It’s not a question that get’s asked much in an age of Gary Vaynerchuk and “passions”, but isn’t believing in what you do more important than a mere personal hobby or past-time that the word “passion” would indicate?
Gary V. devoted himself to wine. That’s his passion, and the basis for his popular book (Crush It!) on doing what you’re passionate about. But what if I can’t devote all of my energies into a single interest? What if I have too many hobbies (AKA “passions”) to pick just three, let alone one? Doesn’t that get a bit unbalanced? I know I have about 20+ fairly serious interests spanning from physical/sport to intellectual to the arts (like movies, for example, or music). Any of those could be called a “passion” for me (not just a mere interest, but an all-out passion), but I believe in only a very small fraction of them as worthy of devoting a lifetime to. This may seem like a philosophical math problem, but it’s really not.
So what do we do, Gary V., we for whom the world is simply too big a place to narrow it down to just one interest? Simple: we do what we believe in, ie., what we see as a spiritual expression of our truest selves, as well as a marketable commodity. I know, many are saying to themselves, not another one of those (insert the ignorant slur here). But who the hell cares what they say? After all, they don’t believe in the same things I do. This is about principles and values, after all.
So I’m now in the middle of a new project, but it’s within a category already fairly full of fairly successful competitors. My solution is to focus on a niche that would appear obvious, yet no one seems to have covered it. Moreover, I’m not going to give it away here. People will just have to stumble across this thing via luck (or more likely, the marketing promotions to come). In the end, this is what will give the project its edge and power–that I don’t beat people over the head with it, but allow it to be savored like a fine Napa Pinot Noir, a great Fujian province Ti Kuan Yin oolong, a fine Vermont aged white cheddar, or a delectably rich Belgian chocolate, or…well you get the idea. And no my passion for food isn’t the project. But you may already see that it easily could have been, if it were simply to be a mere “passion”. I mean, I can probably name 14 different flavors of Ben and Jerry’s, all of the incarnations of fruit-mixed coca-cola variations, and even tell you what’s good to drink with about 50 different Sichuan dishes, to boot. But that’s not a life-focus for me.
What’s the takeaway here? Maybe just to ask: do you really, and I mean really love what you currently do? Does it provide you with opportunities to embody your deepest core beliefs about what’s important about being alive? Will it, looking back, be something that feels like the most kind bestowal upon you and others that could have been? And if not, shouldn’t you start trying to find a way to the mode of work that will?