When I was in engineering college I had an obsession - learning the guitar. I found an excellent teacher, and I became his sincere student. He had tremendous hope in me. I would practise regularly, I would never miss a class, I was making brilliant progress - technically. Within a year I had learnt the chords, I had memorised the fretboard, I could read music, and I could even do some impressive speed drills. Everyone was suitably impressed.
But even by the end of the second year, I could not play a song by memory. By the end of the third year I grew frustrated and my teacher grew even more determined to teach me. But even after listening to a song multiple times I could never play by ‘ear’.
My mother would tell me “why don’t you focus on art, you are so good at it. No one in our family has music in their genes!" But I was persistent. I believed I could learn.
I still believe I could have learn’t. But now I have a formula to help me understand my situation. It goes like this:
STRENGTH = (TALENT + INTEREST) X (TIME INVESTED)
I had close to zero talent, but dollops of interest (I could visualise the girls going crazy as I would strum away a romantic tune), and I invested time, lots of time. I did actually reach somewhere. Even today I can read written music and play. But if had invested the same time into art I would have progressed at rocket speed. I am doing it now 😃
I spent many years thinking about ‘finding my passion’. I believe I found it now - training, mentoring and working closely with youth. But I stumbled upon it. Or even better, I would say my passion found me.
Today, it seems to me to be a much better approach to focus on what I am naturally good at (my talents), develop my interest and curiosity in it, and then invest enough time and training to transform my talent into a STRENGTH.
Developing strengths is a joyful process. It makes me feel good about myself. It gets me the validation and appreciation I need. It also gets me the results I need. It energises me. Even if the strength I’m developing is not directly in my chosen career (e.g. for me - art and sketching) it gives me a lot of energy that flows into every aspect of my life. If it is in the field of my career (e.g. public speaking or writing for me) it is even more brilliant.
When I can focus on building strengths, and keep enjoying the process, I know that one day, my passion will find me!