I was listening to a programme on career guidance on radio last Sunday evening.
Barney Mpariwa invited young people to send their questions regarding career choices while an expert gave advice.
One young man said his dream was to become a doctor; unfortunately he failed to get enough high school points to get a place at the university. He ended up enrolling for a degree in Environmental Management instead. Now he is struggling to find a job in this field.
In response, the expert advised young people to follow their passion. He advised that they first find out what their passion is, then learn all they can about the requirements for a career in that field and make sure they are capable of meeting those requirements.
In the young man’s case, my understanding is that he should first have researched the academic requirements for the medical field and explored all the alternative routes to attaining that qualification, rather than going into a field he had no interest in. I think young people should take this advice seriously.
However, a question arises. How do you discover your passion?
I have asked scores of young people what their passion was and most of them could not give a straight answer.
In other words, they don’t know what their passion is; they don’t know what they want in life in the long term. Or worse still, they have no passion for anything, they will just accept whatever comes their way.
But what is passion? A dictionary describes passion as a strong and barely controllable emotion; a powerful or compelling feeling; a strong desire.
Curt Rosengren, a coach who helps people create careers that energise and inspire, defines passion as simply “the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.” (http://mapmaker.curtrosengren.com)
Simply put, this means being who you are and doing what comes naturally. When your career is aligned with who you are, what you really love, you get energy from doing it. It’s like water flowing along its natural riverbed.
It actually gains energy from the path it is taking, rather than struggling to force its way up a mountain, which is what most people experience in their daily work.
Passion is an obsession
Passion is not a specific job. It’s much deeper than a career.
Some people have a deep desire to help others. So they choose careers in medicine or nursing; or they volunteer into the Red Cross; or they work hard to search for a cure for cancer or HIV and Aids.
One could have a passion for fantasy or daydreaming. She becomes a novelist, a script writer, a cartoonist or a movie director. She will enjoy work in which her natural obsession flows freely.
One can create a business from any passion. Some people mistake following your passion to mean starting a business producing something that you love.For example, a person who loves food may want to start a restaurant. You have to realise that the market will not accept everything that people will produce.
The market needs specific things at specific times. If there are too many restaurants already, your passion will not make you money. You need to find a gap in the market, something that is not being done very well, or something that can be done better, or differently. If there is no space for a restaurant, why not start a food magazine, website or blog? Or organise a food club?
Some people have passions for building things or making things happen. They can start a business in any field and build it into a successful company, sell it and start again in a different sector altogether. Their passion lies, not in the type of business, but in the building of it; in creating and making things happen.
Through the Young Enterprise Club, we are encouraging young people to explore their passions and learn how to turn them into businesses from a young age. Young people and parents interested in being part of this initiative can find more information by visiting the website http://smebusinesslink.com and going to the Young Entrepreneurs page.
Phillip Chichoni is a business planning and financial management consultant who works with entrepreneurs and growing businesses. You may contact him on email@example.com.