Everyone has a passion

I recently had the honor and pleasure of giving a speech to high school graduates of the 2018 class. But what else can you give millennials, young people who are currently holding the highest German school leaving certificate and are now starting their way into a training and job market that has already opened the doors wide for qualified young people?

Find your passion! - The magic recipe for happiness and success

"You have so many options! Unbelievable! You can become anything, you can - no: you. You can be." have to Realize yourself, find your passion - hardly a generation before you had so many options! Find it and it beckons happiness, contentment and success. "
That's what you want to call out to young people. And then:
"Your next step is of decisive importance! Which study or training subject? Which school or college in which location? Which employer? Think carefully!"

Who would be surprised to suddenly see a restless flicker in the eyes of one or the other? "What if I choose one thing and then find out that it wasn't my passion, that I set the course wrong?"

Steve Jobs' advice

Even Steve Jobs once said in a speech he gave to Stanford graduates in 2005 that after six months at university he didn't know the value of all of this. He had no idea what he wanted to do with his life and no idea how studying could help him find out. And then he gave the young people the following:

You have to find what you love. ... you will spend a large part of your life in your job. The only way to true satisfaction is to do something great in your eyes. And the only way you can do that is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Do not be satisfied easily. As with all matters of the heart, you will feel when you have found it. And like any great relationship, it just keeps getting better year after year. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle for too easily ("Don't settle").

Steve Jobs

"Find" does not work

There is a lot of truth in the words of the Apple founder, but also a fundamental mistake. It is hidden behind the word "Find". You will probably not find your passion like something lying on the street or in the tall grass, a magical something that turns everything for the better. "Keep looking" and "Don't be satisfied" calls out Jobs to the graduates. But what can happen if we focus on the fact that we only have to find the one, only true, perfect topic, that we are not satisfied before we have found it?
We risk that we ignore the experiences and insights, the enrichments and experiences that we encounter on our search - because we are so focused on the goal. And worse, we risk disappointment and frustration if we believe "it"to have finally found it - only to discover that it wasn't after all.

"Develop" instead of "Find" - growth mindset

Researchers from Standford and Yale have found that those who stay open and curious are happier and more dynamic. These people understood that interests and passions develop from a small spark, that living, working and learning is a journey. In English it is called “Growth Mind-set” - in German, a little more bulky, “Growth-oriented mindset”. Instead of "Find something you love" it should better read "Develop your passions."

Instead of waiting for the only true topic in life ("fixed mindset"), it is better to look into different topics, try out, learn from them, accept things or leave them behind, in short: to develop yourself further!
That doesn't mean to throw the commitment overboard and move on immediately if you don't feel like it. It means questioning your gut feeling every now and then and having the courage to leave things behind that are not good for you. A failure can also become an enrichment - even if you may not recognize it as long as you are in the middle of it.


When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, he was 30 years old. He had to leave his life's work behind and could easily have lost his drive. But he doesn't. He founded Pixar and later said the post-quit period was the most creative of his entire career. Stay open, see opportunities, try things out.

Develop passions

Developing the passion - how should that work, in concrete terms? There is a little exercise in the box on the right. It's about observing yourself, in the evening or on the weekend for 5 or 10 minutes. Just sit down, relax.

The best way to do this is to take notes and keep a diary. After a while, patterns become recognizable: things that come easy to you again and again: talents, preferences, something that makes sense to you, talents with which you can get ahead yourself and also help others. Suddenly you notice: I've always been sensitive and empathetic - I can now enrich my team with emotional intelligence.

Little development worker

  • In the evening or on the weekend: Find a quiet spot for 5-10 minutes.
  • Ask your gut feeling:
    What did I do particularly well today / this week? How did I do that? How did that feel? What made me happy and what gave me the flow?
  • Take notes, keep a journal.
  • Discover patterns, connect the dots
  • How does this help you with your next step?
Download print template

Or: I'm always impatient - but sometimes that's a good thing to get things going. Whether you like to talk, like to approach people, or prefer to think and gather facts or useful knowledge, whether you like to solve problems or take responsibility - do more of it, develop and strengthen these gifts. Then you can experience how something new is created in the process, and maybe even how it becomes a passion.

Where Steve Jobs was right

I gave this development aid to the high school graduates and realized that, at the core of his speech, Steve Jobs was doing exactly what the researchers call ideal: he remained curious and hungry, developed his talents and his passion step by step and became successful as a result.
What drove him? "I looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, 'If today were the last day of my life, would I like to do what I plan to do today?' And whenever the answer was 'No' for days in a row, I knew I had to change something. "

tl; dr
"Find your passion" is currently the recipe for a successful and fulfilling life. But you don't just find passion on the street. And sometimes the search for the only true topic is unsuccessful. Researchers from Stanford and Yale call this a "fixed mindset". They recommend developing the passion instead. With a "growth mindset" you can develop interests and passions from a small spark. You understand that living, working and learning is a journey. Daily reflection can help us perceive these sparks and follow the better recipe:
"Develop Your passion "

What of what you did today inspired you?
What would you love to do more of?