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How to find your

passion
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Too many of us believe in a magical


being called passion. If only I could
find my passion, we cry. Finding my
passion would make me happy.

Well, passion is real, and very powerful. But almost


everything people believe about finding it is wrong.

Rule 1: Passion comes from success


All of our emotions exist for good reason. We feel hunger to
ensure we dont starve. We feel full to ensure we dont

burst. And we feel passion to ensure we concentrate our


efforts on things that reward us the most.

Imagine you start a dance class. You find it easy. You realise
youre getting better than others, and fast. That rising

excitement you feel is your passion, and that passion makes


you come back for more, improving your skills, and
compounding your strengths.

The enemy of passion is frustration. If you constantly

struggle with something, youll never become passionate


about it. You learn to avoid it entirely, guaranteeing you
never improve.

Most people get this backwards. They think we discover our


passion, and that makes us good at something. Its actually
finding that youre good which comes first. Passion comes
from success.

Rule 2: Childhood is where passion


goes to die
In theory childhood provides a great opportunity to try a bit
of everything, find your talents, and with them, your
passions.

But think for a moment how badly the system is stacked

against you. Say school lets you try 20 subjects, ranking you
against thousands of other children. Those arent good

odds. Most kids are, by definition, around average. And it


doesnt matter how much we improve education, because
people need to feel exceptional to feel passionate, and
improving education simply moves up the average.

Say youre one of the lucky ones, and youre top of your

junior math class. The education system will keep rising

your difficulty until you find a level like college where


youre not exceptional anymore. Even if you actually are

objectively pretty great, once you feel merely average, youll


find your passion slipping.

And thats if youre lucky. What if your passion was for art?

From an early age that passion is compromised by its social

consequences. Its hard to make a living from painting say


your parents. Your cousin is doing so well from

engineering. Why cant you be more like him? And so you


put your passions to one side, and let them wither.

In a population of billions, its obvious that not everyone can


be unusually great at a handful of academic subjects. What

if your true skills are in speechwriting, or creative dance, or


making YouTube commentaries of videogames? None of
those things are even on the syllabus.

And so most people grow up without much passion for


anything.

Rule 3: Passion can be created


It may help to know that the most successful people in life
generally didnt pick their passion off a shelf.

In fact, many of the worlds most successful people dropped


out of education entirely. Not because they were stupid
but because they found other areas where they were more

skilled that education did not recognise.


They created their own passions.

Only a tiny fraction of people can expect to excel in the


narrow subjects that childhood primes us for. And

competition in that space is basically everybody in the

world who went to school, which doesnt help our chances.


But if you look outside of that space, youll find less

competition, and more options. And this is how you tip the
odds of finding a passion in your favour.

Option 1: Create something


When you create something new, youre inventing
something to be passionate about.

You might design novelty cushions, or write Batman stories,


or start a Twitter account dedicated to fact-checking
politicians.

New things are relatively uncontested. By creating

something new, youve made your odds of becoming


exceptional far, far higher.

Now its important to note that this doesnt sidestep Rule


#1: passion comes from success. So if your new Twitter

account only has 5 followers after a year, you probably wont


be too passionate about it. If you had 5 million, youd have
quit your job. You must find success to fuel your passion.

But at least youve drastically improved your odds, because

your competition is so limited. Only a handful of people will


even dare to try something new. And you can be one of
them, just by starting.

You see this pattern throughout historys greats. A student


called Mark was never going to be the worlds greatest

programmer. But he started building cool websites, and he


found he was unusually good at this because even better

programmers rarely dared to try. It just so happens one of his


little experiments became Facebook.

Option 2: Lead a new trend


The older and more established an area is, the harder it will
be to compete in. Millions have got there before you, and

the lower your odds of standing out, the lower your odds of

being passionate.
But theres always a new frontier being born, a place where
everyone else is hopelessly incapable, and even modest
skills can be impressive.

Say you were a teenager who started making YouTube

videos, back in 2005. You grow a modest following, and

your growing success excites you. By the time the grown up


world had realised YouTube was Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal with 4
billion views every single day, youve become a passionate
master of an invaluable new craft.

That isnt fantasy. There are mountains of hugely successful


YouTubers, and most started in the same way: before

everybody else. Its the same for the first bloggers, rappers,
and videogame designers.

If you can find something new thats growing fast, and get
skilled at it early, youll find it disproportionately easy to
excel because of the lack of competition. And thats your
new passion right there.

Option 3: Fuse mediocrity


One limitation of education is its designed to narrow your
skills. Education generally finds your One Best Thing, and
pushes that thing as far as you can stand it:

The problem is most of us, by definition, cant be the best in


any one area. But we can be exceptional in our combinations.

Say youre an average artist, with a decent sense of humour.

You wont have much hope with an art degree, and you cant
study humour as a subject. But you could be an awesome
cartoonist.

Or take an average business student, with some

programming ability, and decent sales skills. That person is


surprisingly well suited to become the boss of others who
were better than them in any one of those areas.

The most successful people are almost never defined by a


single skill. They are a fusion of skills, often not even

exceptional skills, but theyve made their fusion exceptional.


Steve Jobs was not the worlds greatest engineer,

salesperson, designer or businessman. But he was uniquely

good enough at all of these things, and wove them together


into something far greater.

This is the final route you have to finding your passion:


combine skills into something more valuable. Remember,

passion comes from success. If a new combination gets you


better results, that could be your passion right there.

Why passion matters


Passion is attractive. As passion comes from believing youre
unusually good at something, being passionate is a very
sincere way of saying, by the way, Im awesome.

Passion will persuade people to follow you. It will persuade

people to believe in you. But most importantly, passion will


persuade yourself. Passion is an emotion specifically

intended to make you go crazy and work your ass off at

something because your brain believes it could rock your


world. That, like love, is a feeling worth fighting for.

