How to find your passion? Or Not…

There seems to be an obsessive refrain on the Internet these days that you have to find your passion, DWYL (Do What You Love), find your purpose, be in your element. With everyone apparently having the capacity to be rich, happy and fulfilled if you can just do find your personal sweet spot.

This sounds, to many of us, fantastic. I know I would greatly appreciate a sense of flow in everything I do, a purpose to my life, a passion that kept me focussed on a particular aim in the future.

I am also pretty sure that the excessive claims of many book writers and pundits are somewhat fanciful. Having said that, I can admit that they are correct, in so much as that if you can find your passion/element/purpose you can, if determined and persevering enough, turn it into a career. That’s not to say that I believe that all those passions can be turned into a fantastic million dollar money trees but I think they can turn into an important part of your life that means you can live while  doing what you love rather than wasting your time doing something you hate. What more can you ask from life?

Some people are even more sceptical about the “passion” industry Goals are for Losers. Passion is Overrated I have to say I have a lot of sympathy to what Scott says.  Passion is, by itself, not enough, lots of people are passionate and fail, lots of business have a good idea and collapse in ruin. There is a heavy dose of perseverance and as he puts it, investment in systems, that are required for success. But let’s go a step further than that, what if passion is really important, but there’s a big problem …

What if I don’t even have a passion?!

Worse than the potential overly optimistic yodelling of the successful few is a nagging fact, I’m not even sure I  have a passion for something, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy things, I love my job, I love a lot of activities but they don’t really constitute the overriding passion that seems to be necessary to call them something that drives my life.

More to the point  I don’t think I’m alone in this regard, many people say the same thing, there’s a whole set of questions on quora.com asking exactly that question. It is a question blossoming on all our entrepreneurial  lips, “how can I find my passion / element / positive synonym”. Are we the dysfunctional few, do we have a hole in our heads or heart where our passion should be? What kind of people are we, how can we achieve all this greatness promised to us when we are missing such a fundamentally important component.

Seek and ye shall find

The current way of thinking seems to be that we must find and try out every possible experience to  something that ignites our passion whether it be cooking or SCUBA diving, cycle touring or zoology, brainstorming, talking to people, searching the internet, thinking of what we dream and have dreamt of and more. It’s like we have to blindly sniff out from the world around us what we find entrancing and captivating. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate this activity, and there is nothing wrong with, trying everything available to us in life, it is not only fascinating but it gives us the chance to really experience life rather than let it slide past.

But it is only recently that I have come to an slow realisation that our ‘passion’ might not really be what we are searching for. Or rather our passion might not be as simple as an activity that we can undertake. In Daniel Priestley’s book Entrepreneur revolution he talks about passion a lot but he gets it slightly closer by saying that it is hard to articulate and not just an activity.

“so that the real frustration people have is that they’re expecting passion to hit them like it’s this clarity or clear bolt of lightning, or this hundred percent sentence that says ‘Oh, now I’ve discovered my passion’.”  – Daniel Priestley (2013)

In Simon Sinek’s book Start with why I think he made an important distinction for businesses and individuals when he said you have to start with why and that the outputs in our life or business are merely different ways we manifest our inner belief or purpose.

But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean “to make a profit.” That’s a result. It’s always a result. By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care?” – Simon Sinek (2009)

I think both writers have the same idea, articulated differently, furthermore, it explains why people like me are finding it difficult to find the activity we are passionate about, because we’re framing it all wrong. It’s not right for us to ask “What is my passion?” but we should rather be asking “What is it that makes me do the things I enjoy?”

It’s not what we do, it’s what motivates us

I think this is so key, that I’m going to reiterate it. People undertaking a quest to discover their particular ‘passion’ are, for the most part, asking it in the wrong way. All our activities, all the things that make us get up in the morning, are just the whats and hows for our personal why.

People are searching for passion in the activities that we perform or hobbies that we enjoy. We get disheartened when something we like doesn’t constitute the all consuming passion that we think should be there. We are thinking as Daniel Priestley stated above, that there should be one clear and concise answer to a very complicated question.

We are looking for a simple answer, there are no simple answers for something as important as your life purpose. If it were so simple we wouldn’t need to search for it.

So why the confusion? I think partly it’s semantics, people who are successful have usually found a way to turn their purpose into a tangible activity that produces money. Some people point to artists, dancers and musicians who have found their element.  I can’t deny these people have achieved considerable success in what they do. I think though that these creative or business outlets are only part of the picture.

Many successful people are lucky enough to be passionate about a very particular activity, Olympians, world class magicians, Nobel prize winners, business men and women know why they get up in the morning, because they love what they do. It’s their raison d’être it’s not only their why but fortunately for them it’s a very clear activity as well. If you really are passionate about a hobby or activity it’s likely you already know it and do it every moment that you aren’t working already.

So where do we go from here?

I’m on a mission to find my purpose, my why, the reason I get up in the morning, not just some activities I enjoy but the reason behind the activities.

