How to Find Your Passion, Discover Your Strengths, and Rule the World

Our boss cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, but I have some bad news.”

She paused, looking down at the stack of papers she was shuffling in her hands. She looked back up at us. She started to say something and then stopped, looking back down at the papers.

That’s when we knew we had lost our jobs.

Newly married and with bills to pay, I was scared.

“What am I going to do? How am I going to tell my wife?”

Hands shaking, I picked up the phone.

“Hi sweetie!” my wife answered, excited but surprised to hear from me. “Is everything okay?”

“Tell her there’s nothing to worry about,” I said to myself.

“Tell her we’ll be fine. Tell her I’ve got this. Tell her…”

“No,” I finally answered after a long pause.

“But it will be.”

Success Stories are Often Preceded by Tales of Woe

Before he became the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan was a high school sophomore licking his wounds after getting cut from the varsity team.

Before he became a millionaire CEO, Jon Morrow was recovering from a horrible automobile accident and wondering what he was going to do with his life.

And before I became the Editor-in-Chief at Smart Blogger, fulfilling my dream of writing full-time so I could work from home and spend more time with my family, I was just a boy…

…standing in front of a girl…

…asking her for directions to the unemployment office.

Life rarely takes the path we think it will take. All too often, it sends us on detours filled with potholes, road construction, and pedestrians who refuse to use crosswalks.

But here’s the thing:

Some of life's greatest opportunities are in the detours.Click To Tweet

Getting cut from the varsity team made Michael Jordan work harder. Jon’s accident afforded him free time to learn everything there was to know about blogging. My unemployment led me here.

If I hadn’t lost my full-time job, I wouldn’t have leaned on freelance writing to make ends meet.

Knowing random baseball trivia wasn’t a payable skill. Neither was earning an income as a male model, no matter how devilishly handsome my wife says I am.

I turned to writing, a hobby I dabbled in from time to time on the side, out of desperation. And, to my surprise, I discovered — not just my true passion, but — the thing God put me on this earth to do.

Of course, my story isn’t unusual. The paths people take to find their passion and discover their strengths tend to have unique twists and turns.

The good news?

If you’ve yet to find your passion or strengths, knowing the journeys taken by others can help you find your own way.

How 13 Influencers Discovered Their Strengths (+ Lessons Learned to Help You Find Your Passion)

Over the last several years, I’ve reached out to successful people I admire and asked them two simple questions:

How did you discover your strengths? How are you using those strengths to pursue your passion?

Some (I’m looking at you, Weird Al) never got back to me. But many did.

Here’s how they responded (and how you can use their experiences to find your own strengths and passions):

Make Yourself Uncomfortable

I’ve discovered all my strengths by making myself uncomfortable. What I mean by that is that all my life — on a pretty regular basis — I’ve put myself into these situations that made me deeply uncomfortable.

It meant living in a country where I didn’t speak the language; jumping out of a plane (with a parachute!); speaking in front of hundreds of people, and more.

Every time I do something that expands my personal comfort boundaries, I discover some strength I didn’t know I had.

It turns out I am more than capable of learning a new language. And facing my fear by jumping out of a plane was fun! And people enjoy my presentations when I speak.

If I’d never made myself try those things, I wouldn’t have discovered those strengths.

[On using strengths to find your passion]

It’s funny, more than using my strengths to pursue my passions, I think I’ve used that sense of “just go for it!” to pursue my passions.

The “nothing ventured, nothing gained” approach has served me well both in my personal life and in my business life.

That’s why I’m continually pointing people toward taking action. At some point, you have to take everything you’ve learned and step out and apply it.

Go ahead — jump out of that plane. There’s a beautiful view on the way down. 🙂

Pamela Wilson
Founder of Big Brand System
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

No one likes to be uncomfortable.

But, if you force yourself to be uncomfortable from time to time, you’ll find you’re capable of more than you could’ve ever imagined.

