IS PASSION MORE IMPORTANT THAN SKILL?
A simple Google search will show you several debates about which is more important; passion or skill. In fact, these two virtues are not the only things that get debated about in the world of work, business and life in general. This piece may not give a literal answer to the question, “Is passion more important than skill?” What I will discuss in this article today is what it takes to become a complete package to face any challenge and take up any opportunity that crosses our path in life and at work.
Passion for some people is what is new and exciting. We have all known individuals who become passionate for a cause, a business, a product, or a thought when it is fresh and exciting, only to lose interest before fulfilment, racing on to the next thing. Passion has limits, and without the steady hand of experience or getting better at the job, passion will diminish overtime, and in many cases, leaving you feeling lacklustre and hardly motivated.
For me, passion has been a great propeller to where I have reached in life, of course, in addition to continuous training and skill learning. A long time ago, I worked in the banking sector. It had not necessarily been a dream of mine to work in a financial agency. However, I grew up with family that understood and practised business quite well. Naturally, I gravitated towards that field. Although I had the skill required of me to excel in the industry, I did not have that drive to make remarkable impact. Instead, I found passion in the beauty and wellness industry. This passion was so strong that although I had no skill, I was determined to succeed. Soon, I realised that passion was not enough to keep me in and ahead of the game. I needed a skillset, a toolbox with remarkable ability to deliver. And so, I saved and invested everything I had into learning the skills I needed to start a wellness business. Can you imagine the sad situation I would have found myself in had I just started my spa business with no knowledge and skill whatsoever? Would I be able to properly serve the community that patronised my business if I did not deliver on my promise to serve them excellently with everything regarding wellness and beauty?
I have met so many people, who after many years of working in a particular industry, position or job have left to chase their dreams or follow their passion. I strongly believe in purpose and passion. Sometimes, what you have a passion for may not be your purpose. Yet, we find ourselves pursuing certain passions anyway. That is simply because the human mind is capable of making sense of anything and making it work once the basic requirement of hard work is fulfilled. Similar to everything else in life, balance is key. So even with passion, there are a million other requirements that will determine whether or not you will succeed. Likewise, even with skill, there are a million other things that will determine whether or not you will succeed.
I believe passion is a necessity for everything in life. And I also believe knowledge and skill are crucial in building and sustaining passion and achieving success. For me, passion is easy to birth. Simply loving what you do can fuel your passion for it. “Passion is the enthusiasm or excitement we have for something, or the act of doing something. It is our primary instinct that we love a particular activity, and although it can be fuelled by others, it has to arise out of our own inner desires.” (Henell, 2019).
Whereas passion may be a more natural and innate-bias, skill is learned and the level of quality attained is earned. All is good and well doing what you are passionate about for a living. But to add value to your service, you must possess the unique skills and capabilities; creativity, communication, punctuality, presentation, etc. These traits are rare and valuable. Daniel Schawbel, Partner and Research Director at Future Workplace comments, “…if you want to love what you do, first focus on becoming exceptional at a rare and valuable skill…”
You can excel having core skills that will make your work output exceptional, and this alone in itself can stir up a passion to do better. Yet, it may be highly unlikely to simply rely on passion to progress, excel or make impact without the requisite skills. Truth is, passion does not equate skill or talent. The simple fact that we are passionate about something does not mean we can succeed at it.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star on ABC’s hit reality television show, “Shark Tank,” argues that people should focus on their strengths rather than their passions, because we are not always good at the things that interest us the most and because perfecting a strength can become a passion. Passion without the experience to manage can become invalid. Desire is important, and can definitely get the job started, but expertise gets the job done.
American Television host, Mike Rowe, also explains:
“When people follow their passion, they miss out on all kinds of opportunities they didn’t even know existed. Your passion can be the engine that moves you, but not the map. Passion should not tell you where to go. It should just tell you to get up and go. And being passionate about the wrong thing will lead to missed opportunities. When you spend all that time and focus on one goal, you walk right by the countless other roads that pass by. Following your passion can lead some people to success, yes, but following opportunity is more likely to lead you to greater success. There are always opportunities right around the corner. There is always something no one else is willing to do, and there lies opportunity. There lies the first step in finding meaningful work. It is more important to find an opportunity than a passion. It is more important to spend the time becoming independent, mastering a skill, and getting along with others.”
It is key that as individuals who want to grow our careers, entrepreneurs who want to grow ourselves and our businesses and organizational leaders that want to make an impact and leave a legacy of greatness; we must start investing in and developing our ‘soft skills’.
With everything, balance is key. If you have a passion to do something, go for it. The good news is that, you know where to start. Without passion also, you can progress in your position. Both virtues can fully shine through when you utilise each at the right time. At some point in time in my spa and wellness business, I was bankrupt. Because I had a deep passion for what I had started, I was moved to take up a corporate job in the banking and financial business to make enough money to build my business again. What passion did for me was to give me the needed push to make my dreams come true and jump an obstacle that many others would shy away from. A few years after that, I find myself in a totally different space but still with the same passion to help people grow and make a long-lasting impact. Without all the knowledge and skills, I have garnered from all my life experiences, no one would trust me to coach them. When people want to consider you for a position, they do not look at how much passion you have. What is looked at is what you have done or achieved with how much passion and resources you have. Passion is like potential. It is no good until you make something of it.
For every business, work or stage in life, I believe there are fundamentals we all need to pull through. These fundamentals, regardless of the space in which we find ourselves are pertinent to our survival and success in our space of likely impact. These fundamentals are soft skills.
When it comes to Image; we require Appearance, Behaviour and Communication.
When it comes to Life Leadership; we require Clarity Confidence and Communication.
When it comes to High Performance; we require Energy, Courage, Influence and Productivity. In High Performance, what may matter than the job itself is the attitude you bring to it. Neither flaming passion nor simply having all the thinkable great skills is enough. To take up opportunities that will place you at the tables of great men, you require consistent energy and productivity, resilience and unwavering persistence.
There is no need to obsess over comparison. What we must do is focus on our conviction! Let us do what we can, where we are, with what we have and are sure of! It is probably right and ahead of the game!!
Each level, role and path requires an aligned skill. It is time we take action to blend our passion, technical skills and soft skills to create the perfect recipe for Power and Influence!
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and @dzigbordi across all social media platforms.