Follow your passion.
You’ve probably heard that a thousand times already and your child has also heard it hundreds of times.
It is everywhere. Every speaker, successful person, or just about anybody, gives the “follow your passion” advice. But in the midst of this passion campaign, there are a number of false messages that can affect your child’s belief system about life and what it takes to become successful.
“Follow your passion” is not bad advice. And there’s nothing wrong with the word “passion” itself. The problem is that many people have interpreted this very important term to mean a number of wrong things.
Below are some of the myths about passion that your child must know.
Myth 1: When you find your passion, “you no longer have to work a day in your life”
This is the most common (and most dangerous) statement about passion that your child must know. They tell us that when you finally discover your passion, work becomes play and you don’t even need to put in hard efforts again.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. Finding your passion isn’t a form of retirement, it is the point where you actually begin to do the work itself. Although that work can become more fulfilling and joyful to do, you will still have to go through the pain of work and labour to ensure that you make the best out of that passion.
Young people are easily swayed by statements like this because they have a natural inclination to less work and more enjoyment. And so, they see passion as the shortcut to avoid all the sweat and toil that success demands.
This is the major reason why most people never stop looking for their passion – because when they find it, they expect that they won’t need to work hard anymore, only to discover that there’s still a lot of work today.
Passion does not get rid of the work, it just makes it more enjoyable.
Myth 2: You can only get passionate about what you were naturally created to be passionate about.
We think about passion as a set range of activities that one can do. Beyond these activities, all other activities should be avoided.
This is another misleading belief about passion. Passion is not fixed. You can get passionate about as many things as you want if you put in the time and effort to learn and love that thing.
When children believe that they can only get passionate about one or two things, they limit the amount of impact they can have on the world.
Another reason why we think passion is fixed is that we see passion as an unchangeable aspect of our being (like our genetics). This is also very wrong. Passion is very malleable and it is totally in our control.
You can get passionate about online payment systems and still get passionate about electric cars, space exploration, and electricity generation, just like Elon Musk.
Myth 3: To follow your passion, you must drop out of school
You’ve heard this before. They give examples of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and their likes who dropped out of school to “follow their passion.”
Young people are easily deluded by this idea also.
Following your passion has nothing to do with dropping out of school. There are many people who discovered their passions because of school and went ahead to create greater success in the world.
The two richest men in the world (Elon Musk & Jeff Bezos) are graduates, and Elon once pursued a PhD. So, following your passion and succeeding in life has nothing to do with dropping out.
It may be hard, but you must help your child understand that dropping out of school does not guarantee success. Usually, going through school is a more reliable guarantee for success.
Myth 4: When you follow your passion, everything comes easily.
Really? If so, why are people like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos (who are clearly “following their passion”) still working more than 10 hours a day?
Passion is not an elixir for making magic happen in life. It is simply an ingredient towards a fulfilling life.
Finding your passion doesn’t mean that wealth, fame, happiness, and all forms of success will flow into your life easily. You still have to work to sustain whatever it is that you have earned from your oassion.
Kobe Bryant followed his passion as a basketball player, but he was “working like hell” to get whatever he did; training as early as 4AM in the morning till about 9PM, with short breaks in between. That’s what it takes to be a champion.
You need to help your child understand that finding passion doesn’t mean you can now sit down in front of the TV with a plate of popcorn all day.
Myth 5: You have to “find” your passion
This may be a little confusing, but it’s true: You don’t “find” passion, you create it.
Passion is not lost. It is not something you recruit a search team to go and look for. It is something you nurture, something you create, something you mould with your own hands.
The wrong mindset about passion is that we were born with it. While this may be true to an extent, it is only half the equation.
Einstein wasn’t born with knowledge of crazy mathematical equations, he had to nurture that passion through hours of work and study. And it paid off at the end.
In the same sense, your child shouldn’t go out in search of passion. Those who search for passion never find it because they keep searching for something that will not require hard work.
Remember, you don’t find passion, you create it.
Creating passion is a more proactive approach to attaining great success. Pick a skill that you like (even if it’s just a little) and get vey good at it. It’s that simple.
When one of these ingredients is missing, fulfilment will be hard to achieve.
When you get extremely good at a skill or job you hate, life becomes stressful. When you love something but aren’t so good at it, you’re unable to make something good out of it.