The Most Important Ingredient in Personal Branding: Passion

June 9, 2020
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June 9, 2020 Stanley Ship

I’ve committed to writing no-fluff, actionable articles about personal branding. Check it out here if you haven’t heard about what’s my game plan. But I have to admit, this piece will be challenging for me. 

This is the goal for this article:

Upon finishing, I sincerely hope that it will cause you to think again and confirm what you are passionate about.

I’ve read countless articles that tell us how to find our passion. But this is a topic that should be dealt with in detail and… well, with passion!

Ultimately, you need this to build a successful personal brand. Look at every top-tiered, highly successful, GREAT (not only good) entrepreneurs, who changed lives. They all are passionate in what they do. 

Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins, Bill Gates.

Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins, Bill Gates.

Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s okay to do what you don’t enjoy. They say you’ll learn to enjoy it and it doesn’t matter as long as it earns you loads of money. Many times, these people are those who have never done work that mattered a lot to them, and find strong meaning in whatever they do.

Here, you’re about to learn why and what you need to do to find your passion.

How it began for me

Let me tell you a little story of how I found a spark of my passion.

At the age of 17, my mom introduced me to a direct selling business. From there, I learned about entrepreneurship. The environment and how my mom brought me up shaped me to think differently. I knew that I don’t want to be “just-another-employee” in a company.

I didn’t know what to study for university, and that is going to be true for many of you reading this. But I want to tell you, IT’S FREAKING OKAY! I end up taking a real estate degree under the advice of my dad. But, it’s not something that I like.

My Degree Certificate

My Degree Certificate

I mean, it’s not something where I’d spend hours reading about. I don’t feel like I have a strong interest towards this subject matter. There’s no desire in me to do things better in that field. 

And for you who feel this way in what you are doing for work or for study, be aware of it and don’t ignore it. 

This is where the spark began for me.

My mom was trying to figure out how to do Internet marketing for my dad’s real estate business. At this point I wasn’t crushing it in the direct selling business. I always thought that there was a better way to market and sell products. Both in the direct selling business and even in my parent’s company.

My dad’s not the kind that explored new stuff, but my mom is. She then invited me to go to a preview of a Facebook Marketing Program. There was one thing that I remember until today. The speaker of that program said “if you learn marketing, you can sell anything.” Now that to me is interesting. 

Notes about Internet Marketing

My notes taken from the preview program

I started watching his videos. I read up articles about online marketing and I even bought his program. The best thing was I pitched to join his team, and got accepted. I worked for him for free with the return of: knowledge and experience. 

Here I began to discover my interest in marketing. There is a reason why I’m interested in this and not real estate. To me, real estate isn’t connected to my WHY and my beliefs. It’s not something that helps me to express those things in the best way. 

But Marketing is. I understand this now because I learn about how passion is found when we do something that connects with us.

Anyway, This was around mid 2018.

What Really, is Passion?

In August 2018, my mom told me about a TedX video by Simon Sinek. That’s where I learned about Finding Your Why. His message resonated with me a lot (I’m a huge fan of his). This is the part where I learned about the importance of passion.

Passion is a result. Passion is the energy and feeling you have when you are engaged in something that you love and really matters to you. – Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek says passion is not an actionable word. Gone are the explanations and examples of people telling you “you need to be passionate in what you do!” “Put your passion into doing it!” “When you have passion, you won’t give up.”

Passion here, passion that. They’re hardly good advice. I mean, how do you act on that?

Passion is a result. Passion is the energy and feeling you have when you are engaged in something that you love and really matters to you. What happens when you do something you don’t love? Ask yourself what feelings you have. This is the part where the majority settles for. They ignore and get used to the life of not being connected to what they do, which makes most of us mediocre.

Or WORSE!

The opposite of passion? Stress. If you don’t love what you do, you’ll feel stress about it. Because it’s not worth it to you. It doesn’t bring you the feeling that you as a human desires.

Don’t Judge, Learn

It is not for us to judge and say that we are better than those who have material wealth but not passionate. At the same time, those who have built wealth shouldn’t look down on those who always talk about their passion.

But seriously, whatever works for you, as long as you’re happy! Right Gary? Many times doing something you are passionate about has a close link to being happy. That’s why this is important. If you belong to those who don’t believe in being passionate, that’s cool.

I don’t have to give you case studies and examples of people who have made it and done great things. Name any big names with a strong personal brand who impact lives. You know they do their work with extreme amounts of passion.

They love what they do. The question is: do you?

"What about you?"

“What about you?”

If you’re finding it hard to answer that question, I want to make this article the one that changes that. Let’s dive in.

Part 1: You don’t need 100% clarity, just find the 5% or 10%

If you’ve already found what you are interested in, go to Part 2, where you’ll see how to connect that to your passion.