So for the next few weeks I’ll find methods, exercises and methods to help discover those things, post them here along with my review as to how they worked.

If you know of any methods to find your purpose or passion which focus on the why and NOT the activities let me know in the comments below and I promise I’ll try them out too :).

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120

What contracts should exist between the community and the individual?

Contracts between a community and an individual seems initially repellent, as an idea. Although in such a complex environment with a society that pays individuals has ideas of ownership of goods and has mandatory regimes and possible punishments it seems necessary for an exhaustive legal and insurance based contract must exist if not for lifetime members at least then for transitory members who ware there for the university/ higher education learning / experience.

Contracts will likely include:

  • Forms of payments.
  • Acceptance of punitive measures in cases of inappropriate behaviour.
  • Minimum terms, training periods.
  • Insurance and healthcare.
  • Liability and external payments.

Now I am not a lawyer so there needs to be some legal representation to confirm the legal contract is acceptable. Eventually legally trained and qualified members of the community may well exist.

Also there may be variations of the contract in different host nations to correctly comply with civil law in that country as such there should be a publicly available (and translated) template that anyone can read with an up to date guide through the clauses and the reasons for each part so that the lay person can understand.

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119

What are the minimum and maximum ages one should be allowed to enter?

This will no doubt change over time as the organisation grows and lifespan increases. The upper limit on age will be only guesswork. Certainly the panels created to deliberate entrance  should take into account someones age till retirement or equally their youth. Initially, 18+ seems a reasonable standard and up to 60-65 as a maximum age.

However, it depends on how the community grows if eventually it offers an education system from infancy to university, the “starting age” drops dramatically if it starts an orphanage education system in developing countries it could drop to the new born.

Equally, life expectancy grows presently around 3 months a year so predicting a maximum age is very difficult.

These figures should be reviewed and debated regularly especially with relevant community changes or breakthroughs in longevity.

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118

What amount of vacation is acceptable?

The number mandated by countries of paid vacation days varies a lot. The best would be around 30 days of paid leave + national / public holidays. These should allow members to travel home for important festivals and family gatherings, it should also give much needed rest from community chores and give you exposure to a different lifestyle.

Additional mandated vacation will occur on a regular 2 or 3 year basis, where members are sent on sabbatical or abroad to broaden their experience of the world (e50).

Finally, there should probably be a variation of days for permanent and transitory members but not too vast.

The most complicated elements  would be in assuring the ‘pay’ into the savings account and holidays should only really be allowed at the end of the 6 month grace period.

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117

What methods will exist for changing current or future mandates, regulations and amending or rewriting the constitution?

As described earlier (e76) there should be regular committees who rewrite the rules and regulations to reflect the changes of thinking of the time, what was considered moral or scientific fact 40 years ago is very different to now.

The other time it would be necessary is if an individual calls into question a rule or procedure, in this case a new debate committee will be formed and the reasoning behind the old rule will be reviewed and discussions with those involved.

Each debate on changing the regulation needs a 2/3 majority for or against if this doesn’t occur the group is expanded until a consensus is voted on.

Ultimately if the issue is consistently undecided it will involve the entire community at which point if threatening to destabilize the community into camps there will be a think tank on a better third solution and the elected official in charge will make a decision with the larger majority.

Disputes of this nature should be avoided from the outset by not writing or creating regulations that divide opinions so radically.

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116

What methods of teaching will be employed?

There are various themes in pedagogy that cater to different types of learner so classes should do their best to reflect these types in the classroom.

There should be a division between lectures and seminars/lab work, or theory and practice/debate. This means information is distributed en mass initally and the discussed in smaller groups for clarification.

As stated earlier (e8) students who are proficient in a topic, mitosis for example, should be able to help assist teaching those of a lower level covering that subject. By explaining a topic one comes to understand it better.

Each high level student will have a mentor he can refer or defer to in times of need and have dialogues with. A mentor must be at least a number of grades above the student.

E-learning will be progressively worked on as will videos created to explain all topics in the subject, complete with questions to assess comprehension and open questions that students might consider writing experiments for, contemplate on or engage in dialogue about.

New methodologies of teaching should constantly be assessed and debated. Also all new members should have some exposure to teaching seminars and lectures [not just participating].

[Note: In the years since I’ve written this the rise of MOOC’s and available resources for learning everything from code to languages has exploded across the internet, in this case these give the community nearly all the material required to created an extremely nuanced hierarchy of grades without lifting a finger. However, all free open projects should be given as much support as possible via the community to continually help and improve their services. I know these initial thoughts were written on buses and trains around town, each one of them could be the basis of whole books in themselves, however the good news is there is a huge wellspring of available resources now to help any community member learn an incredible amount even if they are the first in the community to express an interest in the field.]

 

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115

What system of dialogue will be implemented?

