Are you following your passion, or letting it follow you?

Firing yourself up

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Conventional business wisdom tells us that our sweet spot is found at the intersection of three key elements.

Passion, talent, and opportunity.

All we have to do is answer three simple questions.

1. What are you deeply in love with?

2. What are you genetically encoded for?

3. What makes economic sense in the marketplace?

Or, to paraphrase the famous theologian, the place where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

In my experience, however, not all three of these elements are created equally. Each gives you a different kind of leverage than the other.

Say you have an innate talent for acting. Getting into character and doing voices and emoting in a compelling way in front of an audience is something you’re so good at, you make look easy.

But it’s not your passion, merely a talent.

Sure, acting is an enjoyable activity for you, and you’d be delighted to perform when the spirit moves. Just not for eight hours a day. Acting isn’t how you’d want to earn your livelihood. It’d be exhausting and unsustainable as a career for you. Even if there was a line of customers around the block willing to pay good money for your show.

In that scenario, you can see the limited leverage of things like talent and opportunity.

Both are important to have, but they’re not the most critical.

Passion, on the other hand, is.

My friend once told me, look, if you’re fired up about doing something, then that means working on it will make you happier. Which means the quality of the work will be higher, and your positive energy will infect team members and customers. Don’t worry, we’ll find a way to use it. Your passion will give us the leverage to channel that energy into a direction that meets our business goals.

That advice my friend gave me validated one of my favorite contrarian theories:

Passion follows you, not the other way around.

Turns out, passion is agnostic to things like location, platform, audience or company. Passion can set up shop anywhere it needs to, making itself at home wherever you go. It’s like a universal power adapter with twin voltage converters that can channel electricity in whatever outlet is available.

Which path you take isn’t that important. It’s what you carry with you that matters.

You make a decision and commit yourself to a new project or a job or an endeavor. And once you start moving, you find various ways to embed your passion into the pavement that leads the way, giving yourself and everyone around you a smooth road on which to travel.

People mistakenly think passion is a place we get to, but it’s quite the opposite. It’s a place we come from.

Think about the friend or coworker of yours whose passion is undeniable. They’re someone who knows exactly what gets them fired up, and how to use that in the service of their goals. Odds are, that person can walk into a room where not a single person believes them, besides them. But they have so much belief of their own, that they’re unstoppable.

That sense of inevitability of success can only come from deep, consistent expression of passion.

If you know that you’re playing your game, and you’re playing it in the way that only you can play it, you will play it better than anyone else in the world.

Focus on building everything around that uniqueness of who you are, and that will give you enough leverage to help the economic opportunities fall into place.

Are you following your passion, or letting it follow you?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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