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 ()
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 ( )
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 :).
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.
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.
What methods of self promotion or publicity will the community employ? There are three reasons, which immediately occur to me, to publicise oneself; reason one, is to find new members; the second is to find work and the third is to let people know what services you offer.
Secondary reasons are that such publicity can help correctly tell society who we are and what our motivations are.
As mentioned in previous entries it is necessary that we interact with the local community this word of mouth and actively approaching organisations is in itself a form of promotion. Offering cheap services to businesses and open source solutions to local administration and civil institutions, or simply providing free supplementary teacher aids to teach subjects like science, computing or debating skills, allowing the public to be members of the community dojo e.t.c. All of the above will be methods to promote the community.
Active ventures will include stalls at career days for colleges and universities showing people and the alternatives to the traditional systems. Conferences on subjects to engage the public interest writing peer reviews for the scientific community or a free science column for local newspapers.
Essentially, promotion should not be done simply for the sake of promotion or self praise, but should occur out of genuine effort to help the general public and offer advice, education and help.
[note: since I wrote this in a book over 2 years ago, I have been struggling to create a language school, learning a great deal about promotion, sales, attracting attention and all that implies. While this the core reason I haven’t been writing up my community notes I realise how naïve I was when I wrote the above. It is an incredibly difficult process to sell something new to the public. This doesn’t negate what I said, public promotion selling our services and reaching out to the public is necessary but a solid plan of how to do that is very necessary. Also any teacher help, courses and writing science columns would only be accepted once the community has managed to establish itself as a reliable organisation without an agenda.]
I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who reads this blog, but that aside I should explain that I am in the process of creating a language centre in France, not that it’s a real excuse at to why I haven’t continued my writing, I have had plenty of time to watch TV shows and waste my time on other pursuits.
The school is still in a fragile state and we are slowly gathering students, the concept of the community has not completely left me, I think my ideas have matured a lot since I wrote them down but I shall continue to write up my original thoughts on a more regular basis.
More to the fact, running an educational institution, or any kind of business at all, is going to be a very useful experience to help me consolidate and clarify my thoughts as to how the community might be able to work.
What do members do?
Primarily, members research, study, teach and practise their skills as much as possible. On top of this they will have additional duties for the benefit of the community as a whole and physical and mental training as part of their daily routines.
Duties will comprise of community chores like farming, laundry, lab work, cooking. Elected duties such as administrating departments, regulatory matters, community decisions and contractual duties – using ones skills for external groups, peer reviews of studied papers, working on community software and open source educational tools.
There should be a balance between reason, aesthetic and physical conditioning to create well balanced individuals.
[note:These ideas are developed much more in later posts, including specialised positions and methods of electing officials etc.]
So I’m still on holiday here in Lisbon, hence the lack of posts in any regard or work towards any of my projects. Still, considering all the plans I have for the upcoming few months having a holiday now is much better than trying to have one later.
Lisbon is as great as I remember it, although I’m in a very different part of town called Alfama. It’s the oldest part of Lisbon and sadly, it looks it. Despite the crumbling buildings it’s well worth visiting, listening to Fado (traditional Portuguese music and eating Sardines, chilling out at the castle. Also it’s different being here with a girlfriend we’ve done very different things and I’ve seen stuff I probably would have missed by myself.
On that note if you get a chance, go to the zoo! It’s a fantastic one, lots of animals in nice habitats; dolphin and seal shows. Very impressed.
Right off to enjoy our last day shopping and chilling out before coming back to Toulouse for an extreme amount of work. Plus we have to leave around 4 in the morning just to get the flight… Arrghh.