Passion follows you, not the other way around

The first time I spoke in front of a crowd of adults I was 16. I barely spoke for five minutes or so, and nothing about the experience inspired passion. Mostly just fear.

From 18-20 I spoke several more times and while I enjoyed it more, nothing about the experience itself suggested I should do more of it. What I liked the most was hearing the stories later from people about how they were changing by what I had shared. The impact inspired me.

Over the next two decades I spoke to employees at work, to friends and family at church, to technology folks at conferences, and slowly I became more and more interested in improving and honing this particular skill.

In that time I read books, watched hundreds of hours of other speakers, watched recordings of my own presentations, wrote more, spoke more, and developed my own frameworks for crafting memorable presentations.

The passion for public speaking didn’t motivate me. It wasn’t there at the start. It was something that developed over time. The more invested I became, the more passionate I became.

There are a lot of people that will tell you to follow your passion. I’m not one of them. Because what’s been true in my world of public speaking has also been true for me about product strategy, team development, leadership and more.

Basically, for me, my passion has been cultivated by the work I put in. It’s only after a lot of work that I find the nuances and intricacies that surprise and engage me. And then the passion comes.

So my encouragement to you is simple – invest in doing the work without worrying about the passion and it may surprise you in the process.

Enjoy the work. Dig deep in the discipline. And you may find that the passion comes after the work, as a result of the work, rather than as a precursor and motivator for the work.

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