Last week, I held office hours for members of my Inner Circle mentorship program.
One of my members asked me for a process she could use to “find” her passion. She was having difficulty figuring it out and was looking for help.
Some people are fortunate to figure out their passions early in life. My oldest daughter, now a teenager, loves animals. She raises 25 fish, six chickens, two guinea pigs, one frog, and one dog. She’s been like this since she was three years old.
If you’re like my daughter, you already know what you love in life.
Then there’s the rest of us… 🙂
For the rest of us who don’t seem to have an innate passion, it’s useful to think of passion as something that is DEVELOPED rather than discovered.
The most joyful part of any endeavor often comes after you get good at it.
In my personal life, I love to cook. I used to spend hours cooking really bad food. It wasn’t fun. I was hardly passionate about it.
But after a year of taking classes, trying dozens of cooking experiments, and cooking hundreds of meals using what I learned in class, my cooking started to taste a lot better.
Today, it is so much fun. (The two dishes I added to my repertoire this past month are glazed carrots, and blanched asparagus tips finished in a garlic and olive oil sauté.)
I’m passionate about cooking today… but I definitely wasn’t when I first started.
Professionally, I’m best known for my writing.
After I wrote my 9th book, someone asked me when I first thought of myself as a writer.
Initially, I didn’t know what to say because it was in that moment that I realized that I had not yet seen myself as a writer. I replied, “When I do, I’ll let you know.”
I was a very good student in high school… except for English.
My biggest weakness in my English class was my writing.
English was the only subject where I was not able to pass the AP exam to get college credit.
When I got to McKinsey, I was great at analysis, working with clients, and solving complex problems. My biggest problem area was my writing. My managers gave me feedback every few days for an entire year. I got better.
When I decided to work for myself and work from home, I realized that if I didn’t want to travel on planes to get clients, I had to learn to write (this was before broadband Internet connections were commonplace).
I spent about six years taking classes, seeking mentors, writing a lot!
After writing 1.5 million words (the equivalent of 30 books) or so the last 15 years, I’m now able to read my own writing and say to myself, “Hey, that’s not bad.”
Two things happened that turned writing from merely a necessary activity to a passion for me:
- My writing finally got good enough to attract an audience that wanted to read it.
- My writing started to change people’s lives when they applied what I taught them.
I thought it was the most amazing thing in the world when I had readers that lifted their entire family out of poverty by landing a six-figure job offer from McKinsey.
That was when I became passionate about writing.
Today, it’s an absolute joy to see my kids’ faces when I tell them what’s for dinner.
It’s an absolute joy to talk to my students and hear how their career successes wildly exceeded their imagination, in part due to my writings.
I’m having the time of my life… but it didn’t start that way.
So, if you’ve already found your passion in life — good for you.
If you’re like me, you might need to develop your passions over time.
Rather than spend energy “finding” a passion that might not yet exist for you, devote time looking for an… interest that you’re excited enough about to devote time to learn and get better doing.
I was interested in cooking before I devoted the time to get good enough at it to the point where it’s now fun.
I was interested in being a better writer before I got good enough to reach and change the lives of an audience.
All of my passions were developed. None were “found.”
Here’s my question of the day for you:
What interests do you have that excite you enough that you’re willing to devote time to improving?
Answer and follow up on that question, and the passion will take care of itself in due time.
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