Finding your Passion


I have spent the last few days in Dallas for the ASTD International Conference. As part of this event, I was privileged to be present for Sir Ken Robinson’s Keynote Address. As usual, he was funny, articulate and above all, inspirational. He mused on why we do certain things as human beings. He suggested that talent alone was not the catalyst for happiness. Moreover, he would say that that someone isn’t in their element unless they have a passion for what they do. During his address, Sir Ken stressed that people should find what they’re passionate about—both in work and in life. “What really makes you successful at what you do is passion,” he said. “A strong passion with moderate talent will get you much further than moderate passion and tremendous talent.”

We have all met people in our profession, who have taken the safe option of teaching because they can do it, not because they get tremendous joy from it. These hollow vessels, who are actively disengaged, will ultimately extinguish the enthusiasm and passion in their learners. For these people, I have this advice - Do yourselves (and everyone else) a favour and get out of the job and find something that truly makes you happy. So many people out there get little pleasure from the work they do, Robinson explained. But others love what they do and can’t imagine doing anything else. These are the people we have to be attracting to the profession, even if they are unconventional or a little quirky. “We spend a lot of time suppressing and ignoring the things we have an interest in doing,” he said. Instead we must embrace what we’re good at and what piques our interest. “This combination of passion and talent is what it means by being in your element.” Sir Ken said that “we all have deep talents, but it’s often the case that we don’t discover them”. “There’s a crisis connected to the fact that people haven’t found passion in their lives,” he said.

He cited the fact that by 2020 the second largest cause of mortality worldwide is predicted to be depression. “Happiness is not a material state at all; it’s a spiritual state,” he said. “When you’re happy, your spirits can be rip-roaring.” To unlock this potential, Robinson said we have to go “digging” for our talents and stop ignoring what appeals to us. As educators we have to provide opportunities for learners to discover their talents and explore where these talents may lead them. Once we create the conditions to grow and nurture that talent, “we all can benefit,” Robinson said.

Marc Ratcliffe