Hands up if you have already found your true passion, the one that ignites you, fills you with purpose and means that you are leading a life you love with success on your terms! Great, the rest of this article isn’t really for you – although you may truly connect with people who will be deeply moved by these words.
For those who are struggling to find your ‘one thing’, your ‘purpose’, your ‘passion’ and are wondering if there is something wrong with you, then perhaps this is for you! Perhaps throughout your life, you have already pursued a wide range of hobbies, jobs, adventures, experiences, and studies. Perhaps your curiosity is peaked by a huge variety of subjects across the arts and sciences. And perhaps you’re wondering whether you’ll ever be an ‘expert’ or a ‘specialist’ or ‘successful’ or even if you’ll finish that new project you’ve just started because you know that something new is going to come along!
Perhaps whenever someone says to you ‘just choose one and go for it’ or asks ‘when are you going to settle down and get on with it’ your stomach drops and you feel like you are being squeezed into a cage. If these descriptions resonate with you, I am here to tell you that you are amazing and much sought after individual.
Over a number of decades, I have come to own and celebrate the fact that I will never have a ‘true passion’ or just the ‘one thing’. So far I’ve experienced 20 jobs across 5 careers, studied for 2 degrees and 10+ professional qualifications, lived in 15 urban centres across 3 countries, explored more than 50 countries and pursued ever-changing multiple passions from enneagram to steampunk, camping to coasteering, history to dance.
I call people like us ‘Hummingbirds’, others call us ‘multipotenialites’, ‘scanners’, ‘renaissance people’, ‘polymaths’, ‘human Venn diagrams’ or ‘creative mavericks’. Regardless of which nomenclature appeals to you, we are people who are deeply fulfilled when we are:
- Constantly learning in challenging environments
- Recognising patterns within complex situations
- Solving comprehensive problems
- Relishing variety and adapting swiftly to changing circumstances
- Drawing together different concepts and practical experiments to innovate within the intersections
So, why might we feel that there is something ‘wrong’ with us? Having spoken with 1000s of people around the world, my research reveals that the key challenges are:
- The perception that we must ‘stick to one thing’ and deeply specialise to progress well in life
- The belief that we will never be valued and rewarded for our level of experience gained across multiple fields and industries
- The challenge of the day-to-day management of a life filled with ever-changing multiple passions
The underlying theme here is that rather than loving our diversity and variety we are trying to fit into a perception we hold, that the business world is seeking ‘specialists’ to progress up a well-followed pathway to the pinnacle of a specific career.
However, in the last 20 years, businesses globally have been experiencing unprecedented rapid levels of change. Increasingly, businesses in many industries are seeking innovative ways to speed in marketing, adaptability in complex rapidly changing environments, agility to meet wide-ranging, varied demands by consumers and bespoke ways to engage with customers sustainably. A significant challenge, whatever sector you’re in! And as problem-solving change agents, we are the perfect people to either be partnering with them or to be employed by them to grow their business. All we need to do is help businesses find us.
Here are two starting activities on how to position your Self to attract businesses and start weaving your multiple passions into a life you love:
- Know your Self:
- Your ‘WOW’: when a new passion comes along and you leap into it, what is it that you love about this period of newness? Is it the learning as much as you can as quickly as you can? Or is it fitting this new passion into other interests you have and creating something new? Or is it sharing what you’re learning and what you already know with others? Or is it something else or a combination of the above?
- Your ‘forever’: when you review your experiences, interests, jobs, hobbies, projects what is the average length of time that you are deeply engaged in them before you begin to be less enamored or even a little bored? This is your ‘forever’, the length of time you will be ‘all in’. Mine is 2 years, my partner is 5 years, one of my friends is 12 months – whatever yours is, this is exactly right for you!
- Your ‘patterns’: although we’re never going to have the ‘one thing’ we do have underlying patterns which inform our decisions (either consciously or unconsciously). It was as I was moving to my second country and changing into my 3rdcareer that I recognised that the underlying patterns which others were missing in the seemingly disparate jobs and studies I’d already experienced were ‘people’ and ‘change’. This was a blinding flash of the obvious! Once I consciously knew this, I made choices that met my need to be working with people so that they were meeting their potential in rapidly changing environments. I was also able to tell the ‘story’ so potential employers and business partners saw me as a valuable addition to their team.
- Research where the pain points are:
- Industry/business type: what industries fascinate you or do you find the most challenging? Are you drawn to the voluntary, public or private sectors? Do you prefer start-ups, SMEs or global conglomerates? Are there specific companies or organisations that you’d love to work with? Find out more about each of them!
- Specific key challenges: research what the key opportunities and problems they are facing in the next 12 months to 2 years looking across multiple segments, functions, and countries. Consider the patterns you notice in this complex situation. Mind-map any ideas that come to you on how you might help them innovate solutions.
- Making connections: you have a multiple passion network, people you have worked with in various industries or studied with on various courses or interacted with in wide-ranging activities. Someone you know will know someone in the industries, functions, businesses, organisations that you want to work with. Get in touch with them and ask them for an introduction.
You now have a starting point for approaching those businesses and organisations you are interested in working with – either business-to-business or as an employee.
The more you celebrate your Self as a person with multiple passions and all that you have to offer the world, the more you will create time for your multiple passions. You will also be valued for your diverse expertise, have a life filled with variety and meaning, and build a long-term connection with others. You will stop trying to fit in with what you believe others want you to be and weave your multiple passions into a life you love!