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Passion or Power Play

Let’s face it. We’re not all going to be the next Keynote Speaker of some major world event or even the most trending Influencer within our circles. For some, it could be a perfectly legitimate aspiration, and for others, it simply might not align with our interests or even our skill set. Are these skills anyone can learn? Definitely. The question is to unravel the reason for wanting to pick up these skills. We are handed a finite set of years to live out of our lives and it would behove us to make those years count.

Thus we introduce the Japanese concept of ikigai which depicts a perfect harmony between our passion, profession, vocation and mission, leading to what is seen as purpose and satisfaction in life. The ikigai is the intersection of these four areas, balancing out what we love, what we are good at, what we are paid for, and what the world needs. Most of the time, we struggle to straddle these four areas successfully at all times in our lives but it is something, I would gather, that we at least seek to do.

Victor Cheng, an ex-McKinsey consultant I follow has written articles also trying to explore the balance between satisfaction and (financial) success in life. He presents the idea of using stock market portfolio theory to perform this exercise. He suggests that if following one's passion 100% may lead to high financial risk but high emotional reward, and on the converse, pursuing financial success 100% leads to low risk but low emotional reward, then the best way this can be looked at is to have a mix or portfolio of pursuits that may offer a more appropriate risk/return profile. Thus, one may not need to give up their passion completely to be able to have a financially stable lifestyle, but, alternatively, may balance the two 15%: 85%, 20%:80% or any other suitable combination to the individual.

Granted, it may not always look easy enough to have a choice in this matter. For many of us, our lives are mapped out from childhood. Get those A's in high school and college and position myself for that stellar internship; prove my value and get employed in that top-dollar institution where I can begin to make other power moves for my future such as getting a mortgage on my home and living that lifestyle that helps me to keep up with the Kardashians. Is there a place for following my passion in this equation? I'm sure that most right-brainers and left-brainers would have different answers to this question. My personal response on the matter is that it is always important to make room for what may be lacking in our experience, be it an opportunity for more financial security, or an opportunity for deeper fulfillment in our lives.

The personal business model canvas has nine building blocks, including what Value we offer to the world, what we do (Key Activities) and what we have (Key Resources). This template is a perfect way to start out mapping where we might, ideally, want to be at any stage of life. Indeed, one can expect that our ikigai or lifestyle portfolio mix may change at different stages in our lives: this template, thus, helps us to perform several iterations of our personal business models at any stage. So where do you fall, in the passion/power play mix?

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