Passion! It’s become a business and lifestyle buzzword lately, synonymous with the likes of “sustainability” and "value-add”. While passion is definitely a good thing, it remains elusive for many, if not all of us.
When it comes down to it, passion is the ultimate. It’s the driver of life’s purpose, meaning, and significance, and is the baseline for both self improvement and entrepreneurship. It’s sad, then, that it’s the one common thing many of us lack in our personal and professional lives.
Don’t fret. If you don’t have a passion, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s not that you don’t have a passion, it’s just that you haven’t uncovered one yet. It’s important to point out that we don’t “find” our passions more than we really do uncover them. Passion is something that resonates deep in the core of our personal values and beliefs, waiting for us to bring it to the surface.
What’s more, it might take a few life iterations and experiences for us to dig deep enough to uncover what resonates with our core being. Have you ever worked a job you hated, only to take your experiences, hone in on what you like and dislike, and find a better job? Have you ever been in a toxic friendship or relationship, only to use it as a springboard to find a person who resonates deeper with you?
If you’ve answered yes to either of those questions, you, my friend, are following your passion funnel. You’re using all of life’s experiences, both positive and negative, as a funnel that ends with you finding true meaning - true passion.
For me, my professional life has been one iteration after another. Some bad, some good. But after each iteration, or “bounce” as I call it, I learn more about myself, my likes and dislikes, and get one step closer to my true passion.
Look at the image below. In my life, I went from a marketing major to a finance major, to a job in investment finance I really disliked. Wearing a tie every day, with a stuffy, “clock in-clock out” work environment, definitely did not resonate with my core beliefs and values. I took that as a sign that company culture was very important to me, and used that understanding to find a job in corporate finance with a more relaxed work environment.
Although the work environment was much more my style, the company was large, and I quickly realized that a fast and agile startup, with a more team-oriented outlook, was what resonated with me. I used that knowledge to network with people in the Silicon Valley startup ecosystem, and landed a leadership-level finance job with a brand-spankin new, seed funded company. I was a key decision-maker in a budding startup, and if you had asked me back then, I would have told you that “I made it” (whatever that means).
I quickly uncovered, however, the feeling that being a decision-maker was great, but my true calling is to found a startup of my own. I’m currently using that discovery to take on more operational and strategic initiatives within the company, which will help two fold: it will give me more experience to break out on my own, and it will also push me one step forward in my passion funnel.
Who knows what I’ll learn in this iteration in my life! Founding a startup is my passion as of now, yes, but there are still ample opportunities to refine that passion. What type of company will I start? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, it’s an exciting ride!
Sorry, enough about me. I just hope that by showing you my experiences with my own passion funnel, you’ll be able to relate to your own funnel.
The key here is that uncovering your passion is an ongoing process. It’s a process that is only refined as you accumulate life experience and understanding of who you are as a person. Many of us view failures and negativity as experiences that deviate us from our path to our passion, but in reality, it’s these exact experiences that get us closer to our passions.
With each experience or “bounce”, you are pushed further down the funnel toward your life’s true calling.
Ultimately, once you identify your passion funnel, it’s something you’ll be following your entire life. Passions evolve over time as your understanding of self evolves, and your true passion will be a moving target. Which is a good thing, since as your passion moves forward it will only pick up momentum, meaning, and significance.
My advice, to those who have passion and those who have yet to uncover it, is to get off the couch. Put yourself out there. Have negative experiences. Have positive experiences. As long as you learn from each experience, you’ll hone your passion so it will further uncover itself.
Once that happens, your life will be one of direction by design. And that design is yours.