In 1991, British artist Damien Hirst unveiled his latest artwork, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living.
Originally commissioned by Charles Saatchi, the artwork consisted of a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde in a glass tank.
Its technical specifications are: “Tiger shark, glass, steel, 5% formaldehyde solution, 213 × 518 × 213 cm.”
Some critics praised the idea, others were confused, and a great deal of them were outraged.
Some critics even said that anyone could have done it.
“But you didn’t, did you?”
What does this have to do with finding your passion? Well… it’s the first step.
Find the One Thing You Think Anyone Can Do
Ira Glass once said that it was our taste that made us choose one passion over another.
While I certainly agree, I also think that we pursue certain skills because when we experience them, a part of us goes, “I can do that. I can definitely do that.”
That’s something I’ve felt about writing when I was thirteen years old. I was certain that writing stories was easy, that its creative process was simple and straightforward.
Of course, I was wrong about it, but my initial skewed perception got me to play the game.
Maybe you feel that away about making YouTube videos, maybe you think that way about playing the piano, but there’s surely something that you can somehow instinctively recognize as being “easy.”
If you believe you can, you’re half way there.
Well, not quite, but at least you’re going to be so enthusiastic about it that you will overcome the steep learning curve, be more persistent, and work towards developing an initial set of daily habits.
So, ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I think anyone can do it?”
Does the Journey to the Top Feels Like Its Own Reward?
In other words, would you do it if you’d never even earn a single dollar from it? If no one ever showed you even a bit of appreciation?
Would you still do it?
To me, the journey of writing my words, of sharing my ideas, is just as exciting as going over the numbers at the end of the month, to see how many people have read my articles or how much I’ve earned.
A lot of people become enamored with the rewards of pursuing a passion. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But are you willing to enjoy the journey just as much?
Do you like the process? The act of slowly becoming better? The frustrating feeling of almost? When you’re almost good enough, when you almost manage to do it, when you give 100% and you almost succeed?
If the answer is yes, congratulations, you’ve found your passion.
Find Your Torture
In 2013, Jerry Seinfeld went on the Howard Stern show and, while explaining the fact that it’s all hard work, and that it never gets easier, even as you get better, he said the following words, “Your blessing in life is when you find the torture you’re comfortable with.”
It’s just a different way of saying, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
It’s easy to be passionate about something when things just work. It’s easy to blog when your audience is growing each day, it’s easy to write when each book earns more than the previous release.
But what about when it doesn’t?
What about when you don’t feel like doing the work?
What about the boring bits? What about all the related skills you must also acquire in order to become successful?
Pain is a necessary factor for growth. Unless you’re uncomfortable, there’s no reason for you to grow, to overcome certain obstacles.
It is what it is.
But are you willing to go through all that discomfort in order to spend a few hours each day doing what you love to do?
In the End, Passion Is Suffering
Passion literally means to suffer. It comes from the same Latin root as patience.
Are you willing to patiently suffer for this skill or craft or creative endeavor?
That’s what passion means.
I spent eight years writing before I earned a single dollar. Eight years.
Are you willing to work and work and work until you become so good they can’t ignore you?
Are you willing to go through the motions, slowly improve by 1%, and then start all over again the next day?
If you want to develop those skills, you’ve got to be willing to suffer. It’s as simple as that. You’ve got to develop the ability to fight the urge to give up, or the often overwhelming desire to work only when you feel like it.
You have to show up even when you don’t want to, and you’ve got to show up every single day for a long period of time before you even notice a bit of progress.
Can you do that?
Does it seem like something that’s worth doing in the name of that one thing you call passion?
If yes, congratulations.
If no, ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I think anyone can do?”