Tweetable Takeaway

Every time I do something that expands my personal comfort boundaries, I discover some strength I didn’t know I had.Click To Tweet

Just Do It

I discovered my strengths from the simple yet powerful quote: ‘If you want to be…do.’ – Unknown.

I wanted to be a Podcaster, so I just had to Podcast. As I podcasted my way to the now over 1000+ episodes of EOFire, I uncovered strengths I didn’t even know I possessed, and it all stemmed from DOING.

John Lee Dumas
Host of Entrepreneurs on Fire
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

Want to know a surefire way to never find your passion or discover your strengths?

Do a whole lot of jack and squat.

Tweetable Takeaway

I discovered my strengths from the simple yet powerful quote: ‘If you want to be…do.’Click To Tweet

Know Your Limits

You discover your strengths by trying new things. Eventually you will find out what you are good at and what you aren’t.

It’s almost like experimentation…

[On using strengths to find your passion]

Whatever you are passionate about, you want to use your strengths to move you forward. No one is a jack of all trades, so focus on using your strengths to help you accomplish your goals. As for what you aren’t good at, find other people to help you out in those areas.

Neil Patel
Co-founder of Neil Patel Digital
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

Knowing your strengths is great, but knowing your weaknesses is equally important.

Those things you suck at (whatever they might be)? It’s okay to ask a friend (or find someone on Google or LinkedIn) to handle them.

Tweetable Takeaway

No one is a jack of all trades, so focus on using your strengths to help you accomplish your goals.Click To Tweet

Be Willing to Look Stupid

I discovered most of my strengths as a child. I was always a curious little fellow, trying out different things, making messes, never afraid of looking stupid or making a mistake. To me, it was always part of the fun.

I think that’s the biggest part of discovering what you do best: the willingness to look stupid. If you try 100 different things, you’ll suck at 95 of them, and you have to be willing to put up with the failures until you find the areas where you are genuinely gifted.

Personally, I realized I was a gifted writer really early. I was reading books and writing stories before I even got to kindergarten. For me, it was as natural as breathing. I can’t imagine struggling with it.

I think everyone has something like that. You just have to keep trying new things until you find it.

Jon Morrow
CEO of Smart Blogger
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

A byproduct of discovering the areas where you excel is discovering, through sometimes embarrassing mishaps, the things you’re bad at.

If you can power through the stumbles, you’ll eventually get to enjoy the successes.

Tweetable Takeaway

I think that’s the biggest part of discovering what you do best: the willingness to look stupid.Click To Tweet

Do What You Love

By trial and error. I think we are notoriously bad at knowing what we are good at. I realized my strengths were a combination of what I loved doing, but also what I was good at and what was useful to people.

When I think of strengths, I think of things that give me energy, don’t take it. So I am constantly looking at what I’m doing and asking, “Is this fun? Does it energize me?” If not, how can I turn this into something that is fun and energizing or move on to something else.

We only have so much time on earth, so we might as well spend it doing things that are worth our time. For me, doing what I love (even on days when it’s difficult) is something I have to make room for.

Jeff Goins
Best-selling author of Real Artists Don’t Starve
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

Oftentimes, the quickest way to find your strengths is to ask yourself a simple question:

“What do I enjoy?”

True, there are no guarantees you’ll have a natural talent related to your passion. I’ve met many a baseball fanatic who couldn’t hit their way out of a wet paper sack.

But if you love something, if it energizes you, there’s a reason. And, sometimes, that reason is you’re good at it — even if you’re blissfully unaware of this fact.

Tweetable Takeaway

When I think of strengths, I think of things that give me energy, don’t take it. So I am constantly looking at what I’m doing and asking: Is this fun? Does it energize me?Click To Tweet

Listen and Learn

Often people focus on their weakness and spend most of their time trying to get better. In my case, I do the opposite. I try to focus on my strengths and see how I can get even better.

