How A Person With No Passion In His Career Pursued And Found His Passion
In my career, I’ve had no passion and a lot of passion for what I do. Believe me, it’s like living two completely different lives.
I have a mechanical engineering degree. Two main reasons. One, my dad is an engineer. And two, I’m good at math and science. But not because I wanted to be a great engineer someday.
My first job was in R&D, designing toys for the world’s #1 toy company, Mattel. Great industry, great company, great boss, great colleagues, and interesting work. But most days were very long. I watched the clock. I did my job well, but I had no passion for it. Engineering work just didn’t suit me. So after five years, I decided to search for what I might feel passionate about doing.
Today, I’m in the talent industry. In my 20+ years running my recruitment and talent development company, I’ve had big highs and lows. But through it all, I remain dedicated and passionate about what I do. That’s why I’m such a big supporter of anyone who pursues their passion. It isn’t easy. It takes courage. But it’s worth it. So if you aspire to fully utilize your talent and potential, and do something that’s meaningful to you, here’s how to pursue and find your passion.
1) Leave what you have no passion for – Early in your career, it’s hard to know what your passion is. Because frankly, it’s much easier to find what you don’t enjoy or have a passion for doing than it is to find what you do.
For me, I only knew that I had no passion for being an engineer. It’s a great profession, but it just didn’t fit my personality, interests, and what I wanted to become successful at. As to what would, I didn’t have a clue.
What I did – To find my passion, I knew the first step was to leave my current situation. So I walked away from my stable, but uninspiring engineering job and jumped into a completely different situation where I might discover what I might really enjoy doing. The best environment I could think of to do this was business school.
2) Point yourself in the right direction - For most, finding your passion will take you on a winding road. It’ll take time. For me, it took about eight years.
Now, the thing about winding roads is that you can only see further down them by rounding the next corner. You also can’t see where you’ll end up or when you’ll get there. At the beginning, the key is to pick a good road and direction to travel.
What I did – To do this, I thought about “3 elements”, or factors that were most important to me. It took me a couple months, but identifying them gave me a clearer sense of what I wanted to pursue.
My three elements were 1) business, 2) helping people, and 3) China. I was much more interested in the business world than engineering/manufacturing world. And rather than look at a computer all day, I wanted to interact with people. Helping others energized and brought out the best in me. And then China, the place I wanted to have an impact.
Over the years, you can see these three elements in every job move and career decision I’ve made. What about you? What three elements do you hope can be part of what you pursue in your career?
3) Talk to as many people as you can – My next move was to broaden my understanding of the business world and different careers. The quickest way I could think of doing this was to talk to people, especially those were successful at something that looked interesting to me.
What I did – I started joining different business events and activities. My MBA program At UCLA was a great place to do this. I talked to marketing professionals, consultants, entrepreneurs, lawyers, basically, anyone who did something that I wanted to learn more about. I asked people about what they did, what they liked and didn’t like about their job, and what it took to do it well. That’s how I began to understand what different professions and industries are really about.
For career guidance and inspiration, I also talked to people I looked up to with successful careers, like my mom, my uncles, and boss at Wang Computers. I’d ask about how they found their passion. About how did they become so good at what they did, and what advice they had for me? These talks gave me many insights and tips for pursuing my own career.
4) Overcoming “the fear”– While I needed to push myself outside of my comfort zone, I was also afraid of facing new challenges and failing. To learn and grow faster though, I had to overcome this constant fear I had.
Overcoming my fear to do and try new things was the toughest step for me to pursue my passion. “What if this, what if that,” constantly went through my mind. I’d think of 10 reasons why I might fail at something.
I wasn’t going to find my passion by sitting around and thinking about it. I needed to try and experience new things to find out how much I might really like doing something. But putting yourself into unfamiliar situations is easier said than done.
What I did – In situations like this, you need to reach a basic understanding of your situation and choices. Then, make a clear decision for yourself. I thought about what I was afraid of more. Was it pursuing something different and better, and possibly failing? Or remaining in my current situation, with no hope of anything improving?
When put this way, I realized I was much more afraid of settling for a life without passion, than I was of trying to pursue my passion and failing. If I tried, there was at least a chance my situation could improve. But if I didn’t try, there was no chance. Ultimately, I told myself that if I wasn’t successful, I could always go back to my passionless engineering career.
例如，在读MBA时，有人让我去竞选“亚洲管理学学生社团（Asian Management Students Association）”的主席，一般我会避免担任领导职务，因为我没有自信。但现在，领导技能对我来说十分重要，而这是我培养领导力的绝佳机会。
In addition, to not give myself time to overthink things, whenever a new situation came up, I’d just join it. If a new opportunity appeared, I’d just go for it.
For instance, I was asked to run for president of AMSA (Asian Management Students Association) in my MBA program. Usually, I avoided leadership roles. I didn’t have the confidence. But leadership skills were important to me now, and this was a great opportunity for me to build them.
So I just said, yes. I’ll run. I didn’t have a plan or any idea what I should do. But once I committed myself to the situation, something interesting happened. I began figuring out what I needed to do. Thoughts and ideas started coming to mind. Once I knew I had to do it, it turns out I actually had some sense for how to lead.
5) Enjoy the journey!– As you experience new things and discover what you may have a passion for doing, there will be disappointments, frustrations, and less-than-ideal situations. Not everything you do will be successful. But you need to look for the lessons you’re supposed to learn. And actually, when pursuing something significant, you spend most of your time on the road to your objective. So you need to enjoy the journey.
What I did – There have been many occasions where I’ve felt frustrated about my situation. Many times, I’ve questioned what I’m doing. This is when I’d remind myself to embrace everything that was happening to me. I’d just tell myself, “Wow, you really suck!” Or, “I guess I’m not as brilliant as I thought!” And then laugh about it and move on.
In the end, everything you go through helps you improve and know yourself better. Even your failures and mistakes help you grow and get you closer to where you want to go. And later on, they become your entertaining, inspiring stories to others.
While pursuing new challenges and situations to find my passion, I was constantly unsure if I could perform in them well. I usually lacked the capabilities and confidence at the beginning. But I knew I had to just focus on doing what I needed to do. I had to give myself room to learn, and even make mistakes.
So I’d tell myself that I may not be the smartest, most capable one to do it well, but I believed I was smart and capable enough. I was also willing to work as hard as needed, and 110% committed to delivering a great result. All this still didn’t guarantee my success, but it helped me focus on what I could offer, rather than what I couldn’t yet. No matter what you face, it’s important to believe in yourself and in your purpose.
1994年，我成立了自己的猎头公司“王李亚洲资源”。今年早些时候，我推出“职商网”，希望这个网站能成为中国职场人“您首选的职业发展网站” （Your Go-To Website For Career Guidance And Inspiration）。我致力于帮助其他人追求成功，无论他们定义的成功是什么。这就是我希望做的事情。之前我做过的一切都仿佛在将我引向如今的自己和如今的事业。
In 1994, I founded my recruitment firm, Wang & Li Asia Resources. Earlier this year, I launched zhishangwang.com, which I hope can become Your Go-To Website For Career Guidance And Inspiration for many Chinese professionals. I am dedicated to helping others pursue and achieve their career success, whatever that may be. This is what I was meant to do. It’s as if everything I did before led me to where I am and what I’m doing today.
This is how I found my passion. Everyone’s journey is different. Embrace and enjoy every step of yours. Because ultimately, you’re trying to find what will make you both successful and happy. That’s a journey worth taking and destination worth pursuing.