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Why Pursuing Your Passion is Not Enough

This is a guest post by Mighty Rasing.

I’m sure you’ve heard this advice a million times already: “Pursue your passion.” I, myself, have written about that and encouraged people to capitalize on their passion and build their careers and lives around it.

Yet, “pursuing your passion” is overrated. Or at least, it is only a part of the bigger picture of your career and your life. Pursuing your passion is good; but there are two other factors that should complete the equation—your skills and the market for them.

Passion. Being passionate for something is great. You can lose yourself into it and not count the minutes and hours that pass by. If you love playing the guitar, you can practice for hours and not get bored.

Skills. Having a passion for something, however, does not guarantee proficiency and excellence. You need to develop the right skills to pursue your passion. If you’re passionate about making music but you are tone-deaf, it might not be the best path for you! Skills can be learned but sometimes you are forced to learn these skills because they are required for your job. If it’s a skill related to your passions, the training hours will just pass by quickly and blissfully.

Market. You may be passionate for something and you have the skills for it, but is there a market for it? Can you make a living out of it? Some markets, such as art and classical music may be too small for you to thrive. Don’t lose heart just yet. You can create the market for your passion and your skills! It is a long road, however, and you should be willing to invest significant amount of time and resources.

Tina Seelig, author of “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20” says it best: “Passions are just a starting point. You also need to know your talents and how the world values them… if you have a talent in an area and there’s a big market for your skills, then that is a great area to find a job.”

How I Pursued My Passion by Resigning from a Well-Paying Job.

After my College graduation, I wanted to work with a non-profit organization that would help empower young people. I believed that I can help make a difference in the lives of many young people. I committed to be a volunteer leader of a faith-based non-profit national youth organization in the Philippines. But I needed to earn money to support myself financially. In February 2006, I joined IBM in Manila. The pay was good. Opportunities for growth were good, too. The people were great. I had a good future for myself.

But I cannot help but pursue my passion for helping other young people. That is why in May 2006, I got elected as the National President of our organization. At first, I thought that I could manage my good paying job and the organization at the same time. Boy was I wrong! Fast forward to December 2006, I quit IBM to pursue my passion and become a full-time volunteer.

Before you start saying “good choice!” Let me tell you that the organization only paid for direct expenses for programs and events. I didn’t receive any salary, stipend or honorarium. I didn’t really know how to support myself. For three months, I watched my savings get depleted.

With a big heart and zero income, I took all sorts of part-time jobs and learned about freelance opportunities online. Five months after resigning from IBM, I was back on my feet. I was earning enough money to pay my rent and my bills. The best thing is, I had lots of time for what I am truly passionate about!

I was passionate for development work in a non-profit organization setting. I developed the skills for that. But I could not make a living out of it, so I had to augment my income by doing other jobs. Writers and musicians have the same story. They keep their day jobs to support themselves as they pursue their passion. For many of us, that’s the best option. But if your passions, skills and the market come together, you are in a great situation!

The Interaction of Your Passions, Skills and the Market

Analyze your passions, your skills and the market. Then try to locate yourself in any of the following scenario:

1. No overlap at all!

If this is your situation, boy, you’re in trouble. You gotta do something to make at least two of them align and overlap.

2. Skills and Passion Overlap but there is little or no market.

If this is your situation, you can either consider your passion as a hobby, to be done only after work or create the demand for your passion and skills. The latter option, however, will require lots of resources.

3. Skills and Market Overlap but you’re not passionate with what you’re doing.

You need to learn to love what you’re doing. If you can’t do that, you better look at some ways to integrate your passion into your job.

4. Passion and Market Overlap but you don’t have the skills.

The solution is simple, you develop the skills that you need. Since you are already passionate about it anyway, developing your skills will not be forced, nor will it be boring.

5. Passion, Skills and Market Overlap

Now, this is best possible scenario. Just keep doing what you’re doing. But don’t forget to look for opportunities for growth.

Pursue your passion. Hone your skills. Offer something that the market needs. If you can do that, you will not go hungry even if your passion cannot pay for your bills.

