I love music, but I have the worst voice on the planet. Unless you count my obsession with listening to music, college didn’t help me discover any actionable passion to pursue. No matter how dedicated or determined, I just don’t have the tools or innate ability to be a great musician or singer. Making music my dedicated profession would have been a fool’s errand, and I would find no reward in the outcome.
People in the business of dispensing motivation and inspiration often suggest that following your passion is the shortest path to career success. If you believe them, there is no shortage of books filled with empty promises for you.
Can you forget your passion for awhile?
Better opportunities come from becoming an expert, with recognized abilities. Unfortunately, my early career decisions never lined up with my talent. I focused on finding “creative” jobs and struggled to accept that more creative jobs didn’t intersect with my talent or opportunities. As long as I fought this reality, I failed to advance and make breakthroughs. Once I accepted it, success followed, but the time that had passed was lost. The production jobs I was offered, and ultimately accepted, were not the ones I had hoped for (I worked on production crews in film and television). Although these jobs weren’t what I had idealized in my head, they were a good fit for me and my performance was recognized. My jobs in production required communication and collaboration skills that I learned quickly, and allowed me to jump from entry level roles to producing films in a few short and exciting years. I inadvertently discovered my passion for leading teams and also that collaborating was more satisfying and empowering than any individual creative role.
Unless you are a gifted artist who can create excellence alone, your ability to collaborate, learn from and contribute to others is a more likely path to your actionable passions and sense of purpose. Collaboration is not generally thought of as a “passion” that you pursue, but teamwork makes an impact in all you do and is something many people are passionate about.
If you are patient, your new and improved talents will intersect with new passions. This intersection is where you can achieve at high levels, with a sense of purpose and satisfaction. In this quest, passion matures over time and naturally aligns itself with that at which you excel. . Reward yourself with better options by having a focused plan to get from good to great. If you resist the temptation of opportunities that align with your talents, your options will multiply. Reward yourself with the opportunity to discover that passion by first and foremost, being excellent.