Respectfully climbing on giants’ shoulders is a thriving exploration: John Hagel’s shoulders (works) are the destination of this post. While climbing, I aim to add a marginal contribution to your new passion; it is a rough sketch that I hope will help you create a new passion.
Passionation encapsulates two powerful forces: passion and imagination. It is an endlessly moving loop of pull and push, where your imagination pulls your passion into unchartered territories, and where your passion pushes your imagination to penetrate unexplored frontiers. In simple words, passion needs imagination, and imagination needs passion.
The pathways for obtaining a passion:
The finding pathway – It is taken by those who are on a quest to claim their passion. Two different types of people travel this pathway:
The dreamers – They embrace the “on-the-side” mentality. They deploy the bulk of their resources (time, efforts, money, etc.) on their full-time jobs and reserve the leftovers to be allocated to their passion.
The travelers – They rationally balance their resources between their current reality and their passions. Once they find their passion, they start to gradually mobilize more of their resources to back it, so that it becomes their profession.
The creating pathway – a riskier and less traveled. Again, two different types of people take this pathway.
The venturers – They dare to undertake new challenges despite the uncertain outcome and high possibility of risk. They are on a mission to create a passion for owning it by leveraging existing resources.
The gamblers – They embrace the “all-in” mentality—those with no strategy, no plan, minimal thinking, and irrational risk-taking.
So, if we plot the two pathways on a straight line, you want to make sure that you belong somewhere in the middle: avoid being among the population of the two far ends (dreamers and gamblers).
With a closer look via a normal distribution curve, the conventional reality might depict that most of the population are spread around the finding pathway.
So, in case you were unlucky with finding your passion via the finding pathway, I would like to invite you to explore the creating pathway: creating a passion, rather than finding it.
The creating pathway draws a distinct line between finding and creating. Finding a passion (normally from within) is an internalizing process: mirroring the external potentials with your inner emotion and capabilities. Whereas, creating a passion, is an externalizing process that evolves your inner emotion (positive or negative) and capabilities (or lack of capabilities) to match the expanding potentials.
The creating pathway whispers at us: if you haven’t yet found your passion, maybe, it is time to realize that it is your duty to create it. But, most of us are guilty of not paying enough attention to its echo (being overwhelmed by finding our passions).
The whisper is trying to teach us that (sometimes) it is not our passions that are lost (ordained to be discovered); it is us who might be lost, and our duty is destined to recreate ourselves, to reach out and grab the abundance of the hanging passions around us.
Most of us treat the finding pathway as an interdependent architecture: us being in the center and trying to gravitate only to the things that have historical or emotional interdependence to our inner self. Whereas, the creating pathway is more of a modular architecture: the universe being in the center, and we are the one who is trying to malleably connect with its potentials (irrespective of our inner feeling toward the obstacles surrounding those potentials).
Such a modular interface enables you to convert a neutral emotion and lack of capability into a differentiated passion, as well as to convert negative emotion and inferior capabilities into a rewarding passion.
The creating pathway enables you to envision the progress of the future “as is,” rather than as what you wish it to be. Thus, it is visualizing future potentials with an emotionless filter. This might sound (at first) a bit cold-blooded way to handle passions. But, being able to neutralize yourself from your past (experiences, qualifications, and emotions) is a liberating endeavor (allowing yourself to freely flow with the future’s trajectory).
However, unlike the finding pathway, where the risk is mainly factored in time (how soon you can discover your passion), with the creating pathway, the risk is factored in time, as well as in your choice. Thus, you need to continuously assess your Return on Passion (“ROP”), to meaningfully identify a yielding trend.
Your imagination is your immigration’s visa from the finding pathway to the creating pathway. So, let us take a simple example (blogging) as an illustration of a passion creation phase.
The Choosing Phase – This might take from a day to a month. You must plug your imagination into a solid framework at this phase. Hagel’s zoom-out/zoom-in is an excellent framework in aiding your imagination in determining what your passion might be.
Then, you need to understand the range (self-actualization) between you and the chosen passion: The creating pathway does not mean that you can convert anything into a yielding passion (there is a limitation to our capabilities and to the available resources).