I have discovered my strengths through variety of means. Sometimes it was just a gentle nudge from someone else telling me that I was good at something. At other times, it was from my quarterly reviews of what went well and what didn’t.

Syed Balkhi
CEO of Awesome Motive
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

If someone pays you a compliment, don’t assume it’s empty flattery. They might see a strength in you that you’ve to discover about yourself.

Tweetable Takeaway

I have discovered my strengths through variety of means. Sometimes it was just a gentle nudge from someone else telling me that I was good at something.Click To Tweet

Try New Things

I discovered my strengths by trying new things, thinking about what I’m passionate about, considering what things I do that really make me feel energized, asking friends for their input, and challenging myself to keep stepping outside my comfort zone.

[On using strengths to find your passion]

Honestly, my strengths and my passions are mostly intertwined. For instance, I love writing. I can’t not write. I always say that if you were to leave me on a desert island with nothing, I’d find a stick and write my thoughts in the dirt. I just can’t help myself.

I also love encouraging and cheerleading other people. So one of the ways I use my writing is to challenge and champion women to be the best versions of themselves that they can be. It’s the perfect mesh of both my strengths and passions.

Crystal Paine
Founder of Money Saving Mom
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

Want to discover your strengths? Want to find your passion? You have to be willing to try new things.

Your comfort zone may be nice and cozy, but if you never branch out, you’re never going to grow.

Tweetable Takeaway

I discovered my strengths by trying new things (and) stepping outside my comfort zone.Click To Tweet

Wear Many Hats

Honestly, it took me a little while to understand what my strengths were.

When I created StudioPress, I was wearing many hats, so I had to run all facets of the business. Through that experience I was able to determine the areas I enjoyed, and areas that I think I was strong in.

Brian Gardner
Founder of StudioPress and Minimologie
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

Finding your strengths can be a numbers game. The more things you take ownership of, the quicker you’ll discover the things you enjoy and — even better — the areas where you excel.

Tweetable Takeaway

When I created StudioPress, I was wearing many hats, so I had to run all facets of the business. Through that experience I was able to determine the areas I enjoyed, and areas that I think I was strong in.Click To Tweet

Remember This Isn’t a Quest

Like anyone, really — I stumbled upon my strengths by sheer accident.

I think discovering strengths isn’t really so much a specific quest we undertake: “Today, I’ve decided to discover whether I’m excellent or terrible at playing billiards.”

I think people find their strength more by undertaking an activity out of fun, interest, curiosity, need or obligation, and then realizing after the fact that, hey, they have a knack for it.

For example, I didn’t realize writing was one of my strengths until I’d written several pieces. I didn’t realize determination was one of my strengths until years of perseverance proved it so. I didn’t realize quick wit was a strength until… you get the picture!

[On how to follow your passion]

It’s more than just using your strengths, really. You can know your strengths, and apply them to your pursuits, but you also need to be aware of your capabilities and interest levels of said strengths.

It’s like this: I’m strong in math skills, but I don’t like math much, and it doesn’t really interest me — so naturally, it makes more sense to delegate number-crunching to my accountant.

That sort of self-awareness is a crucial element of successful entrepreneurship, and that’s why with every project I undertake, I don’t ask whether it falls within my strengths; I ask whether I’m the right person, or whether someone else would be better suited to the task.

James Chartrand
Owner of Men With Pens
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

People rarely find their strengths on purpose. Usually, it’s a happy accident.

Live your life, choose a career path, and reflect on your journey from time to time. Inevitably, you’ll discover you picked up a strength or two along the way.

Tweetable Takeaway

I think people find their strength more by undertaking an activity out of fun, interest, curiosity, need or obligation, and then realizing after the fact that, hey, they have a knack for it.Click To Tweet

Challenge Yourself

From an early age I’ve had a knack for figuring out how things work and using that understanding to build scalable processes. Even with little to no subject matter experience.

It seems obvious to me now, but I only discovered this about myself in my mid-20s.