And like love, what were passionate about is too important


to leave to the mercy of fate. If you havent found your

passion yet, create new things, lead new trends, and fuse
new combinations. But dont ever stop looking.

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Comments
29 Comments

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Oliver Emberton

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Damselfly

5 days ago

I'm passionate about reading your blogposts! Seriously though, you have a way
of framing reality that helps me act on my passion and focus on my energy.
Thank you.
29

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Florent Berthet

5 days ago

This should be a must-read at school.


7

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oliveremberton

Mod

> Florent Berthet 5 days ago

Ironically if it was, I'd have to change the article ^_^


10

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10
Maria

Reply Share

5 days ago

Thank you very much, Oliver, you give me hope.


I have already found my passion, it requires a great deal of hard work and I'm
not always sure I can manage it, there are always lots of these and those, but in
your posts you boil it down to such simple things that it becomes much easier to
forget about all the ifs and just keep on mastering my passion.
7

Maslow

Reply Share

5 days ago

This is so true I can't believe I never realized it.


I've shared it... I know some people who should really read this
3

Farmer R.

Reply Share

5 days ago

So true. Really good advice.


3

Surabhi

Reply Share

3 days ago

Hey Oliver, this was a great read!


Maybe there could be an option 4: (Socially)Fuse mediocrity- Surround yourself
with people(co-workers, spouse or otherwise), such that your combined abilities
lead you to the phenomenal success that would fuel your passions!
What do you say?
2

Reply Share

Ivan Zakharov

3 days ago

Thanks. I can feel the energy is so uplifting :D


1

Houssam

Reply Share

5 days ago

Awesome as usual :D Looking forward to your next article !


1

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Matthew Rowe

5 days ago

This is great. It's really opened my eyes. I always wanted to be a writer and I
enjoy it but it's just too competitive for me to fully enjoy it and I worry too much
about not doing it when I should. I need to find something unique but I'm
usually late to the bandwagon. What will be the next new thing? I need to figure
it out.
1

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Anitha Choudhary

5 days ago

Great read Oliver...Thanks!!!


1

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sateesh kumar

a day ago

YouTube in 2001? :)

Reply Share

Laisa

2 days ago

I wish people will spend more time being as humorous and critical as you. I
really needed to read this!
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Dkibal

2 days ago

This should be a must-read for wannabe parents! :) Great article, as usual. I feel
like for the first time I have read no-BS advice on finding your passion. Thank
you so much for this new perspective!

Reply Share

Brandon Ho

3 days ago

Fusion is so important. I resonate with that point.


I actually keep doing this thing. Thank you for your inspiring article.
It makes me feel surefire that I am running on the right trail.

Reply Share

Krithika Rangarajan

3 days ago

Brilliant - absolutely brilliant!


Passion alone will get us nowhere. Success requires several dollops of patience
and persistence to complement our passion.
Words have strengthened, stimulated and seduced me for as long as I can
remember, but my culture always promoted Engineering and Medicine as the
only lucrative (and sensible) fields. Hence, I shunned my love for writing and
ventured on the safe path.
After spending four years as a mediocre Telecom Consultant and becoming
victimized by an Eating Disorder, I finally found the courage to say NO to
'convention'. I am now committed to making a living as a writer - thank you so
much for your lovely illustrations and unvarnished truth. #HUGSSSS
Much love
Kitto

Reply Share

Mals

3 days ago

Thanks for posting. It feels good when you read what you are thinking of !! A
strange connection that you are not the only crazy fellow who thinks anybody
can be successful!! :)

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Nikshep

3 days ago

Love your insight about inter-weaving seemingly different skill-sets to discover


your genius :) Awesome post!
Reply Share

Spyros Maniatopoulos

3 days ago

Great post! And here's the detailed how-to folks:


https://www.goodreads.com/book...
Btw, have you read "So Good They Can't Ignore You", Oliver? Your post feels
like a partial summary of it (in a good way).
Reply Share


Merita

4 days ago

I needed this now, a reminder. Thank you :)


Reply Share


Zaynab

4 days ago

I really love your blog. But I have found that sometimes passion dies away with
time. I became a designer because I was very passionate about creating beautiful
things but after many jobs and clients, I don't feel that passion anymore. I even
sometimes feel like I hate it. Do you think it's because I turned a passion into
earning a living?
Reply Share

Damselfly > Zaynab

4 days ago

Can you become passionate about the processes, what you are creating,
or for people/organizations that you are creating for? Perhaps the
people-pleasing or technical side of the business has over-shadowed the
creative side? I have been advised as I launch a creative business to be
sure to create for myself at least some of the time, or I will lose my love of
my medium. Even if it is a paid project or one I'll sell sometime later, the
project needs to be something I want to create for the joy of creating.
Good luck.


Steve

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4 days ago

Great article, Oliver!

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Yat Weng Lam

4 days ago

thanks!

Reply Share

Mereana Beconcini

4 days ago

Mereana Beconcini

4 days ago

Damn good read Oliver! I love your style. Brilliant, erudite and inspiring! I've
shared, and I want more.


Martin

Reply Share

5 days ago

Oliver... as always, you nailed it! Thanks a lot for your content, it always makes
my humble days brighter:)

Reply Share

Dan Covic

5 days ago

what an insight ! so profound and yet so simple... thank you Oliver.

Reply Share

anjaneya

5 days ago

Passion is an otherwise very complicated for me. Thanks for breaking it down.
I'm sure there has been a lot of work behind this inspiring piece.

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Oliver Emberton
Founder of Silktide, writer, pianist, programmer, artist and general
busy bee. Here I write about life and how to better it.

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