Every management expert will tell you that all successful business owners, and accomplished executives have one thing in common; passion.
Even when you wax lyrical about your favourite footballer, chef, comedian, social worker, political activist, and so on, you attach the word passionate, when referring to them in glowing terms.
I work very hard at infusing all my interactions, businesses, and work with passion.
But, to be honest, it took a lot of effort for me to understand what I was passionate about.
For the longest time, I grappled with my station in life. I was brought up in a family that was deeply imbued with traditional, and religious beliefs. My childhood, and teenage years were fundamentally shaped by this doctrine.
So, when I was freed from the shackles of living under the rules of my folks, my experiment with life began with an almost uncontrollable gusto.
I suppose I wasn't risk-averse, and consequently I tried many things. Some were fantastic, while others I have stayed away from, for the rest of my life
Work-wise, this ability for exploration kept me in good stead. But, it also acted as a double-edged sword.
It did allow me to experience many things that have led me to where I am today. At the same time, however, the feeling that I could do many things, clouded my vision in actually doing one thing properly. I was always impatient, and wanted my ideas to bear fruit quickly.
Recently I watched a video by Simon Sinek, renowned author, motivational speaker, and marketing consultant. He suggests that millennials are way too impatient, and as a result never put in the arduous hard work that leads to sustainable success.
Quite frankly, I was that impatient "millennial" of twenty years ago. I felt discontent, and this led me to try-out many things in my career.
I trained to be a lawyer, but I did not practice. I had no teaching qualifications, but I taught for several years. I had no idea of how to run a business, but I got into multiple business ventures. I failed spectacularly along the way. And each time, I had to claw back, one tedious step at a time.
In hindsight, I realize that the only self-motivator that kept me going through all the turbulence, was my passion. It was not being passionate about one particular profession or endeavour. It was my passion for being relevant. In everything I attempted, I just wanted to be relevant.
I have learnt more about the power of being passionate as I have gotten older.
My dear friend Shanthini Venugopal is no stranger to those in the world of music and theatre in Malaysia. She is a singer, actor, and was a mainstay of the legendary Instant Café Theatre. She is the founder of The Jumping JellyBeans Theatre Company that does workshops, performances, and seminars on performing arts for children.
I asked Shanthini how she made the transition from being a singer and actor, to becoming such a huge proponent of the performing arts for children, and in schools in Malaysia.
She explained that after her son was born, she had felt the need to taper down acting work. The preceding rehearsals and shows often took place in the evenings and at night. She had a child, and she wanted to be there for him.
Instead of winding down or opting for an easier career, she continued with her passion by embracing her circumstance, rather than allowing it to dictate what she could do. This also meant she continued adding value to herself, and to others around her, with her passion.
In my interactions with Shanthini, I have always found that she has a general sense of enthusiasm and purpose. With everything that she does; from raising her son; to being my friend; to being committed to the performing arts for children; she is deeply engaged in her pursuit.
Interestingly, that engagement, and the joy that she exudes over the things that she is passionate about, spills over into all other areas of her life.
When Shanthini had her child, she simplified her life because she wanted to spend more time doing what she loved. Which in this case was being with her son while continuing to be a performing artist. And working with children allowed for this passion to be expressed.
Her passion meant that even if difficulties arose, she could deal with them.
You can learn from her experience. When you are passionate, you will have better relationships, because you are more attractive, positive, and interesting. And just like her, you will experience the sense of being ‘in-the-flow’, and get exceptional personal results.
Incidentally, her son Hariharan, who is now pursuing an undergraduate degree in business, has turned out to be a charming, and well-adjusted young man.
Be like Shanthini Venugopal, discover your passion, and become valuable.