Although, looking back, I can see the signs – I dismantled my Dad’s VCR when I was 3-4 years old to try and figure out how it worked.

I taught myself to build websites using Dreamweaver when I was 12 and launched an online record label when I was in college.

When did I discover my strength exactly?

In 2012, I landed a job at a marketing agency based on my experience of building niche websites.

For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, I was put in charge of developing processes & systems for a new service offering.

I was the guinea pig. The canary in the coal mine.

I had to figure out whether the service could provide an ROI for the client, whether it was profitable, how our team would implement it, and the tech stack that would power it.

Feeling like I was in over my head? That would be an understatement.

But I persevered and got the job done. So well, that I became the go-to person for solving marketing-related challenges.

And eventually it hit me. Jason, my boss, figured out what my strength was back when he first interviewed me.

Here’s the thing:

Progress isn’t easy and personal development doesn’t magically happen. The pressure was real and there were moments when I did feel like pulling my hair out when dealing with nightmare clients.

Sure, there were moments where I felt like throwing in the towel but I pushed through and I’m glad I did. After all, we don’t know what we’re capable of until we’re challenged.

Adam Connell
Founder of Blogging Wizard
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

One of the best ways to discover what you’re made of is to apply a little pressure.

Will you sink?

Or will you discover a strength you never knew was inside of you?

Tweetable Takeaway

We don’t know what we’re capable of until we’re challenged.Click To Tweet

Face the Roadblocks Head On

Discovering my strengths comes in two steps:

1) Knowing what goal I want to achieve;
2) Then accepting every roadblock as a personal challenge & opportunity to gain experience.

No true growth comes without opposition.

Sadly, humans desperately try to avoid what’s uncomfortable.

But what would you do if you knew you could not fail?

That’s where my own perspective differs from most:

What others call ‘failure’, I call “success in motion.”

[On using strengths to find your passion]

I find it a little ironic (and also humorous) that every skill developed during my hardest challenges in life became critical to achieving my successes today.

Being forced to learn podcasting & editing skills to create Wanted Hero shows for readers allowed me to earn $12K a day for a corporation disgruntled with their current media company.

Having to learn various web skills to build my Wanted Hero sites helped me secure dozens of jobs, including a high-paying annual contract requiring only 90 minutes of my time per month.

The best result of all?

Welcoming opposition in my life has provided the skill set to write, publish and promote my fantasy creations to the world.

Jaime Buckley
Author, father of 13, and creator of Wanted Hero World
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

Not every roadblock should be avoided. Some offer valuable life experiences that’ll help you grow, figure things out, and, yes, discover your strengths.

Also:

When you hustle, when you put in the hard work, new job opportunities have a way of presenting themselves to you.

Tweetable Takeaway

No true growth comes without opposition. Sadly, humans desperately try to avoid what’s uncomfortable. But what would you do if you knew you could not fail?Click To Tweet

Take Advantage of Opportunities

Luck played a big role in finding out my strengths, and I learned that my strengths were quite different from what I’d always thought about myself.

I used to think I wasn’t creative, and I definitely didn’t have a talent for writing, but years ago I was working in corporate marketing and good content became key to my job. No one else wanted to write blog posts, so somehow I ended up writing our company blog. Surprisingly, I enjoyed it.

After taking Jon Morrow’s guest blogging course in 2011, I got published on Copyblogger and KISSmetrics and I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t so bad at writing. I became braver at trying out new things, and learned I had a knack for teaching and coaching. Who would have thought that I’d create a business to teach people how to write better!

Henneke Duistermaat
Founder of Enchanting Marketing
Twitter

The Lesson

When job opportunities present themselves, take them. You never know when life is putting you on a path of self-discovery.

Tweetable Takeaway

Luck played a big role in finding out my strengths, and I learned that my strengths were quite different from what I’d always thought about myself.Click To Tweet

Keep it Simple (Just Take a Test)

I rely on the Strengths Finder test to find my strengths.

