Last week Friday, I gave a 20 minute talk at TNEW (Tshwane Entrepreneurship Week) on the topic “The Role of Passion in the Life of the Entrepreneur”. It was a great feeling doing some speaking after about a year, and the feedback was great. The things I said on Friday, I have mentioned quite a few times in this blog, but I’ll make a short summary of the essence of my talk.
The idea of passion is one that’s very dear to me. I have been obsessed with the question of what makes a life remarkable and meaningful. And I have no question in my mind that passion plays a huge and vital role in the pursuit of such a life.
What is Passion?
- A strong and barely controllable emotion
- A state or outburst of such emotion
Have you ever had the experience of being completely excited, engrossed and taken by a thing that you can’t wait to do it. In fact, you would pay to get to do it. Sleep doesn’t matter, food doesn’t matter, no obstacle would stand in your way, you would do whatever it took to get it done. You can’t help but talk about it all the time. It consumes you. That is passion. That is how lights are lit, that is how things are changed, that is how revolutions are kicked off. Passion.
Why is passion important?
Entrepreneurs are artists, designers and creators in their own right. The entrepreneur brings something into existence that did not exist before. If you have the urge to be an entrepreneur, it is because you are not satisfied with wage slavery or golden handcuffs. You are not satisfied with just being, you want to create, you want to bring birth to something. Every pregnancy begins with a moment of passion. Passion plants the seed, passion lights the fire. Passion provides the fuel.
The beautiful thing about passion is that when you have it, the artificial lines we build around our lives begin to blur. Work becomes play, work becomes joyful, work becomes exciting, work becomes a labour of love. It is such an amazing experience to work at something you care about, at something you are passionate about.
When you have passion, you cant wait to share it. Sales, marketing and advertising become so much easier with passion. People are attracted to lights, to those who are on fire.
How to find your passion?
Finding your passion is a tricky thing. As a kid, I loved creating art, as a teenager I really enjoyed sciences and mathematics, in my late teens I really got into dance and youth culture in general, especially the idea of using such tools to express a message. Later, I feel in love with graphic design and now my passion is design as a whole and expressing ideas through creation.
Passions change, they ebb and flow, it may take a couple of tries to find something you truly passionate about and can build into a living or career. The path to finding your passion is really the path to finding yourself, finding your purpose, your place in the world. It is a deeply spiritual journey. You have to ask yourself what it is you would do for the sheer pleasure of it, without even getting paid for it. What problems really bother you? What difference can you make? How can you impact the lives of others?
It will take time, days, weeks, years, but hone into that thing that makes you come alive.
There are three ways to find your passion
- Find your passion and follow it: This is the most common way we hear about, fall in love with something, and pursue it, become exceptional at it, build a company/career out of it.
- Find a need, build a passion around it: It is possible to build a passion. You can find a scare but valuable skill, study it and become good at it; good enough to develop further interest in it and build a passion for it. You can leverage this into cash flow.
- Find an ideal and follow it: not every passion is tangible, not every passion is for a thing or talent. Your passion may be helping people, solving problems, fixing communities, etc. You can find an ideal you truly believe in and build your passion on that
How to leverage your passion into a business
Passions are great, but unless they intersect with a real need out there, it won’t make you any money. That is the sweet spot, where your passion meets the real needs of people out there, that’s where you create your business, your product, your service.
Don’t follow your passion…
If you want to be safe, if you want the tried and tested. Passion is like fire, it gets out of hand quickly. You will have to take unpopular action, make sacrifices, maybe even give up your life. Often it is hard to distinguish the difference between passion and insanity. You may have a passion and get into it and realize that the reality of working that passion is not as glamorous or pleasant as you thought. It happens a lot. It’s a risk. But the risk is worth it…risk coming alive.
Good luck and godspeed
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