Hide & Seek, Passion & Biology

The magical pill. The key to success & a meaningful life. The dream life, the one we’re all chasing. The central concept in many oh so overrated quotes…

‘Find your passion and never work a day in your life’

As much as I wanna call bullshit, I’m afraid I can’t. It’s true. If you find your passion, you’ll work weekends, evenings, nights, maybe even national holidays. Work won’t feel like work, you’ll be on a quest to solve the next puzzle that awaits you. You’ll want to master the skills required to achieve your goals, you’ll push yourself, but most importantly you’ll be focused. Passion equals focus.

As humans, we pay more attention to things we believe in. But focused attention is the ultimate gateway drug, driving performance & increased levels of productivity. Triggering what psychologists would call a “flow state“.

In positive psychology a flow state is the full immersion, complete disassociation from time & body creating a positive mental space leading to peak performance

More addictive than any drug, flow is an experience we will go extraordinary lengths to get more of. Akin to a heroin addict chasing a high, a runner losing himself on the track, passion will have us in pursuit of success. Whatever that may look like.

Drugs? Success, dream life, how do I find my passion?

To find your passion, start with what makes you curious. Don’t get side tracked! Pen & paper, not laptop & keyboard. Compile a list, every single item on said list must be something you’d read a book about over the weekend or want to talk to an expert about. Think what you did last weekend, the one before that & another one, before that.

Be specific, none of this “i like food” bullshit. I’m thinking “what differentiates humans from machines“, “what impact will technology have on our lives 100 years from now, based on the impact its had the past 100“, “why are humans the only conscious creatures on earth“. Notice I focused my energy on posing specific questions that invoke my curiosity. Write down as many as you can, the more the merrier, although I suggest trying to hit 10.

Next, the key. Overlap. Look for the overlap in what makes you curious, there should be some obvious overlaps even before thinking beyond the questions posed. My first two fairly obviously refer to technology but if you look at the third & relate it back to the first we can ask, “what if machines gained consciousness, what would happen then?

Keep branching out, question the questions & ensure you write them down! Slowly, you’ll see raw subjects emerge…

What you’re doing right now is finding where your curiosity is most concentrated, via the madman method. Where does my curiosity spill over into passion?  The goal with this method is to pinpoint what the core concept is, the one topic truly sparks your curiosity and drive to learn more.

The bottom line is simple, really. Curiosity alone is not enough of a driving force to create passion. There just isn’t enough energy there to maintain focus or commitment, but that place where three, four or five points intersect is golden. Neurobiology level golden.

At that point where multiple streams of curiosity intersect, the conditions for pattern recognition are most ideal. Humans biologically love pattern recognition. Whenever the brain recognises a pattern, it releases a tiny spurt of dopamine, necessary for cultivating passion. You have likely already heard of dopamine and its many biological functions, but we’re only concerned with three here:

  • Dopamine is a focusing chemical; enhancing learning; driving progress
  • It “tunes signal to noise rations” aka enhances pattern recognition meaning there’s a feedback loop; the more dopamine we get, the more patterns we’re able to recognise
  • Furthermore, dopamine is a feel good drug; not lethally addictive which is key

Finally

Its crucial to note that passion must be cultivated and it is not an overnight occurrence. This isn’t a 0 to 100 quick fix. Devote 10/20 minutes a day to listening to lectures, watching videos, reading articles, books, whatever.  Just invest a fraction of your day into diving into the questions you’re curious about. Feed those curiosities a little bit at a time, but feed them on a daily basis.

Learn the technical language; language is important! Enabling yourself to speak confidently to others about your passion will only instil it, or rather, further facilitate its’ development. There’s nothing more exciting than entering a conversation and being able to add to it; giving your own ideas, having them heard, respected & debated.

Now, you take that passion and find problems you can solve, turn it into a spearhead with purpose. Passion in of itself is a selfish experience, being consumed by this addictive high, driving you to only improve yourself while pushing those around you away through this ever decreasing alien concept of “free time”. This is why a massively transformative purpose is important, that is how you build your business, that is how you gear yourself to improve the world around you.

Finally, really finally 

I wrote this post while in a flow state. Time infused into words, the emotional satisfaction of sharing & an ability to break building blocks down into core concepts allowed me to gear my words accordingly. I have yet to read this back, I hope it makes sense & that you can make use of it, but regardless. The dopamine high was worth it.