We recently had everyone in the company take the test and then placed them on a grid so we understood everyone’s core strengths. It was very insightful.

Michael A. Stelzner
Founder of Social Media Examiner
Twitter Facebook

The Lesson

Short on time or like to keep things simple?

StrengthsFinder 2.0 from Gallup is a strengths test that’ll help your discover your unique talents and greatest strengths.

Or, if you’re a reader, check out Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton’s Now, Discover Your Strengths (affiliate link).

Tweetable Takeaway

I rely on the Strengths Finder test to find my strengths.Click To Tweet

Ready to Find Your Strengths and Pursue Your Passion?

We all have strengths.

That’s why it’s disheartening to see so many who are struggling.

It’s often not for lack of talent. And it’s (usually) not for lack of desire. It’s because they aren’t leveraging their strengths to their full potential.

Or, worse: they’ve yet to discover them.

But how do you find your strengths? And how can you cultivate them so you can pursue your passions?

After all, that’s the dream, right?

  • A career change…
  • Quitting your day job and landing your dream job…
  • Getting the right job offer from the right company that’ll allow you to strike the perfect work-life balance
  • Doing what you’re passionate about…

It can happen. All of it.

You just need to look for opportunities in the detours. Try new things. Challenge yourself. Change your life. Be willing to make mistakes.

The insights shared above are meant to inspire you and help you discover your own path.

So go find your strengths. Use them to pursue your passions.

Rule the freakin’ world.

Are you ready?

Then let’s do this thing.

15 thoughts on “How to Find Your Passion, Discover Your Strengths, and Rule the World”

  1. Charanjeet kour

    very inspiring thoughts n experiences just provoking my inner self to rise my confident level…Sparkling tips to create urself👌👏🏻💐♥️wonderful effort to encourage oneself..

  2. Chetan Belgur

    “I’ve discovered all my strengths by making myself uncomfortable.”

    I can’t agree more with Pamela Wilson.
    I have been putting myself into situations that were beyond my comfort zone for the last 3-5 years and have learned a great deal about myself.

    Case in point:
    Meditation has been a practice of 20 years but never occurred to me as my superpower.
    It revealed itself when I was in the most uncomfortable position in my career in 2016.
    Since then, my life took a different turn and I have seen much success with meditation as a key differentiator in my skillset.

    In 2020, I have set up myself for an uphill task that’s pushing me even further into my uncomfortable zone.
    It’s about quitting my corporate job and starting my freelance writing career and earning equal or more than my corporate job.

    Jon’s version is: “Be willing to look stupid”
    Said otherwise, David Mamet in his masterclass teaching dramatic writing, says, “Be willing to humiliate yourself”

    Again, can’t agree more with the wisdom shared in this post.

    Great job Kevin.
    It’s a great post to start the new year.

  3. Thanks so much for including me, Kevin.

    Love seeing different perspectives, especially from those who blaze paths through life.

    Sharing this with my circles, and I’ll be back to comment more once my work load has been tackled properly!

    Cheers!

  4. You knocked the proverbial ball out-of-the-park again with this one, Jon! We’ve come to expect only the best writing from you. And you always deliver. It’s exciting to be your student. Watching my writing idol win every game he enters shivers my timbers in the best way possible. May 2020 be your best season ever.

  5. Hi Jon, I relate to much in your headline from personal experience.

    My preceded by tales of woe-success story includes, back in 2011, losing everything money can buy, including everything I had bought before. For that reason, I’d include family and friends to the list of essentials for a rebound and bloom when you’re down on the ground.

    On top of what it takes, a thumbs-up to “Be willing to look stupid”!

    That it would be on top of my list, my daily bread so to speak, is in large part due to the topic I ended up with, which is words.

