I was at an event this past weekend where I was part of a mastermind panel discussion. The discussion revolved around two main issues; how do you find your passion and what do you do when those closest to you don’t support your passion. I’ll deal with the first issue in this blog. I was intrigued by the number of participants and the wide range of demographics that posed this question to the panel. We were asked this, presumably, because we had all found our passion and were successfully pursing it, i.e. making a good living off of it and enjoying life. I can remember growing up and going to countless meetings with my father, himself a successful man who had found his passion in motivational speaking, and wondering if I would ever be as good as he was in a singular task. In short, would I ever find my passion? This haunted me throughout most of my life until I began considering it in a new light.
When I entered the Air Force Academy in 1984, it was largely due to the relentless work of my amazing Liaison Officer, Major Schaeffer (If he is reading this today, I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude). He saw something in me and worked to secure an appointment to the service academy. I remember when I arrived in Colorado Springs I heard several comments from incoming cadets stating how this had been their dream since they were preschoolers. I spent the next four years wondering if my lack of early passion would be discovered and I would be asked to leave. I worked hard and had some of the best years of my life before graduating and getting a commission. I may not have known without a shadow a doubt early in my life that this was the route to go, but it was definitely one of the smartest doors I have ever walked through.
This lack of definitive purpose or direction haunted me throughout much of my professional life. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I’m still not sure I’ve found my life’s passion. And yet with every door that presented itself, I walked through. Let’s just say that courage can definitely compensate for an undefined end goal. So here’s my answer about how to know/find your passion. There are those who know from their first breath what they are destined for. Their father takes them to see something or someone, or they witness something monumental, that inspires them for life. I was not one of those people. Most of the folks I talk with are not this type of person either. They go through a series of experiences until they work it out and act to make it a reality.
However, I found just as effective a means to finding your passion: Movement, Action, Decision Making. Passion is a journey. It’s not an end state but rather a constant source of activity, response and change. While my past professional experiences ultimately did not become my end passion, they each gave me a piece of the puzzle to putting together the picture of my life. Even if I took a particular fork in the road and it turned out not to be a success, I still learned from it. And if you believe the writings of Napoleon Hill
, you truly believe that the quickest way to success is through failure.
So stay positive if you get the urge to change your college major three times. Stay true to yourself if you decide to change career fields completely at various stages of your life. I’ve done both of these and lived well to tell about it! Change can be a very productive way of actively searching out and identifying your passion. As long as you are stepping onto another path, and not quitting for the sake of quitting, you will indeed find your destiny.