I am a psychiatrist in private practice and I feel like I have come across almost the entire range of different individuals. Each of them with their various talents, interests and careers. Some have been successful others not. Some loved what they did for a living others despised it. It was not obvious how people chose what to pursue as a goal and why some were successful and happy and others not. One day while listening to the Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson he reminded me of something I had read twenty years earlier in my life. When I was twenty years old I devoured the books (the complete written works) of the great Psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Peterson reminded me that it was Jung who had said: people don't have Ideas, Ideas have them. This same thinking applies to what you find "interesting" or feel "passion" for. You don't choose what interests you, it is very much the case that your interest is somehow suddenly captured by something completely unexpectedly. Later you most likely will struggle to articulate clearly to others why "this" interests you and not "that". The reason, I believe, is that you have very little choice in the matter. It is frightening to think that we are governed to a large extent by forces within us, beyond our control, of which we are, for the most part, completely unaware. However frightening though it is, at some point we need to face this reality. Human beings are incredibly complex creatures, so complex, in fact, that we are ultimately a complete mystery to ourselves. There is far more to us than what we can understand and put into words. We don't even know how much more there is. I don't claim to understand such things as mysterious as our Unconscious Self. However, it has been my observation as a highly rational professional, trained in the scientific method that Intuition, for lack of a better term, seems necessary in making major decisions, under uncertain circumstances, when we don't have all the information available to us. However, you soon realize you will never have all the information available to you. Intuition can be thought of as perceptions we experience that do not arise though our normal sensory modalities. They simply seem to appear, to manifest themselves, often with incredibly deep insights about who we are, what we should do or where we should go. How can we know, or where do we store, so much important information about ourselves and our lives at such a deep level that we are, for the most part, completely unaware of it? Intuition seems to be a cognitive skill that can be improved and refined with practice. In the beginning our intuition is unsophisticated and immature. With practice and time, one's intuition becomes a highly refined cognitive skill with striking accuracy. We need our intuition, as it serves as the guide that plots a trustworthy course for us to follow, in a world where the amount of information and possibilities would be overwhelming to our consciousness. Many people completely ignore their intuition, and it has been my observation that generally they end up walking a sub-optimal, or even destructive, path through life. If you have the necessary ability and are conscientious enough then I suggest the following as the next best step to take towards success. Make your absolute best attempt to act in accordance with what you feel, at the deepest level of your being, to be true, despite the potential cost. I truly believe that if you do this, your manifold talents will naturally manifest themselves to you and success will find you without any need for you to seek it out. That is a fool's errand and often ends in anger and bitterness. Usually I advise younger people to start pursuing a goal they see as worthwhile as soon as possible. It very often will not turn out to be the thing that they end up doing as a career. However, just moving in a "good" direction, opens doors, widens your horizons and expands your mind. There is so much more I could tell you regarding this particular quandry and please call me if you found what I said to carry some value or meaning for you. In the meantime I will leave you with a quote taken from the great German writer and poet Goethe: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has Genius, Power and Magic in it". I hope my thoughts have provided some help in answering your question and I look forward to speaking to you in more depth, in the future.
This was something I struggled with early on. I didn't really know what would be my calling.
At first I thought there were some "logical" paths. So I started studying for med school, and even though I wasn't excited about it, it felt like it made sense.
After some really hard reflection I felt this wasn't the best path and just started meeting with everyone I could. People from every type of industry and asking them what they do.
Over time I would get very drawn in to certain conversations and I'd realize that I was getting excited imagining doing the work they were working on. This is what I call "the pull", that intuitive excitement that is initially really hard to explain. I followed that pull, ended up starting a company that went on to raise millions and impact thousands of peoples lives positively and haven't looked back since.
TLDR: Talk to as many people as possible. When you start to feel excited about something, follow that feeling wherever it leads.
My first venture outside of corporate, I decided to do something within the realm of that same industry, it felt familiar and I knew parts of the market and how the idea could work. I mistook this at first for passion, although it was a niche and the opportunity I identified within that industry seemed promising, it wasn't a passion. A few years later after the initial drive had burned up and the realization came to me that I was never really passionate about the industry, I decided to exit. Reflecting upon that and it has been a few years since being engaged in various passion projects and ventures, I can clearly see the difference in the initial project and the latter.
The initial project seemed familiar and comfortable, which made me believe that this was my domain of expertise. I have come to realize my expertise could be applied to other industries and it was just that I was comfortable within that familiar industry that I mistook the industry for my passion for the work I was doing, whereas in reality, my passion was in the work itself.
Reflecting upon this question, I believe that passion is something that you come across when you have experienced enough to realize it and to hone any talent in life is through practice. Experiential learning and practice is probably the best way to become successful at your own marketable talent. This reflects in both your own personal growth but also professional growth, the more you engage in your skillset and expose yourself to the market, the more you build in your own confidence of it but also your own network/referrals within that domain of expertise grow.
