Promise #1: Embrace Your Passion
Embracing your passion is the first step to achieving your potential. Passion, in and of itself, is like endless fuel as it is the gift that keeps on giving.
I took my very first job when I was fourteen years old, not because I wanted to, but because I needed to. I wanted to become a DJ and I needed to get a set of Technique turntables and my mother was simply not going to pay for them. She had seen me start other hobbies, to only go a bit down the road and abandon them. She wanted me to own this one from end-to-end. So, she told me that if I wanted it, I needed to fund it myself (in so many words).
In my mind, I thought, “poor mom, she doesn’t understand, music is one of my passions though, this is real!” In any event, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Through that experience, I landed a summer job at a hardware store called Nicetown Lock and Hardware, around the corner from our house and began working for a gentleman named Joe Jankowski. Joe was a guy who could just fix anything – – I believe that was his passion.
I have been blessed to have a career in management that has taken me from that hardware store to working in several companies: Today’s Man, Wilmington Savings Fund Society (WSFS), NovaCare, Transaction Information Systems, JPMorgan Chase, Allstate and LegalShield. During that course, I have had the opportunity to manage and lead diverse teams across the globe.
Earlier in my career, I must readily admit that I did not appreciate the value of “living in the moment” as much as I do now. That the journey, in and of itself, has a tremendous amount of value, particularly if you are chasing your passion.
I recall clearly during my times at JPMorgan Chase. At one point after the JPMorgan Chase and Bank One merger, my team was about 400 – 500 people in size and I always made it a point to try to know everyone, which I know sounds insane. However, I think it is important that you know everyone’s name, face, what they do and who they really are. So, during my travels to our different locations, I would do my best to hold breakfast, lunch or afternoon break meetings with small teams. In Houston, the leader there, Marcia McKinzie (hi Marcia!!!) would hold a few All-hands meetings and take representatives off the phones so we could have time together, etc. and those things mattered.
The reason I am sharing this story is that all of those things worked well for me in my journey because they aligned with my primary passion, which is empowering others to pursue their potential. Earlier in my career, I decided that achieving a C-Suite role would best position me to do so.
That is my truth – – and I have found it to be the case for many others. I am often asked for career advice and am happy to do so! I listen intently for twenty minutes and then usually ask one question – – are you chasing something you are passionate about? If not, what are you chasing?
I would just ask you to ask yourself the same. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is that the idea that earning an income and the pursuit of your passion are mutually exclusive – – that is a farce, now more than ever before. Minimally, you can start by just writing and curating about your passion, part-time, build a blog, sell through it, let it grow and when that income overtakes your full-time job, make the move or not. My bigger point though is that you have a choice to make.[I would highly advise that if you’ve read this far, you take a brief moment to download the free first chapter to my book.]
#1: Search Within Yourself
Search within yourself thoroughly and thoughtfully to understand your unique gifts (or talents), your unique attributes and your unique experiences thus far in life. I purposely used the word unique three times in that sentence. With over 7 billion people on the earth, in as much as we all have unique fingerprints, so goes the aforementioned combination of gifts, attributes and experiences that will help you pinpoint your passion, or purpose – – call it what you will.
#2: Do Not Discount Your Passion, Build It Up
Once you discover (or rediscover) your passion, it is often natural to discount it, questioning the practicality of achieving it. As a speaker, I have asked the following questions at least two dozen times during presentations:
Close your eyes and dial back your memory to when you were 10, 11 or 12 years old.
Can you recall what you knew you wanted to be, without a shadow of a doubt when you grew up?
Within the room, I usually begin to see beaming smiles across people’s faces. I then ask:
How many of you are doing that today?
Typically, the smiles disappear at that point! Why? Because somewhere along the path of growing up, we are often told, usually by well-meaning people, that our dreams (passion) and our need to make a living are not aligned. That does not have to be true. Period.
#3: Share Your Story Selectively and Create a List of Potential Passion Partners
Treat your passion like a newborn baby, protect it, incubate it and raise it with care. Introduce it purposely to people in order to solicit helpful feedback and support. Go into this with your eyes wide open understanding that not everyone is going to validate your passion. This is yours to own, take all the feedback in, reconcile it and decide what is applicable and how it is applicable.
As you begin to gain momentum, take stock of those who take interest in how you are conducting research and shaping your journey ahead towards your passion. In later steps, these may become partners.
#4: Me, INC.
To pursue your passion, you will need to treat it like a business. As such, I would encourage to do four things.
1. Immersive learning: Dig into the area through content (reading, audible books, podcasts, etc.). Ensure you know the industry, the players (both current and historical), the trends, etc. so you are well rounded.
2. Create financial flexibility for a transition: If this is a scenario where you believe you will want to operate in your passion full time, then plan for it. As they often say, it is always easier to reduce expenses than produce more revenue. Determine the sacrifices you are willing to make such as turning off cable and watching YouTube TV.
3. Care and Share: Get involved in a community that does that same. Whether online or offline (both if possible), become active in conversations, contributing to help others. Yes! Even as you are still learning, begin to help others as soon as you can. You will see how beneficial it is.
Out of the 6 Promises, this one, embracing your passion, is the most foundational. On a personal note, I have operated within my passion of helping others reach their potential as a part of leadership roles I’ve held during my career, but I have always desired to do it full-time. Effective June of 2018 (the time of this post), I made the transition to doing it full time, following my own advice as well!
Lastly, as you seek your passion, of particular importance is the need to do well at whatever you are doing. While doing so, things have an interesting way of taking shape sometimes. A great story to listen to in that regard is that of Matt Winter, retired president of the Allstate Corporate. Matt went from the Army to that top spot, all in an unplanned manner, it is a great story to hear. You can check it out here.
Reach out to me anytime if I can help at firstname.lastname@example.org