What is Passion?

Passion is “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for something. e.g. a passion for music.” The dictionary has different meanings, but in the context of this article, this definition is the most appropriate.

When asked for a word to inspire his colleagues, one young man responded by saying “follow your passion; as long as you are living other people’s dreams, you will not fulfil your dreams and achieve mediocrity at best”.  In effect, follow that thing that you have a strong desire and fondness for.

Many people start out living other people’s dreams. They walk a path chosen by others; maybe studying a course chosen by their parents because their parents insisted their child had to be a doctor, engineer, scientist, architects, accountants etc. instead of pursuing their passion of being a footballer or an artist or a fashion designer. That is ok, parents usually do this with good intentions.

Fast forward 20 or more years later and many still nurse the same desire for that thing but fail to do anything about it. Kelechi Amadi-Obi is one of the top photographers in Nigeria. He started out with a law degree and was called to the bar in 1993. He has since turned his hands to his passion of painting and photography. His works have been displayed across African and Internationally from New York to London.

There are many potential benefits of following ones’ passion. First, it is invigorating irrespective of whether one is doing this for pleasure or for money. In addition, it has a potential to be discovered by the world and turned into a income generating venture.

In order to get to this point, here are 3 important steps:

1.  First is to identify the passion: 

Identify those things that interest and enthuse you. Whether you are 15 or 50 years old, it is important to be involved in things that you are truly passionate about. It could be a hobby (e.g. cycling), a skill (e.g. painting) and/or a profession (e.g. teaching); things that tugs on your heartstrings, that makes you smile and yearn for more.


2.  Secondly, is the need to invest time in developing that passion.

A passion that remains on the shelve of your mind is unlikely to benefit you. It is time to dust it off and start to nurture it like a seed.

Whether your passion comes as a natural talent or it is a desire for a skill that you know nothing about, both need to be fuelled by knowledge and training. Usain Bolt, arguable one of the most naturally gifted athletes and currently the fastest human in the world, still trains daily. 
In an interview with the Times newspaper, Usain Bolt said "When I was young, I didn't really think about anything other than sports". So, from an early age, he had a passion for sports and nurtured it.

If you missed out on developing your passion at a young age, it is never too late. Leonardo da Vinci, the famous painted his first masterpiece (The Last Supper) at the age of 49 years old. Prior to this, he was considered a failed artist but he didn’t give up.

I particularly like this story of a Kenyan lady called Priscilla Sitienei. At 92 years old and by then a great great grandmother,  she enrolled in primary school. Why? Because she wanted to read the bible in English.

It is never too late for follow your passion, but you must invest time in developing it.


3.  Finally, it is important to get bold and showcase that talent.

It is ok to hone your skills in private. But over time, you should take steps to showcase it. For instance, if you enjoy baking, start offering your product in small private events. You can even do this for free just to get some experience.

I met a young lady in Uganda who told me that as a child she just loved to talk. She joined a debating society in high school and one day, her father got a call from the UN. She had been spotted on a local TV station where she was part of her school debating team and was invited to attend an international conference to represent Uganda youths. After graduation, she got a fantastic job with the UN doing what she loves – speaking.

All the examples giving in this article are real people, some young and some old. They all have two things in common - first is their personal passion and second is that they took action. It is time to cut all the excuses and act on your passion.... and one day, your passion could be discovered by an opportunity that is out there looking for someone just like you.  

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