The best thing to do is to analyze your habits, where have you always found yourself to be? For example, I always found myself looking for opportunities and generating a multitude of different choices to select from. Because I noticed this pattern I entered into Sales+Marketing. More specifically I noticed what I personally had the most fun doing and what I also had the best results with was lead generation.
A lot of success in a particular industry has to do with personality type. Someone who does not like to read or stay in one spot for a very long time should not be a contract lawyer, just like someone who despises physical activity should not be a professional athlete. You do not need to love something to be good at it, but you have to ask yourself... am I willing to stick through the tough times in order to bask in the good times? Is this something I am committed to?
With this approach you can then narrow down some of your patterns, behaviors, and thinking styles into niches which are clearly more favorable for you. From there it is a lot easier to ask others and interview, or just jump in and test a multitude of different scenarios and make a choice.
Hope this helps, thanks.
There are many reasons why your real marketable talent isn't instantly recognisable to you i.e you may be a generalist wearing many hats, your personality, existing skill set etc.
Your issue is the same issue many businesses face- finding the right niche with the highest commercial return. My advice is to investing in yourself as you would a business. Talk to seasoned experts that have managed many team members- they will give you immediate insights into your marketable talent AND talk to a recruiter- their job is to "package" and "market people- even if you don't see it a good recruiter will.
This is a starting point to give you valuable insights into the demand for YOUR talent. Once you have clarity on your individual talent THEN you can focus on all the experts and digital resources that will help you be successful at it! :)
Ps. I own a digital consultancy firm and a headhunting firm happy to wear both hats and provide advice so you can hit the success button quicker!
I started a global branding and marketing firm 18 years ago. I did not plan on starting a company. I always wanted to go work for a large multi-national business and be a Fortune 500 CEO. When I was a student I looked at leaders like Meg Whitman & Ursula Burns as my role models. I started my career on Wall Street in the 80s and had a successful career in Corporate America at companies like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola and worked at 3 different startups as the head of marketing. Those jobs gave me great experience but I really started to love my career when I became an entrepreneur and took the leap right after 9/11 when the company I worked for cut their marketing. I had nothing to lose. Being an entrepreneur provides me a platform to do work I truly enjoy with and for people I respect. I get to set my priorities, I have time to travel and hang out with my inner circle, and work out every day. It has been a journey to get here but I am lucky to have found it. I love the autonomy, flexibility and the fact that I know every day the impact that I have on my business. When I worked at big companies I always felt the ball would roll with or without me, that if I got hit by a bus someone new would be in my office right away. Now my DNA is in everything we do and I can trace every decision and sale to something I did or a decision I made and that is incredibly gratifying and fulfilling. Like most entrepreneurs, I am working harder and longer than ever and I have never been happier. Working for yourself and building a business you started in incredibly rewarding and gratifying. It has been a lot of fun, I joke that I am the accidental entrepreneur. I knew I had made it as an entrepreneur when Harvard wrote 2 case studies on my business a few years after I started it, we were very early to pioneer sharing resources on the marketing front (before my company it was really only done with HR, legal and accounting/finance).
I do not think I could ever go back. I am so much happier and more productive as an entrepreneur than I ever was working for others. It is all about controlling your calendar. I no longer try to squeeze in more meetings or hit multiple events at night. As an entrepreneur, I can be selective. Less really is more. i’ve chosen quality over quantity. It sounds trivial but it is true. I created a platform to do work I enjoy and feel energized by. I feel I have found my purpose because I used to work all the time and life was passing me by. I got raises and promotions but I was all work and no play and I did not feel fulfilled. Since starting my business I have joined boards and volunteered at several organizations. I am a mentor to the next generation of leaders and have helped build a very successful anti-bullying program that 100,000 middle school aged kids have gone through. As a marketing consultant I am able to write articles, contribute to books and speak at events to share my experience and lessons learned.
My advice would be:
Patience — It really is a marathon not a sprint so do not set arbitrary goals like being named 30 under 30 or 40 under 40 because it may take you longer than Mark Zuckerberg to hit your stride and that's ok. Most people take many detours on their career path before finding their true calling. Don't be disappointed if you get to 40 and are still exploring because the journey really is a great adventure so enjoy it!
Fail fast — Don’t be scared to fail, just learn from every bump in the road so you make better mistakes next time, that is where you learn the most! You learn to do by doing. Course correct and pivot along the way, it makes for a fun career path.
Keep learning — Finishing school is not the end of your education, you will be a student for the rest of your life so never stop learning new things. Your education is just starting to get really interesting and the grades don't matter anymore. Be a sponge for knowledge & enjoy the learning process.
Success is personal and your definition will change over time. That is normal and shows maturity, find what matters to you and don't worry about anyone else.