless, does that mean you are doomed to fail in this life?” Of course, not! The truth is, we are not born with a specific passion, and we develop passion and care about causes through building experience. Finding success and happiness through much more methodical means: hard work, sacrifice and developing our value to others.
In the words of John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. This quote is a powerful illustration of what is wrong with focusing solely on a “follow your passion” mentality. Upon close inspection, focusing on your passion is an inward activity, bringing with it an inherent expectation that doing things that make you happy will automatically make others happy, finding value in you. Moment of Truth: people do not want to pay you to be happy, they want to pay you because you bring a source of value to them through what you do. This is the beauty about hard truths, you can find your passion and happiness by finding the one thing or things that you do that add value to others. Working tirelessly and painstakingly to fine tune and hone those skills. Eventually, making you a priceless commodity.
To find your passion, you must clearly define your value by spending time developing unique skills, eventually creating an indisputable demand for you, your product and/or service. None of the world’s success icons got to where they were by accident or by following their passion, despite what they may say publicly to inspire the masses. They got there because they were dedicated to working hard at a specific craft, developing skills that could be used to address gaps in the world that people valued and solved real problems. Providing value to the masses and not selfishly to ourselves, unlike what the passion principle would have you believe. When we consider the successful elite, their passions were an outcome from years of care and feeding of a personal value proposition and distinctiveness they bring to the world. It’s easy to think that passion is the root cause in these examples, because eventually the lines become blurred. You transition from apprenticeship to master of the dark art and magically your passion appears. To be fair, it’s not something we actively notice as it happens. In the end, the successful only recognize that they feel passion for what they do, so that must be the answer! Forgetting the long bumpy road traveled, working hard to provide value to others which eventually results in a developed passion.