The greatest pain isn’t starting from square one in your search for your passion.
The greatest pain isn’t trying to figure out what your passion is.
The greatest pain isn’t even in choosing your passion.
The greatest pain is the purgatorial rut of “passion adjacent” – knowing you’re only 0.5 degrees misaligned with what you’re supposed to be doing with your life but can’t see what adjustment you need to make to have the puzzle pieces snap in place.
I wish I could say it was easy. That there was some kind of methodology or mental hack to trick yourself into seeing what’s probably under your nose. But there isn’t.
What my experience has shown is that the only rather poor solution to uncovering the small tweak that needs to be made is sticking with the process.
If you give up, you will never uncover the secret. You’ve got to keep digging until you find the gold.
Even more problematic, you will feel like giving up along the way. If you don’t, then you’re not in the game. And you’ve got to be in the game to score let alone win.
How will you ensure that you stay in the game when everything inside of you is screaming “Get out! It’s a waste of time! Stop sacrificing yourself! There’s no winning move!”
There is no strategy.
The only thing you can hope to depend on is your willingness to persevere.
Are you willing to persevere?
There are many amazing leadership programs out there.
But in my observation, there is one major flaw with any I’ve been a part of:
They attempt to turn unique individuals into dogmatic cookie-cutter robots.
Now, there is nothing wrong with learning a methodology. I’m a big believer in ongoing self-education, and I plan to remain a lifelong learner. And I have found value in many methodologies.
Methodologies can offer many benefits – context, communication tools, increased productivity, cognition about oneself, and much more.
But I have yet to find a single program that doesn’t quash the individual in favor of conformity and uniformity – intentionally or unintentionally.
This tends to remove what made the individual uniquely attractive in the first place.
One should never lose sight of their distinctive spark if they hope to become a powerful leader.
That spark is what makes them a leader. They have no chance of becoming an effective leader if they think and behave as everyone else does. It’s because they think and behave as most never do that makes them an effective leader in the first place.
I’ve talked about separating the wheat from the chaff in the context of leadership before, and this is exactly what I mean. It’s almost like a form of post-program stress disorder. Or cognitive dissonance.
You can take the program with you, and you should, but you’ve got to figure out who you were without the program all over again. Because removing from you what made you unique is to your detriment, not a benefit, especially in leadership.
Your ability to think and behave differently is what will make you indispensable to a company or community or organization, no matter how hard your superiors or peers try to turn you into a real-life NPC (characters in role-playing games that can only speak from pre-determined selections of dialog options, like “Hello, welcome to Calgary.”).
Remember – your peers aren’t necessarily as dedicated to their growth as you are to yours.
Certainly, everyone grows at a different rate. But the difference between someone who is trying to keep pace and someone who’s phoning it in should become obvious in short order.
And while you don’t need to have any “Look, I don’t see you growing, and I need to let you go” type conversations, staying in the same spot and hoping for the best could be detrimental to your growth. If you aren’t expanding, you’re shrinking!
In thinking about letting go of what is holding you back, it’s easy to let the guilt get the best of you. “Well, they are good people…” (By the way, I’ve heard people say that about literal sociopaths.)
I agree, though, that there is good in everyone. I don’t know that there is such a thing as “good” people and “bad” people. There are just people, and sometimes they do things we agree with and sometimes they do things that appall us.
Either way, you don’t want to surround yourself with “crabs in a bucket” people, as their only hope is they can keep you at their level for as long as possible. And they will do crazy things to keep you there too.
So, the question is – is the Universe urging you to let go of something right now?
Are you being asked to surrender a relationship, a job, a commitment, a habit, or something else?
If so, are you willing to let go and make space for new things to come into your life?
If you value your growth, you will exercise compassion on yourself and others and let go of what is no longer serving you.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with a variety of approaches:
- I’ve done things sporadically or by the seat of my pants, e.g., writing a new song as inspiration strikes.
- I’ve created schedules based on consistency, e.g., publishing a new blog post once per week.
- I’ve created schedules based on daily habits, e.g., going for a walk once per day.
- I’ve quit things for a period and have returned to them, e.g., writing a book.
What I’ve discovered is that every approach is valid. They are all tools. And as we all know, a hammer is the perfect tool for pounding nails, but not for sawing wood.
The sporadic approach is great for the example given (writing songs as inspiration strikes), especially if your career doesn’t depend on writing songs.
Having a weekly schedule for certain activities is a great way to create expectations with your audience and to remain disciplined in producing something for them (like a podcast).
Daily habits will seem grueling at times, but they can be very fulfilling and rewarding if you stick to them.
The last approach, quitting and starting, starting and quitting, may appear to have the least value at first brush. But we all need to step away from certain activities at certain times. And returning to these passions or projects fresh can spark inspiration as never before. For example, going on vacation for two weeks and leaving your work at home (I mean really leaving your work at home).
To make the most of this, you will need to look at what works best for what activity.
I’ve remained consistent with working out four times per week for several months now, so I know I have a proven, working system for my workouts.
But this system doesn’t work for writing. I find publishing daily truly is the best way, though I have started and stopped this practice on a couple of occasions. I’ve found meditation to be the same way. If I’m not doing it daily, I’m not doing it.
Likewise, with any projects that matter, daily action is the only way. It can be very difficult to get back into a project you haven’t touched in a while and to regain the momentum you had going.
The goal, then, is to find a system that works for everything that matters to you.
Summarily, things do have a way of falling out of existence if not acted upon daily.
In an ideal world, you would do something daily to move your key projects forward.