    Just as the worlds described by words are taken for granted because there’s no time to think thoughts not thought before, there’s a world of words many unwittingly ignore rather than think about. Yet when asked, “What is your work about?” I respond with “Words”, I do so only when asked, and only because I’m willing to look stupid for answering the question honestly. And also because the majority is not what I’m after, or else would have abandoned ship long ago for in the majority of cases looking stupid happens in a heartbeat or the blink of an eye, whichever comes first.

    In other words, not sure if “Willing to look stupid” is a good and necessary ingredient in every case. Case in point, you guys at Smart Blogger may have the willingness, but you never look stupid – not to me you don’t. On the contrary, Smart Blogger is the place for sharp insights and valuable information. Thanks for that, with best wishes for 2020.

  6. Hey, Kevin. Happy New Year! Awesome compilation over here- gathering in-depth views from 13 top influencers ain’t no easy task- Heavy salute!

    I highly resonate with Jeff and Jon

    “Be willing to look stupid”

    Trust me, I’ll rarely suppress something I don’t know how to do or haven’t grasped well especially if it’s new. I’ll ask, ask and ask about it point blank no matter how stupid I’ll look- I’d rather learn how to do it like a pro than hurt in silence (Ouch!). Sticking to my new mantra in 2020 ” There’s a first time for everything”

    “Doing what you love”

    From doing what I love I also discovered that I have knack for writing (Even though I struggle with it often times) You know how powerful ones brains can be sometimes ( all those endless inner battles, arghhh!).

    Some good news- I’ve been pleading to my angels to get me a magic wand in 2020 haha. They have, and I’m now working on some secret portions (I won’t mind sharing some with you) that will aid me to command myself real quick and WRITE- something I enjoy of course.

    planning to try out photography in 2020 and see how it goes.

    One quick question Kevin:

    From your words “If you’ve yet to find your strengths”

    Kevin, is there a breaking point between strengths and weaknesses and if there is, how would you know that you’re drawing towards that point and the measures you can take to act real fast?

    Off to play around with this tweet on Twitter “I discovered my strengths from the simple yet powerful quote: ‘If you want to be…do.”

    Best,
    Antony

  7. Hi Kevin,

    My biggest takeaway is there are no guarantees that you’ll have a natural talent related to your passion. Sometimes you can be passionate in something you have no natural talent in. Discerning the difference is such a life-changer.

    Big up for the timeless wisdom.

    Regards,
    Edwin

  8. Motivating read!

    My biggest takeways were ‘just do it’, ‘face the roadblocks head on’, ‘listen and learn’, ‘make yourself uncomfortable’ and ‘be willing to look stupid’.

    It’s very easy to sit on one’s goals, continually ruminating and planning. I’m particular guilty of this, so reading ‘just do it’ feels like a kick in the backside. Sure, some mental preparation is essential, but nothing beats actually trying things out. And when challenges inevitably crop up, it’s a useful mindset to have, seeing them, not as roadblocks you can’t hurdle past, but as opportunities to gain experience and further improve oneself (to paraphrase Jaime Buckley).

  9. Very good post.

    Thank you for the inspiration and confirmation.

    I say to my students:

    “You cannot find your passion sitting on the couch. You must go out. Try new things.”

    That is how I did it.

    I wanted to be a blogger. So I started to blog.

    Now I earn 10K with my blog every month and I owe much of it Jon Morrow. THX Jon !

    God bless,

    Walter

  10. Peter Johnson

    “Keep it Simple (Just Take a Test)”

    That’s a great shortcut, but Strengths Finder is not the only example of a great strengths assessment. From HIGH5 test to VIA, there are plenty of more convincing alternatives – especially if you would like to assess strengths of the team or the organization.

  11. Thanks for sharing amazing priceless information provided by you.
    It’s very easy to sit on one’s goals, continually ruminating and planning. I’m particular guilty of this, so reading ‘just do it’ feels like a kick in the backside.

  12. I thought Jon Morrow was born with Muscular Dystrophy…I didn’t know he’d had a dreadful accident causing his physical disability.

    He’s a genius in any case…love reading his blogs.

    Thanks Jon.

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