Over the last couple months I’ve been talking to some of my graduates and friends about “Passion Projects”. These are ideas that when you think of them, they get your heart racing, your thoughts churning and your imagination going. They sometimes seem to be the ‘stuff of dreams’. They may or may not actually be completed in our waking life right now, due to the competition of the day to day, yet even with this delay or future chance of failure, there are reasons why the mind loves to “aim high and miss” rather than “aim low and hit”.

With One Arm Tied Behind my Back

Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, each of us has some strengths, some important gifts and some expertise. We may not feel that what we do well is as valuable as the skills others have but we possess them none the less. These positive strengths are often the starting point for doing something we’d love to do, yet sometimes I’ve found that people dismiss these dreams because they are both too easy and too challenging at the same time.

Too easy in that they tap into the gifts given to each one of us – that we question would be worthwhile to others because they are simple for us. Depending on our upbringing, we can devalue our gifts because we don’t have to work hard at it or put in extra time or strain ourselves in any way. They are sometimes the easiest win that may come without the challenge that may be expected before the reward.

Too difficult because we can see ourselves putting the rest of life aside for this all consuming passion. What might be sidelined if we did that? Who might we ignore, or how ‘obsessed’ might we become in our route to reach our goal, or how we might ‘miss’ something if we put all our energy and focus on that one thing that gets our system going? And what if it doesn’t work out in the end? Not only would we have put this above all the other priorities in our life, but we’d have to deal with the failure of it as well.

Get good, do well

I often quote the general idea of Benjamin Franklin, who spoke about “doing well and doing good”. Whether it’s interpreted that if you do well, you are in a position to help in doing good, or if you do good work, then you’ll more likely succeed in doing well is under debate, but I’d say that there seems to be a symbiotic relationship between the two.

What I’ve heard from many marketing coaches and have seen over and over, is that when we tend to delve deep into our strengths and specialty, bolstered to work hard at it because we like or love what we do, we tend to be aware of the problem that others face in their day to day lives (that tend to overlap into our area of expertise). From there we have the beautiful opportunity to find a solution for a particular problem, as well as benefit from the energy and rewards of putting it into place. While it doesn’t have to take over a full-time job, it can be a project that adds to your life (a passion project doesn’t take away from it).

Passion Plays (acting and watching)

So, what happens when you’ve got a great idea and want to put it into action? Well, there are many different approaches you can take from a business point of view, but I’ll focus on the mental standpoint that should make this journey more enjoyable:

First, it’s a journey. Have you ever told a story about a trip that DIDN’T go as planned and that turned up much more hilarious in the end. Realising that you made it through put it into better perspective. When you start a passion project, you’ll help yourself by looking back at the present as if it were already the future – which should increase your sense of foresight/hindsight and sense of humour.

Whenever you’re starting something new, you’re teaching your mind about its strengths and limitations. If you flub up, be gentle. If you succeed, remember to support yourself by acknowledging the effort you put in and the learning curve you’re following. Compassion is key during this time of growth. And as William Shakespeare is quoted “if you lack the virtue, act the virtue”.

If you’re playing the part, what about the audience. While some of them may be well meaning, it’s important to surround yourself with people who are positively supporting your goals and passions. An energy sucker can undermine your confidence and commitment, and like a seedling beginning to grow, you need nourishment to blossom. Our vulnerable subconscious tends to take in negative suggestions more easily as we learn, so this is a time to support ourselves with a margin of optimism.

In that circle of supportive individuals you might also find others who would love to contribute to your project. Sometimes the distance from the centre can give you better perspective and new approaches. While most entrepreneurs want to ‘do it on their own’, there are often benefits to collaboration through learning and feedback – and the distance from fear of failure/success tends to get the project off the ground sooner rather than later as well. Remember to interact with others who have strengths that you’d benefit from – the mind learns by repeat exposure.

My goal over the next year is to support a number of meaningful passion projects – if you’ve got an idea and want a positive and supportive force to add to your early days, please let me know. If it has something to do with the mind and how people work, so much the better, yet I’m a listening ear and tend to have a knack to help out with different perspectives. Email me directly and we’ll work on getting started.

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