The key is in the ‘C’ word and not the ‘P’ word.
Do what your passionate about is not good advice.
Most of the folks who’ve given me this advice are either a) unsatisfied with their own job, or b) sell digital products on how to make money online.
Even in the business world, passion is highly overrated.
But coming from the world of science, I learned that — curiosity is the predecessor to passion.
I came to the US to pursue my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. Was I passionate about wastewater biodegradation?
But I was curious enough about it to dedicate the next 5 years of my life in graduate school to do meaningful research and eventually shipped my Master’s thesis with new learnings that could potentially help the biodegradation community to create more advanced innovations.
In fact, look at kids for example. When they start out in this world, they’re not passionate about anything.
Kids keep doing things because they’re curious about the world.
But they’re the most curious beings on the planet.
Most of them continue to try out painting, ballet, singing, violin, tuba, football, wrestling, etc even though they suck at it, not because they’re passionate about it.
But something weird happens as we become adults and we stop being curious.
We hear the word ‘Passion’ so much that it clouds our thinking. We stop being curious.
Let me give you another example.
When I first came to the US, I was never passionate about traveling.
But I was curious enough about the culture, the food, the landscape across this magnificent country.
I combined that curiosity with my passion for heavy metal music that gave me the courage to venture out in unchartered territories on a shoestring budget.
After hundreds of memorable experiences across 47 US States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, now I can say that I’m fuckin passionate about traveling. Because it has helped me to become a better person.
Here’s an example of a professional context.
I’ll be BSing if I said I was passionate about it from the get-go during the interview.
What I was passionate about was a) tech sales and b) being a part of a winning team.
But when it came to the product and the business model, I was insanely curious about how the heck did the company made money by giving things away for free?
I was curious to learn what did the customers think of the product?
That helped me to make a better-informed decision while choosing between the two offers I had on the table. And now I’m glad I did that.
Becuase now I know a thing or two about the product from a technical angle and I’m passionate about the open-source ecosystem.
On the other hand, one time I started a fitness coaching business. Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you how obsessed I’m with health & fitness.
But the coaching business sucked. I stopped having fun even though I was doing what I was passionate about.
That’s when I learned when it comes to entrepreneurship, curiosity is the key to sustained actions.
I’m not ignoring passion at all. There’s got to be a healthy balance between curiosity and passion.
But don’t discount curiosity — whether you’re on the job hunt or looking for a business idea.
In fact, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, don’t ask yourself — what ideas or areas I’m passionate about?
Instead, a better question to ask is — What am I curious about that also solves a problem or people’s needs?”
From my experiences of working at a liquor store, construction sites, cleaning, and painting jobs, car repair gigs; I’ve sold tapestry, home-cooked meals, done Wordpress web-design work, and now that I’ve been selling an open-source framework for a while, here’s what I’ve discovered -
Once you get better at your craft/work, and people value you for what you do, and the money starts coming in — passion will come and hug you from behind.
To find and do work that you love perpetually, make curiosity your compass, fulfillment your #1 KPI, and passion a derivative.
Today I’m curious about Progressive Web Apps, Dollar Cost Averaging in Crypto Assets, Scaling Open-Source Business Models, Mastering the Enterprise B2B Sales Process, and 17 other topics.
I’m not saying this to impress you. I’m saying this to inspire you that once you start looking at your job and your life through the lens of curiosity, it’s a whole another world. The fund kind of.
So what are you currently curious about? Please share below in comments.
PS: So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport and Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius by Erik Wahl are two great books on the topic of how curiosity can be more powerful than passion.
PPS: Still reading this? I think you’ll like my Sunday weekly newsletter Dispatches where I share tactical strategies for achieving peak performance and creating abundance in life. Read all about it here →
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on February 5, 2018.