One of my favorite parts of college was picking my classes each semester. Yes, I was/am a big nerd. But Yale also had a great system called “Shopping Period,” where for the first two weeks of a semester you could try out classes before you registered for them.
It was probably the only kind of shopping that I’ve ever enjoyed. I’d read through the class descriptions and work out a schedule to see as many classes as I possibly could each day.
Everyone had their own methods for picking classes. Does it have a final exam or a paper? Which requirements does it fulfill? When does it meet? What does the syllabus look like?
I didn’t pay attention to any of those things. The only metric I measured was whether the professor was passionate about what s/he was teaching. If the answer was “yes,” I was there. My rationale was simple: If professors were passionate about rocks, they could make rocks fascinating. But the most interesting topic was easily dulled by an indifferent teacher.
So I sifted through dozens of classes each semester and picked the most passionate professors I could find. I’d come from my classes excited about how differential cooling affected weather patterns or how conceptions of masculinity had changed over the last 2,000 years … because my professors cared intensely about these topics and made them compelling. It didn’t take long before other students were joining me in my endeavor to find the most enthusiastic teachers.
This same principle sets apart top bloggers, podcasters, and social media masters today: they’re passionate about their area of expertise. They get a huge kick out of helping entrepreneurs, or looking at new apps, or teaching people to overcome shyness. And their enthusiasm not only permeates their communications, it drives them to work harder, think deeper, and connect more intimately.
Some people are lucky enough to have their passion line up beautifully with their work, but most of us aren’t as fortunate. So how do we reap the benefits of enthusiasm when our day-to-day efforts aren’t quite so enticing? Find your passion point. Find a point that you can use to frame more of what you do into something you care about.
But how do you find your passion point?
- Start by listing what you love to do. Me, I love to synthesize information into a fresh narrative, to teach others, to give advice, and to learn new information.
- Look for underlying themes. One theme for me is “looking at things differently.” Whether I’m changing my perspective by learning something new, or I’m helping someone else see an issue differently, that’s something I really care about.
- Seek ways to frame your work within this new paradigm. As a small business owner, I wear a lot of hats … and some of them don’t fit me very well. But when I think of contract negotiation as a way to shift the way both I and my future client are thinking about our future work together, then it becomes interesting rather than stressful.