Do Not Follow Your Passion…Unless You’re Really Good At It

A common theme and idea shared by motivational speakers and the self-help circle is to follow your passion. I imagine that this recommendation comes from a good place and with good intent. Even so, is this mantra the best advice? Probably not.

Why do I say this? Well, here is why. If following your passion is the one missing ingredient that is supposed to take a person from living an average life to a phenomenal life, then why are so many people stuck between mediocrity and unfulfillment? Before I answer that question, here’s what I mean by “follow your passion.” Follow your passion simply means going after the things that will bring a high level of fulfillment. Now, back to the question.

The reason why it is not enough to simply follow your passion is because you might find yourself doing something you love, but not necessarily good at, which will inevitably lead to frustration. Let’s take the show American Idol as an example. Right before the contestants sing in front of the judges, they’d be interviewed in the waiting area and would be asked to tell the television viewers a little about themselves and how they got into singing and so forth. More often than not, almost every contestant would speak of his or her passion and the love for music and singing. A few minutes later, those same individuals would get on the stage—and noise that came out of their mouths sounded like the combination of a train coming to a screeching stop and a wounded animal—just horrendous.

Now, does this mean that a person should not follow his or her passion? Of course not. What I am saying is if you are following your passion but are getting nowhere, then something is wrong. Passion is a good starting point, but it is not enough. The key to living a fulfilled life is to find and employ the right combination of passion, skill, need and impact.

That is, there needs to be a balance between: (1)  what you are passionate about; (2) what you are really skilled at doing;  (3) what your skill can do for others—meaning, does your skill, gift or talent offer a unique solution to a real problem; (4) and the level and number of people you impact.

Look around you. Study the lives of those who are winning and you will notice a common theme. Winners are not only passionate about their craft, but they are also really, really good at what they do. You’d also notice that winners have the right set of skills to address a specific opportunity in the market place.

So, perhaps it is time for you to move on and try something else. But, how do you find your passion? My philosophy is that the best way to find your passion is to try different and new things until you get there.

Lastly, once you have found your passion and are good at it, then it is time to spread the wealth. This is to say that if your passion only benefits you, then you might want to recalibrate your moral compass. Your passion should be so irresistible, so dynamic and so compelling that all it does is multiply—creating value that gives meaning to people’s lives on a wide scale—continually.

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