One of my mentors, Brian Tracy, used to think that making plans and setting goals was the starting point to great achievements in life. After a while he changed his mind because he realized that something else may prime…
“What comes first is the acceptance of complete responsibility for yourself and for everything that happens to you.”
He goes on by saying that real maturity begins when you realize that nobody comes to save you.
“It is only when you have accepted 100% responsibility for yourself that you are ready to go down to the next step and decide what it is exactly that you want…”
And, as if this wasn’t enough, I (and others) have deducted follow-up maxims from Brian’s advice…
From Integrity to Mastery to Passion
I don’t know and I don’t care how some folks can build wealth (financial) without having a solid foundation of integrity at the base of everything they do. Many really successful people, however, consider integrity as one of their most important core value.
What I learned empirically and through study is that you cannot make something to last longer (or forever) unless you posses this trait of character. But what is integrity?
The dictionary tells us that:
“Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”
Being honest is being true to yourself. Being true to yourself requires accepting 100% responsibility for who you are and for where you are right now…There’s no one to blame; there has to be no complain. Otherwise, you’re focusing into the wrong direction.
You see how well everything adds together?!
Only from these strong foundations you can safely proceed to the next level. Building skills, setting goals and making plans…But first, let me debunk another myth.
You hear them saying “follow your passion” or “find your passion” as a general non-debatable advice that every human being should embrace…
If it were that easy?! Most people don’t know what they want from life, they have no passion, no goal, no direction whatsoever…
Some others move from one thing to another without finding that passion.
I stopped believing in the “follow your passion” message long ago. I don’t want to waste my precious time looking for the “passion”. Like Cal Newport, I consistently build my passion(s) strategically.
Mastery builds Passion
I believe that passion can come second for many people.
First you start doing something. You hate it because your mind uses tremendous energy to do it (example: learning to code, drive, dance, play a musical instrument, etc). As you do it more often, your build stronger synapses around your skill; it becomes easier and you do it faster…
Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so unpleasant after all…See Loretta Breuning’s work in neurochemistry for a more detailed anatomical explanation.
As you keep doing your thing and as you become better at it, you can start building mastery. When you’ve achieved mastery, most often you will have discovered that you’re passionate about your skill…Let me illustrate.
Back in 2010, I started searching for ways to generate income on the Internet. I was still in school and I wanted to use my online time more efficiently, instead of just wasting it on mindless continuous entertainment.
I found a website where I could tutor students in various different topics. Math and sciences were the hot ones. Every tutor was good at those. Dozens of daily requests would pile up for these topics. The supply (tutors providing solutions) was as high.
So, it may have been easier to tutor in math, but since I was new on the website, I stood no chance to the tutors with high reputation and hundreds of reviews on their profiles…
Think about it from the perspective of a student: when you post your math problem and you receive dozens of replies, which one are you likely to choose?! Obviously, you wouldn’t risk getting your solution from someone with basically no (or low) activity on his profile…
So I had to find a work-around or focus on something else to make money…
I wasn’t going to quit. I started filtering student request based on the number of tutor replies. I noticed that the least tutor replies were on topics like History and Economics. Damn, I hated these subjects…
As I grew up, I often said to myself that I will stay away from economics and everything related to it…Now, as an aspiring tutor, what was it left for me to do?!
I neglected my strong repulsion for these subjects and I started working on projects and assignments that had been listed for them. I had to read extensively to become familiar with these topics, become familiar with the required formats of the assignments, become familiar with the tutoring website, and also become better at interacting with students to sell my tutorials…
It took little time for me to start generating money this way (strategically) because there was enough demand for history and economics but very little supply. Most tutors were focusing on math requests…
As I completed more projects and as started getting paid, I learned associating reward (money) with building skill on these subjects. Out of the sudden, economics and history started becoming less repulsive. As time passed and I as completed more and projects, everything became…enjoyable.
I started getting deeper into the subjects and I started becoming more familiar with topics like: micro and macroeconomics, management, accounting, leadership, finance, world history, U.S. history and other less appealing topics. This is how I built my writing skills, my tutoring skills, and my marketing skills. This is how I got to: reading as a daily habit.
Flash-forward 5 years…
Today, I find myself being passionate about all of them. Go figure!
The bottom line is that if you’re not passionate about anything (yet), forget about the “follow your passion” myth and forget about whatever-mindless-life-advice is given to you.
Start doing something (with integrity as your core value) and start doing it everyday (or as often as possible). In time, if you analyze your feedback and if you improve yourself based on your past results, you will become better at it. It will take a while until you will become very skillful, and eventually achieve mastery…
By the time you achieve mastery in that field, topic, or skill, you will not have to worry about money or passion again.
Some other tips from Brian
My mentor thinks that moving to the top of your field requires you to invest 3% of your income back into yourself. To achieve mastery, you have to choose yourself first…
Disregard the 3% and focus on the message: “Invest in you first“. Brian’s 3-step strategy involves:
1. Spending a part of your income (even a very small part is sufficient) on personal research and development. If don’t want to spend money, spend some time on upgrading your skills everyday, on becoming better and on performing them faster…
You have the world’s knowledge at your fingertips (the Internet). Use it! And do it wisely…
2. Read for 1 hour each day in your chosen field and take careful notes that you can review readily. Here’s what I did, and I still do…
3. Listen to audiobooks…or podcasts, or lectures, or presentations…or any information relevant to your field that can be digested in audio format. Here’s how I do it…
With knowledge and (most importantly) with practice you will become better everyday. In time you will increase your self-confidence, and eventually, your self-esteem.
“Follow your passion” or “Find your passion” are two messages that work for very few people. They are still valid, but only for the very few. Instead, you may consider the more proactive alternatives:
Create your Passion
Develop your Passion
You don’t have to waste your life thinking that you have no passion.
Stop being a cry-baby and start doing something, and do it today! Whatever small step you have to take into developing your skill, in achieving mastery, and in growing a passion for something, take that small step today.
And if it’s possible take it now! Otherwise, it will always remain in the backburner of your mind…
1. Brian Tracy – The Science of Self-Confidence
2. Loretta Breuning – Meet Your Happy Chemicals – Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin
3. Cal Newport – So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work you Love
4. Robert Greene – Mastery
5. Stephen Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Powerful Lessons in Personal Change