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Which of My Passions Should I Pick?

Published:Wednesday | December 23, 2015 | 1:00 PM

QUESTION: I have a challenge and I would welcome your advice on how to deal with it. I am a qualified teacher who is employed, but I've always loved business. Right now, I do some moneymaking ventures on the side, but want to start a real business. The problem is that I cannot choose what to specialise in. I enjoy teaching, but I'm also passionate about other things. Having a daycare for young children appeals to me greatly as I love children. At the same time, I love the fashion industry, as well as the hospitality and tourism sectors. What should I do?

- S. Johnson

SMITH: Your challenge is one shared by a lot of people. If you had asked me this question face to face, my facetious three-word answer would be: just pick one. That answer, however, would make for a rather short newspaper column. So, let me elaborate.

great starting point

Recognising that you need to specialise is a great starting point. It's a clichÈ, but true, that a problem recognised and correctly defined is half solved. Being a jack of all trades, master of none, is a recipe for entrepreneurial ineffectiveness. Beyond recognising the problem, however, you should understand what's at the root of it.

Fundamentally, the problem is caused by your fear of making a mistake. You are afraid of choosing one passion to focus on, then later discovering another choice might have been better. At the moment, all of them feel right, so there's no way to tell for sure which one really is the right one.

If you're like most people, the more you think about the decision, the more frustrated you become. Reason being, as soon as you think up a good reason for choosing a particular entrepreneurial focus, no sooner do you have an opposing thought about why another one is better. Round and around goes your mind, in a merry-go-round of vacillation. It's time to get off this merry-go-round.

Here's how. Talk to a few trusted friends, colleagues or mentors who know you well. Ask them: what do you think I'm best at? What do you think I have a special talent for? Note their answers. If you can afford it, get professional career counselling. Then - and this is key - listen to your own heart. Not only your logical mind.


Which area resonates with you the deepest, emotionally? Which one makes you feel most alive and excited about making a meaningful difference in the world? Ultimately, only you can answer that. And you must.

Your fear of making a mistake will not disappear. However, you can 'feel the fear and do it anyway.'

In his book, Usain Bolt: My Story, the sprinting legend noted: "I was a lover of all sports when I was growing up. I took up athletics because I was the fastest, but I did enjoy playing cricket and football. Much as I loved football and cricket, running came so easy to me."

With the help of his parents and high school teachers, he made the decision to just pick one - the one he was best at. It's a sound strategy.

n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist.

He is the author of 'From

Problems to Power' and co-author

of 'Profile of Excellence'.