Steve Jobs said “People with passion can change the world for the better.” What he really meant to say was, people with purpose can change the world for the better. Steve Jobs was not passionate about technology. He was passionate about calligraphy, western history and dance. If he had followed his passions he would have ended up doing something very different.
What he did do, was leverage his zone of genius and used his passions as a way to direct it. Your zone of genius consists of two data points, your genius, and your purpose. I would wager that his Genius – the kind of thinking he was best at – was coming up with impossible ideas and making them happen. His Purpose — which is linked to a core emotional challenge – was not being understood. As a kid he was a loner and often a trouble maker. He wasn’t understood by his schoolmates, and they thought he was “odd.” School was boring to him, and he was “different.” As a result, helping people understand (any and everything) could be his purpose. I have found that what creates fulfillment is doing the reverse of a core emotional challenge.
Steve Jobs weaved his passions into the work that was aligned with both his genius and purpose, which then bolstered his experience and love of his work. Where most people get the passion game wrong is that they follow it in absence of considering their zone of genius. If you want to use your passions more purposefully do these two things:
1. Keep in mind that passions can be fleeting. Use them to provide direction for the type of thinking that challenges you – your Genius and your Purpose – the impact that fulfills you. If you do that you will experience what Steve Jobs did, work that feels like a calling.
2. Remember that passions are fun. Sometimes it’s ok to not have them all mix with your work – if you’re already using your zone of genius. You can love cooking and not be a chef. You can be passionate about fitness and not make it your career.
We’ve all gotten confused with passion, especially in comparison to purpose. Remember, passions equals fun and purpose equals impact. You want to strike a balance with both.
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