There’s a lot of advice being given out nowadays on finding your passion and your perfect path to fulfillment. This has led some people, not feeling passionate about what they are doing at this time in their lives, to discard a lot of good stuff in addition to whatever may be holding them back.
Whenever I do personal coaching for someone, I like to explore three questions:
1. What were your earliest strong aspirations in terms of a career?
For me, the answer is always writing. I probably got the first spark in the lighting of this fire within from my mother, Minnie Gillies. She was a voracious reader as I now am, and she was a frustrated writer. Mom had written a number of short stories before she was married and even sold one to a small magazine. She taught me to read at the age of three. She was no longer writing stories, but confined her efforts in that area to a daily diary.
2. When you were a child, what was the thing you were most praised for doing well?
For me, it was writing again. I did very well in English classes, rather poorly in gym and shop. I think I decided to be a writer at nine or ten, and by Junior High School, I had my own humor column in the school paper.
3. What is something missing in the activity that motivated you and other people appreciated?
For me, that was social skills and just generally interacting with others. Playing the class clown was about my only real interpersonal contact through high school. Writing is a lonely activity and I was definitely very shy and socially inept through most of my teens.
Now, here’s the important piece: I never discarded my sense of humor and writing skills. They served me well as I added speaking to others to my repertoire, first as a radio broadcaster/newsman, and then as a public speaker and workshop leader. But I kept reading and writing. I didn’t eliminate one thing to go on to the next, but incorporated what I was already good at into any new passion.
Of course, this is the basic premise of the old saying, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” Wikipedia defines this as:
“Something good is eliminated when trying to get rid of something bad, or in other words, rejecting the essential along with the inessential.”
When finding your passion and ideal path in life, you do have to let go of some inessential things. It is important to be sure you don’t reject the essential at the same time. Also, holding onto some of your earliest passions and successes will make it a lot easier to deal with the uncertainty and occasional disappointment when you bring new potential passions and successes into your life.