The most common misconception about the Passion First Mindset is that simply having passions and thinking about them will bring them into your life. It’s important to start there, but to truly live Passion First, you need to be willing to make sacrifices and take risks when you’re pursuing what’s most important to you. This may involve doing something out of your comfort zone and going against the advice of others, even if they have your best interests at heart. Or, if you ask Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban, it might mean living on ketchup and mustard sandwiches while everything else goes into pursuing your dream! Here are a few examples of other individuals who faced huge risks and sacrifices in pursuit of their passions…
Ellen left college after just one semester to pursue her passion for stand-up comedy. While holding down jobs at the likes of J.C. Penney and T.G.I. Friday's, Ellen sharpened her material, slowly pursuing her dream. Within three years, she had become the emcee at a local comedy club, but it would take a more than a decade of castings, cancellations, setbacks and successes before Ellen DeGeneres truly established herself as a recognized comedic talent. Today, she is ranked as one of the 50 most powerful women in the world, a status she attained only through determination and perseverance.
In 1995, Matthew's young daughter, who had shown incredible vocal talent since the age of 8, decided that she wanted to pursue singing as a career. However, Matthew wasn't sure he could trust a manager he didn’t know to look out for her best interests. Faced with a difficult choice, he understood his daughter’s passion and believed so powerfully in her that he resigned from his job to manage her singing group himself. This cut the family income in half, creating immense strain on them, and even led Matthew and his wife to separate briefly. Finally, though, the risk paid off when the group, Destiny's Child, was signed to Columbia Records, and his daughter Beyoncé started on the path that would eventually make her the highest-paid African-American musician in history.
When Elizabeth was a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford University, she began to feel strongly that her tuition money could be used for a greater and more benevolent purpose. She decided to drop out to start a company that would revolutionize global healthcare. When she told her chemical engineering professor what she planned to do, he was concerned about her leaving her degree unfinished. Her reply was that she believed deeply in the idea of helping humanity at all levels, regardless of geography, ethnicity, age or gender.
Today, Elizabeth Holmes’ passion has become reality. Her company, Theranos, has created a blood test that is painless, more accurate, fast and cheap, making it perfect for use in poorer countries with little or limited access to traditional clinical blood testing. At just 30 years old, Elizabeth has become the world’s youngest billionaire, but only because she was willing to step away from what was safe and expected, risking her future to pursue her dream.
There are thousands of stories like these. Tom Hanks left college to be a full-time theater intern, and became one of the most respected and recognized actors in the world. Tech-whiz Kevin Rose used money planned for a down payment on a house to start the social news website Digg instead, and today is the millionaire head of Google’s entrepreneurial investment division. But remember, these aren’t just stories of individuals who dropped out or took risks without a goal or plan. They’re examples of people who needed to chase their passions, and didn’t feel compelled to follow conventional thinking in doing so.
If the path to your dreams requires a college education, a significant track record doing a particular job, or twenty hours a week at the gym, then get the most out of every minute you spend whichever of those you’re doing, and leverage the experience to bring your passion into alignment with your life. If you're just following along and doing what’s expected without a clear idea of what you want from life, think about whether your time and actions are really getting you where you want to be. You might need to take a different route, one that involves risk, sacrifice, and uncertainty, in pursuit of what you’re most passionate about. That is, if you’re ready to put your Passion First.
Until Next Week…
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