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Follow Your Inclinations, Not Your Passions

I’m about a quarter through the book Mastery. Early on, it advises that in order to find your unique path that you should return to your childhood inclinations, and pay attention to those that call the loudest. I happen to have finally answered the call to write that I’ve had since I desperately wanted to learn to read at about four years old. Mom told me I would have to wait until I went to kindergarten. That didn’t stop me from teaching myself how to write simple words, and lovingly engrave “Mom” into our dining room table. She was not impressed.   

When I finally made it to school and was introduced to the fundamentals of reading, an entire new world opened up. I immediately flew through every Nancy Drew mystery, then moved on to The Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley High; and who can forget the classics Charlotte’s Web, A Wrinkle in Time, The Giving Tree.    

So how is it that I ended up with degrees in Finance and a career in tech investing? Turns out, I followed inclinations there as well. I started counting the bills in my dad’s wallet about the same time I begged for someone to teach me to read. I balanced checkbooks, saved any money I received, tallied the grocery bill in my head, and so on. When choosing a major, I actually went back to those inclinations to decide which path to take.   

In my second novel, I’m introducing a technology that’s been haunting my mind for over a decade. It started with a short story, born from an exercise at MLove while at a castle in Germany – that they ended up publishing the next year. The idea evolved in another short story that I submitted for an XPrize. I didn’t win. But, I did have a weird experience where I wrote about a character who looked like a Japanese Chuck Norris, then at a sushi dinner in Dallas that night, sitting at the table next to us was the real Chuck Norris (bonkers, eh?). This is how I know I’m on the right track with the book I’m writing. The idea just won’t leave me alone. Also, how can you say no to this guy??

People talk a lot about following your passions. Let’s consult Cambridge again. Passion is “a very powerful feeling, for example of sexual attraction, love, hate, anger,or other emotion.” Inclination is also a feeling, however, the difference lies in it being a preference, not an emotion. Maybe we need to quit telling people to follow their passion and instead to follow their inclination.    

So if you’re feeling lost or uncertain about the path you’re on, consult your childhood self. What’s that kiddo really into? Might you see how it could connect to what you’re currently doing? 

 

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