Where do you Stand on “Finding Your Passion”?

Work at the intersection of passion, what you're good at, and what people will pay you for said Jim Collins in 2001 (paraphrased.) Forget following your passion, start with doing something valuable and putting in the time and deliberate practice to become excellent at it, says Cal Newport.

Finding your passion:

is critical to having a full and fulfilling life. And you have to put yourself in a place to do that. For me, it started with a woman who knew what she wanted to do long before I did and who pushed me to “figure it out” and it ended with a couple guys, Milton and Bliss, who passed their passion on to me.

I am sure there are many other ways to get there. But it won’t happen without help. So surround yourself with people who care about you and listen to them. And good things will come from that.

Says Fred Wilson#

Note the difference in verbs between Newport's research and Wilson's phrasing — follow vs. find. When your process is to find, you have a different starting point. Wilson put family first, then the job and on the way found a combination of advice, hard work, and mentoring that contributed to his success.

My situation was similar in that I wanted to engage in deliberate practice to improve my English and help an organization that was helping make my cousin better. So I started with that — desire to help and learn at the same time. After 1,200 hours of simultaneous interpreting and countless more doing written and consecutive translation I realized I was also becoming good at understanding motivation and intent behind the words, given the context and taking into account cultural differences. We also published a quarterly magazine with results and that led to writing, editing, and learning desktop publishing using Mac. And I did a bunch of operational things on top of those.

That deep practice helped me tremendously with the brand strategy and development and communication work I did later. As a linguist with those cumulative skills I then took to learning more about the behavioral aspects of people in various situations. A complementary track was writing, editing, and publishing to communicate with customers, partners, etc. and so on. One block on top of the other and here I am today.

Regardless of what you think about the question of finding your passion, I agree that you will not get there alone. So find people who care and put yourself in situations and places where you can also meet lady luck.

I was very fortunate early in my career, I was surrounded by people who cared and that helped me recognize when and where to meet luck. Maybe there is a reason why career and executive coaches have a steady stream of work — it has become rare to find leaders and managers who show you the ropes and care enough about you to help you hit your stride.

We used to have the types of conversations that are still going on at AVC here. Now all I get is a stream of guest posts or links requests from strangers. It may be easier to tweet a post and be done with it, but it is far richer for processing information and building the kind of interactions that lead to people who care to engage in fewer conversations, more deeply. Collaborations are born from frequent interactions, not drive-throughs.

PS: when I was a teen, I had a real passion for guitar. Put in a lot of time to learn to play. I never got beyond good enough, so I let it go and put more energy into my research and studies, which led to a lifelong love and passion for learning beyond the degrees.