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07 2011

The Problem With Passion

Syndicated from: The Essential Message

The Problem With Passion Having trouble answering the question, ‘What’s your passion?’ Of course you are… ‘Follow your passion and the money will follow’, or so the sage advice goes. Never mind for a moment about whether that’s true or not… how do you even go about identifying what your passion is? If you’re like most people, identifying your passion is a challenge. People tend to answer the question above with a mashup of different things, such as: the activity they like to do (“I am passionate about teaching”); the people they like to work with (“I enjoy working with entrepreneurs”); the environment they like to be in (“I love the energy of the music industry”); a result (“I want to make people laugh”); what they think they are skillful at (‘I am good at problem-solving’). All of these attempts at defining passion are helpful, but none of them pinpoint what you are actually passionate about. In 2006, I developed a workshop and workbook I called ‘Dr. Credibility’. The underlying basis of the exercise is that while years of experience, testimonials and endorsements, and the number of letters after your name are all helpful in establishing credibility, your TRUE credibility (the credibility that counts) is a function of your ability to take a diagnostic approach. Help your clients connect the dots between the symptoms and the causes of the problems they are experiencing, and you’ve established credibility. In the actual exercise, you explore the symptoms as well as the root causes and problems that you address. But as I guided more and more people through the exercise, I began to notice a pattern: most people discovered (to their surprise) that the true root cause they addressed — usually subconsciously — was far more personal and profound than they had ever realized. What’s more, the true root cause often pinpointed their unique approach, differentiation, personal brand, competitive advantage… and yes, passion. It was like they were drawn to solve certain, very specific problems borne from their own life experiences — like the nutritionist who developed a comprehensive treatment program after witnessing the slow death of an anorexic teenager who was being treated with nutrition alone; like the cop-turned-financial advisor who was so fed up dealing with shady characters, he built transparency into every process of his financial services business; like the real estate agent who couldn’t help but imagine how every single house she walked into could be simply renovated to create rental income because that’s how she managed to make ends meet as a young woman. Even my own expertise in differentiation can be tracked back to my childhood experience. In each case, passion was defined by the problem these people were driven to solve; everything else — the actual activity, the environment or industry, the skill — was context. So instead of asking yourself, ‘what’s my passion?’ try asking, ‘what’s my problem?’ And you just might find your passion… Essentially yours, Michel Neray Chief Differentiation Officer The Essential Message P.S. If you want to take a look at the Dr. Credibility workbook, click here.

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