Many times, during training, public speaking, or one to one mentoring, I ask this question, “What is your passion?” To my utmost surprise, I get gob-smacked when over 90% of people say they don’t know. My conclusion is that a lot of people see passion as something mystical, or that which takes a whole lifetime to discover. Because of this erroneous assumption, many are stuck in jobs that they shouldn’t be doing.
Before I go on, I must point out that there are three steps to job satisfaction; passion, direction and purpose. Passion is the love. Direction is the objective. Purpose is the destination. What takes you into your destination is the access gate; passion is the access gate. Without the access gate, you’ll roam the street like a beggar even if you have a job.
A number of years ago, Nicola Gillison, an Oxford University graduate left her job as an IT Consultant at Pricewaterhousecoopers UK to retrain as a plumber, and everyone thought she was stupid, including me. On a closer examination, I saw her reason for making that “stupid” decision. That reason was passion! Come to think of it, there truly isn’t any business that you do not have millionaires. In cleaning, you have multimillion companies. In security guard, you also have multimillion organizations. So why can’t a man or woman leave the City or Wall Street to go into his passion?
We have forgotten the fact that passion grows and develops. Some cleaning companies started by mere wiping of tables and chairs; then someone with a visionary mind began to think that rather than continuing to buy cleaning materials, they can go ahead and make theirs. They start by making theirs, and then, another idea pops up. “Why can’t we sell to other companies that need our materials?” someone suggested. From cleaning, they move to producing, and advance to selling. This is how passion grows. If you don’t fall in love, you won’t be productive!
What are the 8 easy ways to identify your passion?
What you spend most of your time on: not everyone may agree, and it isn’t always true, but there is a link between what you spend most of your time on and your passion. Some people enjoy driving; if you enjoy driving, you may also enjoy travelling. Many have made millions from travelling to different places. How? The internet and social media have afforded people the privilege of posting pictures and videos shot from different parts of the world. As you travel, you take pictures and shoot videos with your phone or other digital devices. Believe it or not, when some media houses identify viral videos or still images, they buy them, or even give you some sort of contractual jobs to do on their behalf. On some of these jobs, you state your terms and conditions. From a passion as simple as driving, you grow into money making business. This is just one illustration.
What you spend most of your money on: most women like fashion, but only to wear. Why not take it further? You don’t need to be a fashion designer to take it further; just know what you want, have enough vocabulary to describe what you want, and you are made. Victoria Beckham cannot use the sewing machine but she has her fashion brand, all because of her love for it and her ability to say what she wants. If you can spend all your money buying the latest fashion styles, you can also put those resources into your own label because of your passion. Where your money goes regularly is where your passion is.
When you see the pain as gain rather than stress:many people go to work stressed even if they hadn’t done anything because they don’t have a passion for where they go. With passion, hours run like minutes. With passion, pains are gains. I remember when I was writing one of my books, I spent ten hours on the kitchen table putting some bits and pieces of information together, refusing to eat and only drinking tea. I felt the pains as I sat there, but it was sweetness to me because I love to write. I also remember when I worked in a certain industry; mere thinking of it gave me stress even if I wasn’t at work. It was never my passion, and no millions of dollars would have made it one. I may have loved the money, but wouldn’t have ever loved the job. You can’t innovate what you don’t love.
When I saw some South American Biologists on BBC weep as they released some rare species of birds they bred into the forest to boost their number, I was like, “this must be idiotic.” It was to me, but never to them, because of their passion. It took them time, money, and pains to achieve what they consider their lifetime dream. What gives you sweet pain is your passion. Go for it; there’s something in there for you.
You don’t feel bad when you don’t get back:excuse the wording of this point because everyone feels bad when they don’t get back; I just couldn’t find a better terminology for it. If it’s a passion, lack of appreciation does not diminish your resolve to carry on. If it is a passion, lack of immediate gratifications don’t stop you from pushing your dream forward. I have a friend who is passionate about designing games and other forms of digital software; the more his products are snubbed, the more he designs. The fire within is the turbine engine that keeps propelling a person of passion in the direction of his love.
The source of the most joy, inner satisfaction and fulfillment: when people ask what you do for a living, your most probable answer is your 9 to 5 job, but some 9 to 5 don’t give you a living; they stress you. Your understanding of “living” is money-making only; living goes beyond money-making. Living is inner satisfaction and self fulfilment; that thing you do that gives you self-worth, the most joy and fulfillment is your passion.
Someone said to me, “cooking helps me relieve stress.” My response was, “really?” Please don’t send me into the kitchen if you don’t want the house in rubbles and ashes, but for the lady in question, it is what brings her the most joy, inner satisfaction and fulfillment. To identify your passion, you must ask yourself, “What brings me the most joy, inner satisfaction, self-worth and fulfilment?” If you can answer that question, you have just found your passion.
The first thing you run to at your spare time:I understand the fact that we all need money. I also know that passion does not always produce instant cash, and we need money to survive. So, I am not asking you to instantly abandon your 9 to 5 when your passion hasn’t paid you any dividend. But my question is, “What is the first thing you run to when you aren’t at your 9 to 5?” Is it talking, listening, dexterity, or other stuffs? That thing may as well be your passion.
What you always talk about:if you’re truly in love, everyone will hear about it because whatever the subject of discussion, somehow, you unconsciously find a way to mention it. I have never seen a silent passion; passion burns from within, and cannot be muted. What profession, business or talent do you talk about most? That is a passion clue; go for it!
Willing to share and not afraid of competition:the marketplace is an environment of competition and will continue to be. As a result of competition, many are unwilling to share their knowledge, but I feel that this a dangerous position to assume. Why? In my understanding, and what works for me, the more I give the more I get. If you’re truly passionate about something, you will share your knowledge in form of mentoring those who are beneath. You should share your success stories, failures, and how you beat the odds. One major challenge herbal medicines have had in Africa is unnecessary secrecy, even when there isn’t a need for it. Secrecy made our alternative medicines appear diabolical because someone is scared of competition. The fear of competition killed our passion, and the world only sees the magical aspect of it, unknown to them that some of our forefathers played a mind game in order to appear highly spiritual.
Never ever say you don’t have a passion; you do. Find your love. Embrace your love. Become your very best self. The world awaits your creativity!
Originally published in June 2016 print edition of African Leadership Magazine