We’ve all seen inspirational posters that exhort us to follow our dreams. So many great motivational speakers tell us to follow our passion and that money will follow. But is that really true? Can you just follow your passion and somehow the world will recognize your authenticity and the dollars will follow?
What if you’re really passionate about humans flying without assistance? It doesn’t matter how much you stand on your roof and flap your arms, you’re not going to achieve flight and you’re not going to get people to pay you to teach them to fly.
If passion isn’t the only thing you need then what else do you need? Here are 4 things you need besides passion:
To start you need some expertise in your chosen field. At the very least you need to be a few steps ahead of most of the field. That means that when you’re just starting a job, it’s not the time to tell everyone why you have the best ideas in the organization and should be running the place.
Chris Lema had 20 years in the software industry and then took a year scoping out the WordPress world before he started writing about running a business and offering coaching services. While he was quickly well known in a new field, he had those 20 years of experience to build on.
Expect at the very least to spend a few years learning on the job and on your own time before you get that expert status. Then you’re ready to start leading.
“You must continue to gain expertise, but avoid thinking like an expert.” – Denis Waitley
2. A market
The second thing you need is people that are willing to pay you for what you offer. It’s no good trying to teach underwater tuba playing, because it’s just not something in demand. If under water tuba playing is your passion, keep doing what you enjoy just don’t expect it to turn into a business.
In the book, Will It Fly, Pat Flynn has a great formula for finding out if there is a market for what you want to offer. Start by searching for the online forums in your field. Then take a look through the questions that are asked and start writing down the problems people are having. Does what you offer solve any of these problems? If it does, then you probably have a market.
Once you have a market you need goals but not just any goals. You need goals that you can measure and that you own. Having goals like ‘be successful’ are way too nebulous. What is successful? What does it look like for you? Sure you have some dream of a fancy car and maybe big house, but those external things are rarely enough for people to really put in the effort required.
What you need is a goal like ‘I want to publish a book in the next 2 years’. From there you can work back and figure out that you need to write 1000 words a day or spend 30 minutes a day writing. A goal like that can be measured, you either have the words written and the time put in or you don’t.
Secondly you need goals that are your own. You can’t just look at what someone else has and aim to get the same thing. You need to have some internal motivation that pushes you when things are tough. Simon Sinek would call this your WHY and Jeff Goins would call it your story/purpose. This needs to underpin all your work and if it’s defined properly will be a driving force when things don’t go as planned.
4. Grit and resilience
Things are not going to go as planned, they rarely do. Simply having passion for a project isn’t going to keep you going despite what most people think. Quite often it’s going to take the thing you loved and when you heap on all the difficulties it becomes something that you simply don’t want to touch with a 10 foot pole.
To really stick with something you need grit or resilience. This is the ability to just keep getting back up when things aren’t going as planned. You only get that when the goal you’re trying to achieve is tied closely with your purpose or your WHY.
Grit is what gets us back up and helps us evaluate what went wrong. It helps us make a plan to avoid the same difficulties next time and then step right back into the work we were meant to do with excitement.
“Over time, grit is what separates fruitful lives from aimlessness.” – John Ortberg
Simply having a passion for something isn’t going to help you win the day. You need to make sure that it’s something you actually have the knowledge to win at. Second you need to make sure that there is a market for that skill. Third you need to make sure that it lines up with your purpose and if it does you need to have the mental toughness to keep going when life knocks you down for the 12th time.
If you don’t have all four of these things, then passion will fizzle and that thing you once loved so much will become something you stay away from at all costs.