The concern of a dialogue is not to win an argument but to forge a greater understanding of the matter being discussed. Aristotle described and classified 4 types of arguments didactic, dialectical, examination arguments and contentious arguments. It wasn’t until recently and Waltron’s research which modernized the thoughts behind dialogues (1998).

In the new dialectic an argument is always an argument “for a purpose” whether for one person or another’s benefit, each speaker may have a goal or motive.

Types of dialogue

TYPEINITIAL SITUATIONMAIN GOALPARTICIPANTS AIM
Persuasion dialogueConflicting points of viewResolution such problems by verbal meansPersuade the other(s) in the dialogue
NegotiationConflict of interests and need for more cooperationMaking a dealGet the best out of it for oneself
InquiryGeneral ignoranceGrowth of knowledge and agreementFind a proof or destroy one
DeliberationNeed for actionReach a decisionInfluence outcome
Information seekingPersonal ignoranceSpreading knowledge and revealing postionsGain, pass on, show or hide personal knowledge
EristicsConflict and antagonismReaching a, provisional, accommodation in a relationshipStrike the other party and win in the eyes of onlookers.

The system used in the community will usually be an inquiry, persuasion or information seeking dialogue. To make it easier to tell when a dialogue has started key phrases might be worthwhile idea like “So we are discussing X now correct?” I need more research into dialogues before I write more entries.

[note: Dialogues are a form of discussion, not necessarily a debate, they were used as a teaching and reasoning method for thousands of years before falling out of vogue in recent times. The idea of discussing a principle with structured debate not just speaking louder or interrupting is a sorely required  skill in the modern era. Remaining calm, noting logical fallacies in other arguments and our own is fundamental. It is especially useful in a community that actively seeks to improve itself, and where everyone should be able to voice an opinion.]

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114

What methods will be used to monitor and decide the continuation of projects or research?

Some channels of research can take a long time to prove, disprove or found to be impossible or pointless. If time is the only issue this should not be considered an issue. Members have left the normal way of living to exist in a place of study and research, if they wish to spend 30 years of their life investing, time and effort into a theory it is their choice. However, should a commanding piece of evidence occur to completely negate their work or through its success make other other projects redundant the research / product is subject to review. Regular meetings and conferences should be organised meetings and conferences should be created where peers can discuss informally or to an audience the trials and results of their research all research and results are posted automatically online to the community and after the study is completed to the world for peer review.

All studies should be part of an open peer review service held within an extremely searchable format allowing people to quickly find relevant studies or similar experiments in the same area. These studies can subsequently linked to by on-line writers to show references the critiques of the paper, similar studies that have the same conclusion papers that have alternative or conflicting results.

The only significant barrier to continuing or starting research then is capital and the cost of obtaining the necessary equipment or tests (a CERN sized LHC is hard to find). In such cases it will depend of the size of the community, the R&D teams within the community and the importance of the research.

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113

What fields of science, technology and education will the community endorse?

Due to primarily working on a practical development, skills and reasoning platform, there will initially be a focus on the areas of science, research and engineering (computer/electrical). With a broad base of the basic sciences mathematics and logical reasoning. Ultimately, the community should endorse, teach and promote all the legitimate forms of science and even assess the claims of things considered pseudo-sciences as well.

Initially the organisation will be small and this so this may result in certain certain subject or entire departments having only one person. In time these will fill to reasonable sizes and have more members to spread the duties among, the more time can be dedicated to unique and specialist areas.

There should be a special interest in promoting programming and computer science skills to every member as the ability to develop software is useful in almost any scientific discipline.

[note: computer science skills should also be taught as they should be the bread and butter skill of the community, allowing the community to work en mass on projects to improve them imagine having 5000 community members working on improving a project like Ubuntu or LibreOffice and the amazing strides those projects could make with simple bug fixes being implemented.

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112

What types of research will the community endorse?

As long as the research does not go against the ethical oath [e57] of the community it should be allowed. Initially there will be limitations of scale and time constraints, represented disciplines e.t.c. But personal research should be given as much autonomy as possible. When it comes to resource usage, available equipment or problems of costs, there must be a meeting with the head of the relevant departments to request a loan, grant or new equipment. A project requirements document is needed [e62]. Conversely while projects can be endorsed that tackle similar subjects there is a focus on collaboration, so having 3 people doing the same thing seems like a waste. There should be a clear database of projects that are currently in progress to avoid such problems (or at least a list of projects internal to the country not including others).

[note: Massive projects and subjects require hundreds of concurrent teams collaborating, projects can also be approached from a number of novel angles. We could take cancer cure research or A.I as two examples where there are a vast variety of methods being applied to try and discover the best way to solve the problem. Similarly pure research into subjects such as climate change have thousands of teams researching a whole host of elements, while two teams doing precisely the same thing is not useful (unless of course there are multiple teams working on replicating research for peer review) there are a number of reasons that multiple avenues of research may run in parallel.

The database of current projects though is a great idea, more than this a list of potential project or research ideas could be added to the list allowing people to browse research that is considered open for review or investigation.]

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