My term as national president for the organization ended in 2008. I grew as a leader. I also learned a lot of skills through my part-time and online jobs, chief among them is how to use the Web for all it’s worth. I know several ways to earn income via the Internet. But I have also learned how to use the Web to further pursue my advocacies and help achieve the goals of the organization I served with. All in all, I came out a winner. Right now, I’m in a place where I’m still doing youth empowerment activities and programs but I am paid now as a staff of a different faith-based organization.

By the way, I have also learned to be passionate about blogging and online communications. There’s a great market for it and I’m in the process of securing the right skills for that passion and market.

Mighty blogs about transformational leadership and social entrepreneurship at www.TransformationalLeadershipHQ.com.

37 Comments on "Why Pursuing Your Passion is Not Enough"

  1. Passion, Skills and Market Idea are highly needed to survive as an entreprenuer coupled with others like Hard work etc. Thanks for sharing your views.

    • Mighty says:

      Thanks Fisayo. 🙂 With hard work, those three factors can be brought together.

  2. TsarShu says:

    I guess all people here and bloggers in particulat would like to be in the 5th group, i’m not an exception. But you put it right – sometimes it’s very difficult or even impossible.
    I prefer following my passion in my private personal life and apply my skills into conquering the market.

    • Mighty says:

      Hi TsarShu, whether it’s in the workplace or in the private spheres of our lives, it’s great to work towards the 5th situation. 🙂

  3. Online Strategies says:

    Good thoughts. When a passion is followed diligently it brings meaning to our life.

  4. Jon says:

    Who doesn’t love Venn diagrams? 🙂 I haven’t seen passion, skills, and market laid out this way and I like it!

    We need to perform in-depth market research before we head off thinking our passion for topic “xyz” is going to be our payday. It just may be that not enough people are searching for what your passion is.

    Skills…well, that’s certainly something that ties in with authority. The more masterful you are in/with/at your passion the more credibility you’ll have. This, in turn, will build fast rapport with your audience and will make a world of difference in selling.

    Thank you, Mighty!

    • Mighty says:

      thanks Jon! I got inspired about making those diagrams after I read two or three books discussing the overlap of skills, passion and market. The diagrams helped me understand them better. And so I shared them here.

  5. Mighty – I agree with Jon above! I have never seen someone explain Passion, Market and skills in the manner that you did in this article. You did a great job not only with your demonstrations but with the explanations of the interactions between Passion, Skills and Market and the ideal level of overlap.

    I think what you did is great and I really admire the fact that you were able to drop everything and follow your passon. The fact that you were then willing to do what was required to find the resources online that would pay for your expenses is a true testament to how passionate you truly are about your organization and its mission.

    • Mighty says:

      Thanks Hector. It was difficult at first. But thankfully, it paid off in the end.

  6. Niyi Charles says:

    There is nothing as painful to see as a person with a life size passion and great skill without a market.

    What I usually advice is a change of location or a realignment of passion and skill to see how the current market can be served in a new way.

    • Mighty says:

      I agree Niyi–a change of location sometimes provides the jumpstart needed for the realignment of passion and skills.

  7. Marlee says:

    Hey Mighty,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I agree with you. You did an excellent job of painting a picture of how your passion, skills, and the demand in the market work together. I have a similar model which I designed a free ecourse around to help people navigate the process of figuring out what those “more than passion” portions of the equation are. Congrats in finding your stride and best of continued luck!

    • Mighty says:

      thanks Marlee.

  8. Eleazar says:

    Mighty is one of the most promising youth leaders the Philippines have today. He is down-to-earth religious young man, a poet and a musician.

    • Mighty says:

      Thank you Eleazar.

  9. Hey Mighty, Great post and I really like your concept plus the way of presentation that’s really touching one. Keep it up!!

  10. You have presented here very solid points here and everyone should consider these 3 points first before starting any business or job. You may not find yourself at convenient position if you’re missing any point among them.

  11. LoveChic says:

    Thanks a lot for your life story as it is the example of how to reach what you really want and need. If it is possible I would like to add one more things to the three – psssion, skills, market. they are patience and hard work as they are very important when we are rtying to reach our goal.

