Recognize Your Passion

Aug 14 2019

Jay-Z tells a great story in his book Decoded about his introduction to rapping, and what happened after he watched a neighborhood kid who dazzled him:

”That night I started to write rhymes in a spiral notebook. From the beginning it was easy, a constant flow. For days I filled page after page. Then I’d bang a beat out on the table, my bedroom window, whatever had a flat surface, and practice from the time I woke in the morning until I went to sleep.”

Three Clues

Building Brave Expert Dr. Cecily Horsham-Brathwaite uses Jay-Z as an example of recognizing passion. Notice Jay-Z said “a constant flow.” Writing rhymes consumed him, and it seemed almost effortless. He didn’t say he was good at it, just that he could do it easily. 

Building Brave Expert Dr. Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite

Dr. Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite

Dr. Horsham-Brathwaite outlines three clues for recognizing your passion:

    1. You become captivated at first exposure. It marks a turning point that changes you, a moment you remember all your life. The moment that makes you emotional and fills you with awe. It becomes part of your origin story about who you are now, versus who you were before.
    2. You have an affinity and talent for it. It seems easy, even if your peers struggle with it.
    3. It becomes your voice to communicate with the world. Combine that captivation and  talent together and they allow you to say something about your vision of the world. That desire to say something unique most often means that you are willing to devote an enormous amount of time exploring the depths of your talent.

Discovering your passion requires openness to new ideas, concepts, and practices, in order to see what resonates with you. Great mathematicians talk about being in the flow when they get deeply involved in developing proofs, programmers talk about time disappearing when they try to solve a problem, athletes in the middle of a game experience this same feeling.

If your genetic gifts point you in a particular direction, open your mind and allow the universe to speak to you. You never know when or where your passion–your flow– will find you.

Passion at work

Passion in your career may come in many guises. You could find yourself adoring every minute of your job, waking up thinking about it and going to bed dreaming about it. It can also feel less all-consuming. Your job might not delight you all the time, but certain aspects of it do. 

Building Brave Expert Dana Theus

Dana Theus

Building Brave Expert, Executive Coach Dana Theus shares how to find and follow your passion at work.

Tapping into passion brings delightful symptoms. You’ll find yourself thinking about it even when you don’t “have to.” Whenever you focus on your passion, time flies and your mood lightens. Participating in your passion feels meaningful to you, even if others don’t relate. 

I knew a woman in Public Relations. Whenever she had the chance to plan an event, she just loved it. She put her all into it and soon became known as the best event-planner in the company. This was true for many years, though she did much more than plan events. Then her daughter was born and she wanted more flexibility, so she quit and became a freelance event planner. She still contracts back to her original employer. She feels she lives her passion now, including both running her business and being a mom. This all started because she found one set of responsibilities she loved more than the others, and became good at them.

Follow joy and meaning

Being passionate about something might not lead you to do it the rest of your life, but it will lead you closer to tasks and jobs you enjoy. In my own case, I felt passionate about certain aspects of marketing for many years before I became a coach. I still enjoy aspects of marketing my business (e.g., writing articles) even though I find my main job (coaching and teaching) much more satisfying. Things like writing–one of my original passions– led me closer to the activities where I find passion now.

Don’t worry about finding passion in every aspect of your work. Simply follow the joy and meaning you find at every stage. This will lead you toward a meaningful, joy-filled work-life. 

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About the Author

Meghan Wollack

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