I state in my book, Working Toward Excellence, that it is very hard to work toward excellence if you are not passionate about what you do.  So how do you discover your passion?

I am currently reading Fred 2.0 by Mark Sanborn, his follow-up to his 2004 business bestseller, The Fred Factor, a wonderful story about Fred Shea, a Denver-area postman who makes an extrordinary difference in people’s lives by providing his customers – his friends – with exceptional service and uncommon creativity, care, and passion.

Orison Swett Marden said, “What we do for a living does not matter as much as how we do it.”  This could not be more true when you look at how Fred the Postman does his job and lives his life.  In this post, I’d like to focus on 3 of Mr. Sanborn’s tips on how to discover your passion, taken from Fred 2.0 along with some of my own thoughts.

1.  What Riles You?  According to Sanborn, “Irritation can be a great motivator.  Are their problems or annoyances that drive you up the wall?”  I have always written about things that bother me.  When I see incompetence or mediocrity, it gets my blood boiling – especially if it effects my students or my family.  It doesn’t take long for me to become passionate about something when I see, read, or experience something that really bothers me.  In fact, most of my articles and both of my books would never have been written without getting riled up first!

2.  What Interests You?  Sanborn states, “What do you like to read about and study?  Do you find yourself returning to the same topics again and again?”  This is a great place to start when trying to discover your passion.  What section of the bookstore do you gravitate to?  What magazines, websites, and blogs attract your attention?  What do you enjoy doing and what would you like to do if it were possible?  Everyone has interests.  Very often, an interest can become a passion and passion can become a purpose.  My interest in teaching percussion became a passion for making a difference in the lives of my students, using music as a vehicle.  I later discovered that my job is not to teach percussion, it’s to teach people. 

3.  What Would You Do For Free?   Sanborn asks us, “Is there an activity you enjoy so much that you would do it for free?”  When you are truly passionate about something, you are not concerned with payment.  Though you want (and need) to get paid, money is not your driving force.  Instead, you are intrinsically motivated by your passion.  As an author, I am passionate about writing.  My goal was to get my book, Working Toward Excellence published.  I had something to say about excellence – and mediocrity – and I wanted to write a book that would inspire people to achieve uncommon success and reach their full potential.  I was willing to sacrifice my time, money, and energy on something I was very passionate about.

Discovering what you are passionate about is one of the most important journeys you will ever undertake.  Like the rest of us, Fred Shea also took this journey when he went to work for the post office, only to discover that through the relationships he built with the people he was delivering mail to, his passion for doing his job in an uncommon way was ignited.  Fred is driven to serve, but he  also found his calling and his true purpose.  For more on the inspiring story of Fred Shea, check out Fred 2.0.