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How To Follow Your Passion – Part 1


“How Not To Follow Your Passion” should perhaps be the title of this post. In the following paragraphs I am going to attempt to help you figure out how to follow your passion. I will do this by explaining how I have failed at following my own passions, both in music and photography. Hopefully, in hearing my story you will get clarity about your own passion and how to truly follow it.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”

Oprah Winfrey

My First Passion To Follow

During my early teens, becoming a Fighter Pilot was my dream. Strapped into the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet, breaking the sound barrier a few thousand feet above the ground. It consumed me. I watched movies about it, read books and magazines, and played hours of flight-simulator games on my Atari 2600 (yep….old-school).

how to follow your passion blog - image of an F/A 18 super hornet aircraft

All through high school I chose all Maths and Science subjects to pave my way to my dream of flying. One particular class of Year 11 Chemistry at Mirboo North Secondary College in Victoria, Australia changed all that forever.

I can’t remember why but our teacher Mrs Oliver had brought out one of those books with lots of pictures with different coloured dots in them. You know the ones, where you can see shapes, letters or numbers in the different colours?

My friends were having a great time looking through the book, picking out all the images hidden in the colours. However when the book came to me, I was having trouble seeing what they were seeing. This quickly became intriguing to the entire class, including Mrs Oliver. Soon I had all attention on me as I struggled to see the differences in the coloured dots on the pages before me.

Words Like A Wave

how to follow your passion - a huge wave crashing against rocks
My dreams came crashing down like a wave

“I think you’re colour-blind.” Those words fell effortlessly from my teachers mouth and came down on me like a crashing wave. While my friends laughed and joked about it, I sat there staring into that book, watching my dreams melt into the blending colours. You can’t be a fighter pilot if you are colour-blind.

That one chemistry class affected me more than I knew back then. It lead to me almost quitting halfway through Year 12, and spending a lot of time unemployed after high school. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

Albert Einstein

Finding A New Passion To Follow

Passions can sneak up on you. Finding a new one can be as simple as trying new things. I wasn’t actively looking for my next passion when it came along with blinding clarity.

how to follow your passion - a guitarist sitting at a microphone

My sister had been trying to learn the guitar. When a sibling is doing something, it is natural to be curious and want to try it. I don’t remember the exact day that I first picked up her guitar, but I still remember the feeling of doing so.

a passionate guitarist playing a red guitar on stage

It was like coming home. It was as though that guitar belonged in my hands and always had done. I’d always loved music and listened to it all-day-long, however the thought of playing an instrument never occurred to me.

I spent a lot of time with that guitar in my hands and quickly became quite proficient. In fact, for the next 25 years it was rare to find me without a guitar in my hands.

I played with numerous Cover Bands, began writing my own songs, studied Jazz and Popular music at T.A.F.E., taught guitar to primary school students, recorded and released albums, and was convinced this was what I would do for the rest of my life.

Turning A Passion Into a Career

I had done a few seasonal jobs here-and-there to pay for my passion for music. In addition to those jobs, I had taught guitar for many years to be able to afford to live and buy new guitars and equipment. Teaching guitar however was not my passion. Playing guitar was my passion.

You can’t be successful at something until you put 100% of your time and effort into it. I decided to do just that- give up teaching, and just play guitar for a living.

That was what I did for the next 12 years, blissfully unaware that I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was doing this to benefit myself. I made it all about me and how I could earn money from it and completely forgot about my passion for it. This lead to me one day realizing that I was not enjoying it anymore, and I had not been enjoying it for many years.

I lost all drive to play the guitar. I put it down and did not pick it up for years. Just the thought of holding a guitar would stir up a horrible feeling, like it was a chore that I had to do, not something I loved to do. I was devastated. What was I supposed to do now? All I had known for the past 25 years was playing guitar and singing!

To Be Continued…..

In order to keep this from getting too long, I am going to continue this post next week. Please come back to read on about how I found yet another passion in photography. I will also give you more advice on how to truly follow your passions and come from the heart with everything you do.

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