Lately, I’ve been reading and writing responses on Quora and stumbled on a very interesting question: “How can a person discover his/her passion?”
I found one response by Chuck Eesley particularly inspiring. He posted a link to the 2014 Stanford Commencement Address by Bill & Melinda Gates. You can also watch a video of the address.
Here are some great quotes I’ve pulled from that speech:
“Optimism for me isn’t a passive expectation that things will get better; it’s a conviction that we can make things better” — Melinda
“But we want to make the strongest case we can for the power of optimism. Even in dire situations, optimism can fuel innovation and lead to new tools to eliminate suffering.” — Bill
“But in the course of your lives, without any plan on your part, you’ll come to see suffering that will break your heart. When it happens, and it will, don’t turn away from it; turn toward it. That is the moment when change is born.” — Melinda
I strongly encourage you to listen to or read the address. They speak of some very serious real-world issues. They also give us an insight into what has made them so successful. They have drive, ambition, optimism, and focus in trying to solve several big problems. In summation — they are very passionate about what they do. The passion they have drives them to find solutions to those problems. So how do you discover what you are really passionate about?
Several years ago we ran across the word: Wantrepreneur. The definition of this is someone who really wants to start their own business, but has not done so yet. Alex Pirouz in an article in Entrepreneur had the following 3 things to say about the key characteristics of an entrepreneur vs. wantrepreneur:
If you are not 100 percent convinced and passionate about your product or service, why should anyone else be?… In my opinion all real entrepreneurs are driven by their passion and love for business, wantrepreneurs are driven by the idea of being an entrepreneur
Real entrepreneurs do what they say they’re going to do;
It’s ridiculous the roller coaster of emotions you have to go through in order to start, grow and eventually exit your own business.
I know many people who would love to “be their own boss” or “do something meaningful in business” or “not work for the man” — but are hoping to stumble into something that works for them in business. Being an entrepreneur requires a boatload of passion for what you are doing. This still leaves us some big questions — how do I find what I am passionate about to drive me towards success? I don’t really want to start my own business, but I want to be part of something awesome — Is passion only for entrepreneurs?
Obviously not. Sometimes you may find passion being part of something that already exists. Being passionate doesn’t mean that you have to create at your own original content.
I am extremely passionate about bodyboarding, although you may not guess that since I live in Dallas, Texas. This passion drove me to push past my limits to achieve some amazingly beautiful, yet simple moments between me and nature. The drive was to feel connected to something bigger than I was, to experience a peace with the ocean, yet balanced with excitement. I surfed waves bigger than I was comfortable with, learned maneuvers which took years to perfect, and woke up well before dawn as a teenager to experience what we refer to as a “dawn patrol” — I hungered for more on a daily basis.
Passion for your daily employment needs to be the same way. If you are not passionate about what you are doing with your life, then perhaps taking a personal inventory of where you are headed is necessary. Working with a team or part of a great organization can also bring that same enthusiasm. Your passion may require you to align yourself to an existing opportunity which fulfils your hunger to contribute.
I ask myself this question by way of example. I once gave a lecture to two different groups of Master degree students at University of Texas — Dallas. I posed the question: ‘Who here loves accounting?’ Out of the approximately 100 students I asked the question of, only a handful responded positively. Unfortunately, I wasn’t and still am not surprised. The reality is many people pursue employment which they consider ‘safe’ or ‘stable’. The truth is — no company, industry, or profession is truly safe from change. Heraclitus of Ephesussaid:
Everything changes and nothing stands still.
There are many jobs that, on the outside, appear boring or dull, or even useless. However, if you have ever watched an episode of “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe” you will see people who are passionate about some of the most literally dirty jobs in the world. The common thread with these people is they all understand that they are truly making a difference.
At ProvenCFO — I have a passion for working with entrepreneurs and helping businesses grow and become more efficient. I grew up in an Entrepreneur’s home. Our family experienced the impact of a changing economy in South Africa during the 1990’s, and the closing of a family business. The reality is a high number of business fail within the first 5 years of business. Our family business survived an incredible 17 years. Statistically, by year 17 only 25% of businesses remain. This is the chart from the Bureau of Labor Statics
ProvenCFO aims to provide a missing piece for many small businesses — technical expertise in systems as it relates to accounting and bookkeeping. We also provide much of the work when it comes to bookkeeping and financial analysis. I feel a sense of satisfaction about making that contribution to our clients. At ProvenCFO— I am also very passionate about working with members of my family and having great partnerships in my work-environment. I care about working with people I trust and who value my contributions.
Passion comes from facing the problems you have experienced in life. It comes from identifying challenges in your life and the lives of people you care about. Any great organization or movement is supported by people who care very deeply about making a difference.
I wish you luck and optimism in identifying your passions, and in using them to make a difference.