Finally, you must use your imagination to inflate the potential value (notional value in your head) of this new passion.
Blogging example – While sitting on your couch enjoying Netflix, an idea popped up in your head: you zoomed out and realized that this pandemic (COVID-19) might get prolonged. This means more people spending more time in their homes (consuming more entertainment ‘Netflix’). Thus, why not create a passion, triggered by such a unique situation? So, you decide to create a specialized (writing passion) weekly blog post about Netflix’s shows and originals.
When you assessed the range between you and this new passion, you realized how far the distance is (writing is not your cup of tea). The range is not to terrify you; it enables you to embrace risk via better planning. Even though the range between your current capability (writing skills) and this perceived passion is vast, you need to assess if the required resources in aiding you, are readily available and economically attainable. If so, it worth taking the risk.
Next, unleash your imagination: imagine yourself owning this domain (niche) via a website (maybe an app in the future), where hundreds of thousands depend on your daily review to curate their selections: thus, building a business model supported by reader subscriptions in return for getting a differentiated singular voice in this niche. You may inflate your imagination a bit further; how about Netflix acquiring your website with an attractive multiple of a 7-digit number? Your imagination must be the fertile ground to germinate your passion.
The creating phase – It might last from a month to a year, depending on the chosen passion. This phase is about acting: navigating from La La Land to real-life to test your Minimum Viable Passion.
Because you are not yet sure if it will work, you must navigate the creating phase while being economically conscious: capitalize on existing available resources to figure out if the chosen passion is eligible to become your future profession.
Capitalizing on existing resources in the context of blogging might mandate you to do the following:
Economically managing the content creation side of blogging by leveraging on publishing platforms (Medium, WordPress, Substack, etc.);
Economically managing the (free) marketing channel of blogging, mainly by leveraging social media to share your free content (Twitter, Facebook, etc.);
Economically managing the business-aspect of blogging (don’t get so excited, it’s too early to convert this passion into a full-fledged business) such as content management, online subscription-payments management (Stripe), and membership management, etc.
Based on the identified range during the choosing phase, you must assign a reasonable periodic interval to assess your return on passion (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc.).
You must identify the expected gains from your passion (the type of gain must evolve overtimes).
You must identify the cost you will incur to create your passion (time, effort, money, etc.). The more you validate the roots of this passion within you, the more (cost) you must incur to grow it.
You must identify and factor in the wisdom element – individuals (family, friends, experts, etc.) who are willing to navigate you on this journey (you must allow trusted partners to solidify your journey with their wisdom). The wisdom factor will help to rationalize the ROP.
The formula is a guiding exercise that helps to strike a balance between the new passion’s objectivity and subjectivity. The ROP aids you move into the next time interval or retreat and start all over again with another perceived passion.
If the trend is steeply downward moving, this is a good thing: You are learning that you chose a wrong passion, and you need to kill it and move to a new one.
If the trend is exponentially upward moving, you need to pause; this might be a negative sign: You might choose a basic passion (marginal utilization of your capabilities), thus exposing yourself to a huge opportunity cost.
If the trend shows consolidation over time, you are on the right track: You are learning something new; thus, a level of shakeout is required to test your endurance toward having what it takes to capture the expanding future potentials (explore this passion).
Just be careful not to get blindsided by the short-term positive return of the ROP: if you are positively yielding accelerating return, yet, the new chosen passion is not occupying a place at your heart, you will face a tough time during the leveraging phase.
The Leveraging Phase – A passion that yields the same results over an extended period of time will eventually lose its momentum and merely become a hobby. A true passion is one that is continuously improving, exposing you to higher rewards and more significant challenges.
Thus, if you succeeded in creating a passion, you are now fully responsible for evolving it. Unfortunately, leveraging your passion is beyond the scope of this post. I will give you a few hints, though. To go beyond this point, you need to embrace Hagel’s Passion of the Explorer to climb the Learning Pyramid.
Remember that finding a passion as a traveler via the finding pathway or creating a passion as a venturer via the creating pathway, is just the starting point of your journey: the real challenge rests in evolving your passion.
A heartfelt thanks and appreciation to John Hagel for his guidance with this post and continued support and teaching!