No one starts-off being very clear about what they are passionate about.

Also, not many people are as fortunate as those who have, early in their life, found what they are interested in and love doing. But that’s okay! 

For the young, you need to experience more. That is to make sure what you think you are passionate about is really what you are passionate about. It can only be done through experiences that will create passionate feelings.

For the old, you have countless experiences in life. Look at your past for things you have had experiences with, draw from there to identify your passion. You can confirm that those are your passion because of the feelings you have had in those experiences indicating those are what you love doing.

Remember, passion is a feeling resulting from doing what you really love.

Guitarist playing passionately

Guitarist playing passionately

By saying that, when you’re starting out, you don’t have to start being 100% clear about what you really love. That’s not how it works. And because passion is a feeling, we humans are not really savvy with feelings. It’s personal and hard to “translate” or express. That’s why many people talk about passion at a very surface level.

Okay, so, how do we start? This is the format for this part: Question and reflections.

1. What really interests me? 

Don’t answer in less than 10 seconds. Think about the past, think about topics and conversation you had with your friends or family. Think about something that you don’t mind sitting all day listening and talking about. 

Now, get a paper and list every thought and every thing that you can think about.

Here are some more prompts: 

          • What would you do for free yet it’s still worth it? 
          • Think about work that really immerses you and causes you to lose track of time. 
          • What are some outcomes or results that really satisfies you?

If you are not sure whether you’re interested or just generally curious then make sure of your interest by doing or learning. Which is the next thing.

2. Research and Experience 

Again, don’t bother about getting it right or 100%, this is just a first round filter.

Scenario 1: If you have a list, look at the list and rank it by asking yourself which one are you really interested in. If you’re not sure, you need to go and experience those things you think you are interested in!

Let’s say you are interested in writing, playing the guitar, maths and biology. 

Start putting those interests into your schedule of doing it or learning something new about it. 

Scheduling work that belongs to field of interest

Scheduling work that belongs to field of interest

Do it. You’ll start to see which one you’ll prioritize first. You’ll start to see which one really draws you in when you’re doing it (you know the feeling that time really passes so fast).

There’s no rush for this first part. Take your time. You can even stop reading right now, and come back after a few weeks or months.

Scenario 2: If you only have 2 or 3 in the list, and you are some-what sure that this is something you’re really interested in, please proceed. In no way you’re “better” than the person in scenario 1, just saying. It could be because you haven’t experienced many things in life yet.

3. Focus on the feeling

You don’t have to be skillful in those things that you are or may be interested in. It’s not about how good you are, it’s about how engaged you are when doing or experience it.

You want to identify positive, good and exciting feelings (or negative feelings when it’s taken away from you). It’s like a game of hot and cold.

For each of the things you’ve listed down, there are activities linked to it. Ask yourself how you feel when you are doing things related to your interests.

For example, if you think you are interested in cooking, or all the while you thought you loved cooking, what do you feel when you’re doing it? 

What do you feel about the entire process? What do you feel once you’re done with it? Do you want more of it?

Use this chart to find indication

Hot & Cold when doing “passionate” work

These are just some of the many example feelings that I can think of. Hope you get my point.

Here’s something to note. There are some components, activities, tasks or things that you may not enjoy, which is fine. It’s just not something you feel connected to. But the one who is passionate about it, will do it and have a positive output of feeling. The one who is not, will have a negative output of feeling.

Note to the young

If you’re still in high-school, it’s going to be tougher on you. My advice, just freaking go through school first. But lucky you for starting early.

The reason is, you need to have a broad knowledge of many things in order to know what you’re interested in. I mean, if you don’t know that there are such interests that exist, how would you be interested in it?

But we’re living in the Internet Era. I would say, keep yourself updated with news. Read about what companies do. Scroll through “list of skills to pick up.” Go google something! 

Know this, if you’re on the hunt, you’ll find it. You’re better than those who settle.

Don’t get too complicated about this

This process involves the discovery of self. When you do reflections and when you ask yourself questions, you are getting to understand yourself better.

There may be a tendency that you’ll overthink this process. But let’s stick to objective: you’re discovering or confirming your interests that you could be passionate about.

That means, you don’t go and do personality tests. You don’t need to do a SWOT analysis.

Before you start searching for questions and things online, try letting things come up naturally. If you need to talk to someone with more experience in life, you can set up a time to chat with me.

You may ask a few people to get some advice. However, remember this: these advice are based on their own experience and what worked for them. In some way it is biased. So, you need to figure it out for yourself.

Just keep it simple and follow the steps above. Ask yourself the first question, and don’t worry about not being able to answer it clearly.

