How To Find Your Cause
Everyone’s always telling you to follow your passion – but what if you’re not sure what that is?
Passion isn’t something you apply for, and it’s not something you can buy.
Passion is important: it fuels you when you’re exhausted, and guides your decision making when things are murky.
Some people are passionate about themselves, and that’s ok. At least they’re honest. This post is probably not for them.
But some people are passionate about ideas and problems. These are the things that we want to see change in the world, the things we feel are long overdue.
It might be a passion for equality – in marriage, asylum seeking, education, representation, and an end to discrimination.
It might be a passion for the environment – renewable energy, recycling, protecting rainforests, or caring for animals.
It might be that you’ve seen something you feel is incredibly wrong or unfair, and you want to do your bit to change it – changing the law, ending exploitation, helping people who are marginalised, or eradicating diseases that can be easily prevented.
These aren’t things that you chose, they’re things that probably exist inside you right now.
Here’s how you find your passion: What makes you angry?
What makes your stomach drop when you think about it?
What topic do your friends know not to bring up over dinner?
What do you feel is an injustice?
What can’t you stop thinking about, even when you try?
Anger is underrated
Constructive anger can fuel positive change, and it can be very compelling to hear someone speak about an issue that makes them angry.
Here’s another starting point – complete this sentence:
“I can’t believe it’s 2017 and we still………………………………...”
If you feel a problem is obviously overdue, then you are probably the right person to do something about it.
There’s a difference between why and how.
Your cause should exist up in the why, you then pick the right how to get the job done.
Your cause probably won’t be “To start a store that sells ethically made t-shirts”.
Instead, your cause might be “To stop the use of sweatshops” or “To support ethical designers and manufacturers”
If a T-shirt shop is a viable way of furthering your cause, great!
If it isn’t viable, that’s ok too.
There are lots of different business models you can build that will fulfil your mission. There’s no point in getting hung up on just one option.
Similarly, there might be a few business models that are technically successful, but don’t contribute to your cause. They might make some money, but will probably be unfulfilling in the long run.
Passion meets Craft
Your passion needs to be mixed with something useful, something that helps people.
Think about crafts like teaching, nutrition, construction, design, accounting, dance, baking, music, ministry, nursing, or even sport.
These can be used to further your cause.
You can change people's minds through teaching, music or comedy.
You can help a charity through great graphic design, or clever accounting.
You can change lives by helping them live better, and keeping them healthy.
Think creatively - how can you funnel your personal and professional talents towards your cause?
Your job is to find more people like you.
There are people out there who are much smarter than us, who have already thought a lot about your cause, have made mistakes you can learn from, and can help you build something fantastic.
Read their stuff. Have coffee with them. Ask lots of questions.
Cool things happen when passionate, driven people are in the same space.
Your next job is to start a snowball.
Nothing major, just start doing something tiny – something you can do this week.
It might financial, it might be skilled volunteering, it might be spreading a message (but facebook doesn’t count).
Don’t plan a campaign, focus on doing something tangible that builds momentum.
Momentum removes risk. It starts slowly, proving to yourself that you can take bigger and bigger steps. When you’re on a roll, larger projects start looking do-able, and you become a magnet for others who share your passion.
What if there are no people like me?
Learn from other social entrepreneurs who have advanced their cause.
Not because you share their passion, but because they demonstrate how to turn passion into action.
You’re going to spend a lot of your time explaining your cause to people.
It’s worth crafting a short, 10-20 second summary of what you’re angry about, why it matters, and how you plan on creating change.
By observing season storytellers, you can learn how to cut to the chase, answer the follow up questions, and change people’s minds.
What if I still don’t know?
Keep an eye out for what gets your heart racing over the next few weeks.
Tong Yee from School of Thought put it best:
“Every time you bitch, you identify a market need”
When you hear yourself complaining about the world, keep asking yourself why you care, and what you could do to fix it.