After the event, Darius posted some of the questions he uses to figure out more about passion.
I was thinking about the questions in my toolbox, and I realized that I approach things very differently from the way that many bloggers I’ve read (particularly those who push personal branding) approach this discovery process.
I do ask people about their passions when starting a conversation, but that’s an opener that’s there so that I can see if they light up. It gets them away from the name-occupation spiel. If people stumble and don’t have a clear passion, that’s okay.
Looking at the questions I see on these personal development blogs, I often feel that questions assume you need to have a clearly definable passion that you can easily differentiate from other things you think about. While many people respond to that challenge, others might feel even more discouraged.
Me, I like discovering my passions through small steps. I’m not looking for a huge flame I had been previously unaware of. I’m just looking for a spark I can cultivate. That often emerges when I focus on relentless improvement and on sharing, two of the categories I’ve listed here. Other questions help me clarify, develop, and expand that interest. Passion isn’t something I expect to spring full-formed (Athena from Zeus’ forehead?). It’s something I grow into.
Discovery is shaped by the questions you ask. Some questions are sheer rock faces that are hard to get a grip on. Some questions are paths already marked by others so you know where to go. Some questions give you a lot of holds so that you can work your way around tough parts. Some questions are the shortcut walking trail a sherpa points out to you. ;)
Maybe some of these big-picture questions might help you think about your interests and passions, and maybe some of the more tactical ones will help you think about other things you do. Here’s a Swiss Army toolkit of small questions I use to think about things, and I hope to add more as I learn!
- What worked well?
- How can I make this even better?
- What difference do I want to make, and why does it matter?
- What can I do?
- What can I help other people do?
Planning – dreams
- What do my ideal days look like? How can I get closer to that?
- What doesn’t matter to me? What can I say no to?
- What do I want to build, experience, or share?
- What are the different ways I can make that happen?
Planning – Career
- What kind of value do I want to create?
- What does wild success look like?
- What skills can I develop?
- What do I need to take the next step and scale this up?
- Who can I touch, reach out to, influence, or help?
Planning – long term
- What’s the best case scenario?
- What are the curveballs that I might deal with? Probabilities?
- How can I make a safety net?
- How can I increase my chances of a favourable outcome?
Planning – short term
- What are my priority items?
- How much time do I have? Will it fit?
- What important things should I plan for?
- How can I have fun, learn, and create value?
- How can I make this easier, more efficient, more effective, or more fun for myself and others?
- How can I share what I’ve learned?
- How much can I share with the world?
- Who might find this useful?
- How can I make this easy to find, especially for me?
- What are you passionate about?
- What does wild success look like?
- What could make you even happier?
- What do you need to get there?
- What part of this can I delegate?
- What do people need to do this?
- What does good output look like?
- What limits are there?
- Why does this matter?
- What should people do or feel?
- What do they come in with?
- What’s my key message?
- What stories and examples can I share?
- How can I organize this?
- What interaction can I build in? What questions should I expect?
- How can I make this even shorter and clearer?
- What do I want to learn from this?
Evaluating a presentation opportunity
- Why does this matter to the audience? To the organizer? To me?
- What can I say that is new, will make people think, and will make people act?
- How can I scale this up before and after the event?
- What’s the context?
- What do I want to say? Why does it matter?
- How can I illustrate it?
- Can I make it clearer?
- What am I missing?
- What’s related to this?
- How can I be present and enjoy life?
- How can I express love?
- How can I move my goals forward?
Figuring things out
What’s the end point?
- What has to happen before that? (and so on)
Where are we now?
- What can we do right now to move toward the goal?
- Why? (at least five times)
- What’s the end point?
Social media adoption
- What’s the immediate personal benefit?
- What’s the long-term personal benefit?
- What’s the social benefit?
How can we enable the social benefit with minimum
- What are the challenges? How do we address them?
- Who are out there?
- What are the details of the request?
- What communities are relevant?
- What keywords can I search for?
- Who else do I know?