Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.George Bernhard Shaw
Life isn’t something you chip away at until you find your passion waiting inside. Life is something you build upon slowly over time, it is something you create1. So instead of discovering yourself, create yourself. Become a master craftsman of your life.
Who doesn’t want to find their passion. It’s a romantic notion afterall. That inside you is a vocation you will love, that will bring you happiness and a fulfilling life. You just need the courage to search for it. But the question “What do I truly love?” rarely boils down to a yes-or-no answer. And as such, it will leave you confused and lost. “I want to be happy, I just need to keep looking”, is a mantra that will keep you perpetually looking and as a result unhappy about where you are. It will cause you to burn energy trying to figure out your passion, instead of building career capital in your craft. If Steve Jobs hand followed his own advice he would have picked apples.
To find yourself, think for yourself.Socrates
Life doesn’t owe you happiness. It doesn’t owe you a successful, meaningful and rewarding career. You have to work for it, you need to earn it. By refining your craft, becoming a master craftsman. Being so good they can’t ignore you. Put aside the question of a true passion and focus on becoming good. It isn’t about you, it’s about what you can do for the world. The passion, satisfaction and enjoyment will follow.
It is surprisingly hard to get people to give you money. If you want something rare and valuable - i.e. a successful, meaningful and rewarding career - you need something rare and valuable to trade in exchange and that commodity is your skills. The more experiences you have, the bigger your collections of mental models becomes3. And the more you are going to love your work because it will be easy, people will respect you and in return they will give you more autonomy. Focus on mastering the skills you can trade. You need to be good at what you do to get good things from your work4.
Mastery however is not enough, just look at the miserable workaholics. It is how you invest the fruits of those skills to build for you a meaningful and rewarding life. Be so good they can’t ignore you. So they will give you the autonomy and respect. Like a continuous feed back loop, the more experience you have the more you are going to enjoy your work, the more experience you will get.
Don’t mistake passion for an idea, with passion for work. Passion for an idea will not get you anywhere without passion for work, for the process5. But hard work isn’t enough. There are lots of hardworking people that are not unhappy. What are they missing? They haven’t figured out how to cash in some of that career capital for autonomy, and what do with that it.
To become a master craftsman take on an apprenticeship6 for guidance, look to roles models for direction, be uncomfortable with growth and be patient (see “The Turtle Mindset”). But those are topics for whole other blog posts.
This post builds on the ideas and thoughts of Cal Newport and his book “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You”
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