“How do I find my passion?”
“What can I get excited about?”
People usually ask these questions where they’re starting something new.
And normally these are valid questions – but I don’t believe that they apply to everyone.
In particular, I don’t believe that questions about passion apply to those of us who are systems thinkers, builder-, mechanic- or INTJ-types.
The Problem With Passion for INTJs and Systems Thinkers
Passion is usually a good starting point for most people but what happens if your passion is building things, rather than any one specific thing?1The use of building (vs creating) is intentional here.
You start by realising that there is nothing wrong with you.
People assume that everyone has that one thing that they love to do, be it fitness, cooking, kitesurfing or otherwise.
But systems thinkers and builder-types love to break down and rebuild almost everything.
I have seen this again and again both in myself and in others who are INTJ types. We have a passion for the process, not for any specific thing.
A Mechanic’s Solution to the Passion Problem
The solution to this is to realise that for systems thinkers, passion comes from building things and seeing them work.
It comes from learning things and from breaking down existing systems.
It comes from figuring out how things work and teaching others.
And it comes from rebuilding these things to be better.
So how do we get from everyone telling us we need to find our passion to that point?
Defining Passion for Systems Builders
The first thing we need to do is redefine passion.
I like Scott Adams’ take: passion is overrated.
I also like the Stoic definition: passion is an emotion.
And emotions are overrated.
In Stoicism, passion is defined as emotions based on a false sense of reality. Things that aren’t real, but that people get excited or upset over.
Modern day culture (and marketing) is set up to create passion and intense emotions around things that aren’t real.
So rather than worry about passion, just be good and virtuous and do the right thing.
There is zero need for builder-types to have passion when starting something.
Starting Without Passion: Use Momentum Instead
If we recognise that we won’t have (or need) passion when starting on something new, then what do we have instead?
We have momentum, which is a virtue.
In the beginning you will run on faith and discipline. On your virtues.
And once you start building, and positive feedback starts coming your way, you have momentum.
You can safely ignore the people who think that you need passion to do well – you don’t.
That approach may be right for them, but it probably isn’t right for you.
What you need to focus on, is being good and doing right.
And you just need to start.
Others may be able to hone in right away on a particular role, industry or opportunity that they are “passionate” about, but you cannot.
You will have to stumble a bit and may have to try a few things. But once things get going, you will pull far ahead very quickly.
Working out What’s Right for You
You don’t need to use passion to work out what kind of business, role, or project is right for you.
You can do any of them.
Just push through until you have momentum.
And balance the need for external validation of what you are doing, while also trusting in your own internal judgement.
Systems thinkers and builders are quite reflective and have good judgement, so it’s likely that you have intuitively chosen the right thing to begin with.
Trust in this and just start.
What To Do Next
Passion is overrated.
And for systems thinkers and INTJ-types, it doesn’t come from any one thing – it comes from doing things.
So get out there and just do it.
- The use of building (vs creating) is intentional here.
Photo by Joshua Coleman.