    • Mighty says:

      Yes indeed LoveChic. without patience and hardwork, we can’t stay long enough in our path to reap the rewards. 🙂

  12. Caloy Diño says:

    Mighty, this idea was expounded by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. He called it the “Hedgehog” concept, which meant that great organizations are focused on businesses where their competencies can be the best in the world, in markets that drives their economic engine, and which employees are passionate about. You figured out that the same principle applies in individuals as well.

    Getting off the corporate track to pursue what you are passionate about was a great risk, but potentially very rewarding. That is, if you harness and hone your God-given gifts and apply them in issues that may not necessarily give you wealth, but may have the deepest impact in the lives of the greatest number of people within your sphere of influence. Now if that gives you a handsome income or profit, perfect. The financial consideration however is secondary. But you are uniquely gifted by God because he has a specific plan laid out for you, that will produce in you the greatest fruit for the greater glory of God. The key to success therefore is continually seeking God and remaining in Christ.

  13. Mighty says:

    thanks Ptr. Caloy. I haven’t read Jim Collins’ book yet but I’ve read two-three books that deal with this topic, too.

  14. Java Nature says:

    good analysis about Passion, Skill and market,,, all three must work together in making innovations…

  15. tonyboy says:

    That’s very inspiring. I just got the taste of pursuing my passion and it’s really true that I can stay all day long without getting bored.

    Your message is perfect for me as a starter. I’m still on the stage of honing my skills and eventually make it to marketing. Thank you.

  16. uasknow says:

    I follow your website and found very informative information in this blog, so keep it up and thankyou for sharing this post with us.

  17. DiNaRa says:

    A happy person is a person who can combine his passion and work. As a rule, we have to refuse something: very often it is passion.
    I gonna try to combine my skills with my passion or make this overlapping bigger.

  18. Brandon Yanofsky says:

    Great article. I made this same mistake with my first company. I pursued my passion too much, but there was no market at all. At least not a sustainable one.

  19. Susan says:

    Of course, everything you mentioned is correct and overlapping these circles is a good idea but I think that we have (and I know some) people who can apply their skills towards the market needs and they work excellently but without passion. So, such situation is also possible.

  20. HP toner expert says:

    And you’re a Filipino! Proud of you! Keep it Up!

  21. Dan says:

    You can’t pursue your passion without money, but if you work then you have little time to do what you’d like to do. It’s a vicious circle, but somehow we need to reach a balance.

  22. Best hosting service says:

    Really good work about passion and market. And without passion and skill we can’t do anything.

  23. semmy @ Make Money Online says:

    Hi Mighty awesome article and really good info graphics! I agree with you, if we want to start a business we must have a passion and skill. thanks again!

  24. Brittany Rubinstein says:

    Really great post. This is a concept I never really thought about, but it’s very true. Thanks for opening my eyes to this idea 🙂

  25. mrohila says:

    Really good work about passion and market. And without passion and skill we can’t do anything.

  26. mrohila says:

    Mighty awesome article and really good info graphics! I agree with you

  27. Prasenjit @ Easy Ways to Make Money says:

    an awesome visual explanation. good to know that there are still people like you who can sacrifice their job/life for the good of others. i respect this attitude of yours from the bottom of my heart.

    Good luck Mighty.

  28. Mosaic says:

    “Just keep doing what you’re doing. But don’t forget to look for opportunities for growth”

    Very inspiring

  29. Andrea says:

    did a search on passion and it brought me here…truly encouraging to read your testimony Mighty! I’m a dance teacher/choreographer (PASSION), but work is usually PT/inconsistent and income is often insufficient. So my goal is to open my own dance studio offering children’s and adult classes (MARKET) with some kind of wellness component (nutrition coaching, spa services…). I have the education and teaching experience (SKILLS), but lack in terms of business know-how and finances to get it off the ground. I’d also like to start a non-profit for adult professional artists facing similar circumstances (MARKET). I would like to help people develop their skills-set so they have a foundation to move through multiple work fields and still pursue their artistic goals.

    in addition, I recently started a blog (not dance-related) so I would like to incorporate my newfound joy of writing into the picture as well.

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