Last week we spoke about the key to finding your intrinsic motivation and using it to energize your passion at work which is to focus on your strengths. If you’re honest with yourself, you probably don’t know exactly what you’re passionate about. You’ve been so busy serving as a good employee that you may have lost touch with what you’re passionate about. Most of you want to feel like you make a difference at the end of the day, that you helped the world to become a better place by helping others or creating something beautiful to inspire others. You may not be a doctor, a teacher, or an artist, but you can create that same sense of “meaning” in your job. In fact, it’s there already—you’ve just been stepping over it.
Too often people “search” for their passion. They run from job to job, relationship to relationship, place to place searching for passion – only to repeat the same burnout and dissatisfaction. They don’t know how to set the stage for passion. Passion doesn’t have to be searched for. You simply have to be still, quiet the noise and set the stage and your passion will become clear. Certain environment, activities, people and self-thoughts will kill any possibility of passion in your life.
Passion + Unique Ability
Your Passion is what ultimately fulfills you – makes you feel like you made a difference for what is important to you. Your Unique Ability is the activities you not only are terrific at, but that actually give you energy and “charge your batteries”.
Passion is the driving “force” – your energy. Unique Ability is the “activities” you do – your strengths.
Your Unique Ability is a combination of your talent, the passion you have for using it, and the value it creates. The goal is to work 70% of your time within your Unique Ability. Don’t waste time improving your weaknesses. Spend time in your Unique Ability and dump the rest that does not serve you.
Our Mentor, Steve Riley, introduced to us to an exercise created by his mentor, Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach® (www.strategiccoach.com ), The Unique Ability Exercise. We added our own twist to The Unique Ability exercise and it has worked very well for us personally.
Step 1: Answer the following questions.
What things are you NOT so good at?
What things do you NOT enjoy?
What things are you ok at, not great, but ok?
What things are you really good at?
What things are you really great at AND you find fulfillment in doing them? They recharge your spirit and your energy.
What kinds of actions or projects do people most often compliment you on?
Do you see a pattern concerning these expressions of appreciation, gratitude, and acknowledgment?”
Do people keep acknowledging you for similar qualities or skills?
Step 2: Ask 10 people (personal and professional) the following questions.
“What words would you use to describe me?
“What activities do I do well?
“Where do I have endless commitment and passion in my life?
In considering the answers your friends, family and colleagues have given you, review your Unique Ability answers and if necessary, revise. Be sure anything you are adding isn’t just something you are great at, but that it fulfills and energizes you. Don’t waste time and energy to correct “weaknesses”, let it go and don’t get sucked into “well I’ll do it but I don’t really enjoy it”. Some weaknesses can be corrected, like physical weakness, smoking or obesity. But most weak points are inherent in you. The correct response to them is not to try to eliminate them but to put yourself in situations where they are irrelevant or insignificant. It is imperative to know your Unique Ability so you can create the job and life you want and that enables you to get on an eternal growth track.
Once you discover your passion and unique ability, you’ll have to learn how to honor it. As an intrepreneur, it will be a balancing act that you’ll have to continually monitor. There will always be certain tasks that you’ll be required to perform that you’re not good at, or that you dislike. As the responsible team player that you are, you’ll be tempted to force yourself to just do it. You’ll just suck it up and take one for the team. That’s all well and good, and something to be done on occasion; but do it with awareness. Monitor your feelings and moods as you do these non-unique ability tasks, so that you don’t lose your passion, energy, good humor, momentum, and productivity. Know your own limits. If you keep saying “yes!” to every one of these tasks because you’re a “do-gooder” and team player, you’ll end up spending 80, 90, or 100% of your workday engaged in non-unique ability work, and you’ll grow to hate the job you once loved, and wonder why you’re going home from work exhausted.
If you still stuck and wondering “what the heck is my passion?” We recommend you hang out with the right people; they will help unleash it for you. There’s an old saying, “Show me your friend, I’ll show you who you really are.” Hang with the right people, those who call you to be your best, believe in you and encourage you. They don’t “YES” you and let you get away with playing a small game in life (or your BS) and they don’t expect perfection, but expect you to share your greatness over the long-term for a lifetime.
These are the ones who not only call you to be the best that you can be, but who refuse to let you be any less. The right people don’t let you sell yourself short. They believe in you, and encourage you to believe in yourself. They may be in a position as mentors or serve as role models.
No flame of passion can ignite or continue to burn in a vacuum. A world of negative, passionless, going-through-the-motion, goal-free people is a vacuum and an emotional vampire. It will suck out any passion that you have or worse yet, never allow you the space to discover yours.
Stay tuned for 4 more keys to finding your passion. Until then, remember, “When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.”