Keep it at the back of your mind and move on. It’ll come to you one day, as long as you’re still “on the hunt.”

What’s the next step?

See how you can bring value

Once you’ve identified or confirmed what you are interested in and could be passionate about, next is to see who and how it can benefit you and others.

It’s one thing to love doing something, it’s another thing to really see the value in doing it.

In other words, what you have actually done in Part 1 is identifying what value you can possibly bring through your interest.

Value can be defined in a few ways:

        • Doing work for someone who doesn’t know how to do it.
        • Finishing or doing a work faster than those who are not as skillful as you.
        • Teaching your knowledge in that field of interest and helping people to know more about it.
        • Sharing resources and what you have learned in that field.

There are 2 scenarios in this:

        1. You already are skillful and experienced in what you are interested in 
        2. You know what are your interests but still developing the skills and experience.

It is very important that the interests that you have are not only for your own self-pleasure. This is not sustainable. There’s a term for this sort of interest: Hobby. To grow in your passion towards this field of interest, you have to see how it brings value.

For the first scenario, go and practice what you know and can do for someone else. Don’t do it for free, but you don’t have to charge really high either.

For the second scenario, learn and practice it until you are confident enough, then do it for someone else. You can do it for free first, to really see the value you bring. Then slowly you can charge people for it.

Find like minded people

Like-minded people as a community

Community of like-minded people

Start looking for people who have the same interest. This is one good way to also confirm your passion. 

This group will also help to reinforce what you are passionate about. The group will be able to support you and help you through tough times.

Even though you found your field of interest, it doesn’t mean you won’t have bad days, you know.

Go to Facebook and look for groups. There are also forums and QnA places. Instagram is a good place to look for people in the same field too. Connect with people on LinkedIn. 

Type in google “[your interest] + groups”

Connect it to your personal brand

Once you know where your interest lies, you can start to share what you know.

The key here is Share. That means you don’t have to be an expert.

You can even document your learning. 

What you have done when discovering your interest is to give yourself a position for your personal brand. That way, people know what you are about and you have a theme.

This is the part where you come up with a content strategy to deliver your teaching and sharing about that field of interest.

Check out this article here to read about how to deliver content in your field of interest.

Word of Cautions

Finally, here’s some advice on what to watch out for.

        1. Don’t let people take advantage of your passion

          Although you may find yourself doing some free work in the beginning for yourself or for others, that also means you need to value yourself.

          Don’t say yes to anyone who gets you to do work if they are not willing to pay. Unless there is some sort of return for you emotionally or materially.

          Trust in the value your skills can bring to yourself and others.
        2. Don’t over-validate it

          I’m a victim of over-validation. This means you don’t need to keep providing value for free to validate whether people would find you helpful or beneficial.

          You also don’t want to think too deep into whether your personality or character is suited for this particular skill or interest.

          Just take it easy, and slowly open up to new ideas that may be of interest to you. Back away if it’s not something you feel good about.
        3. Don’t let the nay-sayers get to you

          You’ll get people judging you no matter what. When you’re too good, or when you’re not really that good yet. People WILL judge.

          There may be things that are of interest to you that are rare. With a good plan, everything can turn profitable and beneficial.

          As you start to grow in your passion towards your field of interest, as you slowly figure out your purpose and core, you’ll be able to use this as a compass.

          So, whatever people say, ask yourself “can I use that?” If your answer is no, then chuck it aside.
        4. Don’t be a jack-of-all trades

          There’s a difference between being curious and being interested in many things. You want to prioritize and rank the things you think you may be more interested, and see which one suits your current circumstances.

          Don’t try to improve everything that you are interested in. There are skills that are higher in demand. Go with those first if you have one area that you are really interested in. 

Conclusion

For some people, finding their interest is, generally, not a very daunting task.

Here’s the problem, there are just too many to hear and read from. Everyone has their own way of presenting and explaining this topic.

The best way to do this is just to talk to a life coach or someone who knows the process to get there (finding your passion). But if you’re the reading type, and you’ve read through this article, what are you waiting for?

Go do something about what you read. Trust me, it’s a lot easier to write a piece that goes like “Go follow your heart, ask yourself these questions, and go research about all kinds of fields of interest that exist.”

I love to see people discover their passion. It tells me that that’s the beginning of a journey of endless possibilities for this person.

So, With a little bit of personal story touch into this, and some thought processes that I use, hopefully this article will be truly helpful to you.

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Stanley Ship

I'm a Marketing Strategist and the founder of Renesis Group, which is a marketing agency. I help business owners grow brand presence and continuously get new customers by executing clear marketing strategies. If you're looking for possibilities and opportunities in growing your business, you definitely need a marketing strategy (and a good one).

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