The passion problem

You might be surprised to learn that many people attending the workshops I give genuinely don’t know where their passions lie. In other words; they don’t know what they like. Isn’t that strange?

No - totally normal in my opinion. 

My grandparents were alive long enough for me to get to know them, at least a little. They lived through two world wars, more than one recession and a depression. They didn’t have Netflix, the Internet or much more than their imagination to entertain themselves.  

My grandfather built a radio - not from a box like the way we assemble furniture we buy in Ikea, he made it from scratch by teaching himself with a book. My grandmother loved to play the fiddle and was an avid reader of fiction. They had busy lives, lots of children to look after and yet still had time for pastimes. They had interests not because they decided it was a good idea, but because they needed to - otherwise, life was boring. 

Nowadays we have an incredible amount of entertainment on our doorstep: cinemas, theatres, fairs, museums, arcades, pubs, bowling alleys to name a few, and we have professionally produced films, documentaries, albums and books all available at the touch of a button. Therefore, it’s not unusual for someone to say that they enjoy their free time 'watching movies and series on Netflix' or 'hanging out with friends’. But where does that leave us with our interests; especially when the WIFI is down!

Then, when it comes to discussing careers, we haven’t had the chance to engage in self-discovery, work on a set of skills on a consistent basis, or discover a whole world of diversions that are out there. We don’t know what we don’t know, and that’s a real shame.

When the next generation enters the workforce - will they know what their interests are?

Did you know what you liked before you liked it? No, you couldn't have; because you had never tried it. Kids don't know that they like running before they run. They run first and then realise how much fun it is. Somewhere along the line they stop trying things and become passive - wanting to know answers before taking any steps. The result is no result. Then, they get stuck, they stagnate and frustration ensues.

Perhaps school has taught them that making mistakes is bad, whereas inaction is safe and doesn't involve criticism. On the other hand, many business people live by the maxim of 'making mistakes quickly' so that they can improve quickly, which makes sense to me. Maybe we should be encouraging mistakes more, not thinking of them as failures, but as progress.

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.
— Niels Bohr, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics