Following Your Gift Versus Your Passion
Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.
Follow your gift! Follow your passion! How many of us have heard either statement spoken from successful business people and motivational speakers? From Warren Buffett to Tony Robbins to Steve Harvey, the message is oftentimes inspirational but sometimes conflicting. Think back to the times when you've considered yourself most successful, however you may define success. Were you following your gift or your passion? Now think about the times when you were doing something that made you gleefully happy. What were you following then? Your gift or your passion?
I’ve recently become very interested in figuring out whether one path is really better than the other and whether the two concepts are mutually exclusive. Which one leads to a “better” life? Following your gift? Following your passion? I can see value in both...here are my thoughts:
Following Your Gift
Your gift is something that comes easy for you.
Whether it’s singing or drawing or caring for people, your gift is something that’s organic and comes natural to you. I remember a guy named Adam in elementary school. We must have been about ten or eleven years old when we shared a class together. There are two things that I remember distinctly about Adam—he was an avid collector of Garbage Pail Kid cards and he could draw like no one I’d seen before. Adam could draw anything from dinosaurs to complex caricatures of faces with an amazing level of detail. He was naturally gifted at drawing and at such a young age, he had this innate talent despite no formal training.
Fast forward to adulthood, I’ve met many people that have pursued the things that came easy to them, only to be unfulfilled. For example, peers that were gifted at math and science who went into engineering, only to graduate and do a complete 180 into a different field like childcare. Although they possessed gifts in fields that were widely sought after and lucrative, those gifts failed to sustain them in a way that mattered to them.
Following Your Passion
Your passion is something that you love doing and would do for free, even if you aren’t particularly great at it.
I had a friend years ago that loved to dance and loved watching people dance. If there was music, she was dancing. No music? No worries. She’d still dance. She wasn’t a classically trained dancer but her moves were somewhat impressive. I’d say better than average. She loved to do it and quite possibly, if she’d invested time and energy into a coach, would have gotten measurably better but would likely never grace any professional stage. Dancing was her passion but far from a gift and she ended up going into a pretty standard, non-creative field. Would she have been happier pursuing a career related to dancing? Yes. Would she have had to compromise on the quality of her lifestyle? Absolutely.
So, what do you do? Follow your gift or passion? Like most things in life, there isn’t a cut and dry answer. It’s highly personalized. I think most of us try to use our gifts to earn a living and pursue our true passions outside of work to gain fulfillment. My observation is that a gift may not necessarily bring you happiness but it could bring you prosperity.
Your gift appeals to your brain while your passion appeals to your heart. The people that are able to have the two align are quite fortunate but seem to be relatively rare.
In the end, I do believe you should do what makes you happy. And if it means following your gift so that you can make money to pursue your passion, so be it. Alternatively if it means sacrificing extravagances in your life so that you can pursue passion, that’s great as well. With focus and diligence your passion may turn into a gift that can sustain you financially.
Whatever the path, just try to make it priority to find your happy and know that having both is possible with some thoughtfulness and creativity.