Forget Passion – Let Curiosity Be Your Guide
BY PAUL MEEN PARK
NOV. 16, 2017
It’s a question that every senior in high school hears over and over, and probably about twenty times on graduation day alone: “So, what’s your passion?”
Some students will have a ready answer. They’re passionate about something, whether it’s graphic design or electrical engineering or environmental science, and they just can’t wait to dive deep into it throughout their post-secondary schooling or employment.
Others, though, can’t answer the question quite so easily. There’s no single thing they can identify that sets their soul on fire, that they dream and obsess about night and day. It doesn’t mean anything’s wrong with their lives, it’s just that they don’t have a “passion.”
You might be one of these people. Even if you've left your high school years far behind, you might not have a central passion in your life. If so, questions about your passion probably drive you absolutely insane, or make you want to gnaw your left hand off in frustration.
The Search For Your Passion
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” If that’s true, then you have to have a passion to get a jump start on your goals, right? Because that’s what famous people like Steve Jobs say, and look at the heights he achieved.
Steve Jobs, in his famous commencement speech at Stanford, said, “You’ve got to find what you love...The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle.”
If this titan of the business world equates passion with success, then what does that say to the people who have searched for their passion but just can’t find it?
Passion Isn't the First Step
The thing is, Steve Jobs didn’t follow his passion in the years before he and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer. He spent years dabbling in a variety of interests and jobs, and at one point he was more interested in learning about Zen Buddhism than anything else. If he had decided that this was his passion, then he might have been the most dynamic and successful Buddhist teacher in all of Cupertino, California, and the Apple we know today might not even exist.
So, despite his world-changing success, maybe Jobs' advice isn't the only way to make it big in life. Maybe you don't have to start with your passion at all.
Open Your World, and the Passion Will Follow
So if passion isn’t the mandatory first step towards success, what are the alternatives?
Curiosity — it ain’t just for cats
Keep your eyes open, and explore the world around you. Examine everything through the eyes of a curious kitten. How does it work? Where did it come from? What happens if I do this, or push that, or change something else? Stay curious, and you might find something - or many things - that pique your interest.
Your mind should be like a 7-Eleven
Keep it open! Don’t reject things just because they make you uncomfortable or afraid. Open your mind to trying new things, meeting new people, and jumping into new experiences. Even if you later decide you don’t want to pursue them any further, at least you’ve opened yourself up to new things, and you’ve probably learned a lot along the way.
Fail your way to success
Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Every failure teaches you something, and when you learn enough you’ll eventually win.
Writer and marketing expert Terri Trespicio believes that passion isn’t a plan. She said, “Passion is not a job, a sport, or a hobby. It is the full force of your attention and energy that you give to whatever is right in front of you. And if you’re so busy looking for this passion, you could miss opportunities that change your life.”
Keep exploring and trying and learning. Eventually, you might stumble upon something that you can’t wait to dive into in the evening, even after a tiring day at work. You might discover something that keeps you up late at night, and that you can’t wait to share with your family and friends. And once you’ve found this, then your search for your passion is over.
Until, of course, it's time to find your next passion.