Passion, Skill or Talent?

KT5: Towards Mastery and Results

Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

In my encounters with the multitudes seeking their various journeys in life, I came to a realization that many are struggling to understand the difference between passion, skill or talent… Allow me to give you my take.

You may have heard that if you do what you love, the money will follow. However, strictly following your PASSION (i.e. what you love to do) may end up costing you lost wages through job hopping and increase your anxiety. Both of these items, compounded over time, will quash your dreams in a hurry.

Instead, improve your SKILLS (i.e. what you can do well) to become really good at what you do; whether it’s baking, driving, teaching, consulting, researching, or whatever.

Being skilled in one or more areas allows you to leverage those skills to build a career. Cal Newport, a Georgetown University professor says,

Stop trying to figure out what you are passionate about. Instead, the secret to building a career or business you love is to develop rare and valuable skills that you can then leverage on to take control of your livelihood.

Cal Newport

When you’re good, really good at something, you can claim mastery over that something. And once you have mastery, passion is not far behind.

This is because as you get better and better at what you do, your sense of passion grows. When you master something, you own it, because you’ve got the rare and valuable skills needed to do so. It is not the other way around. You cannot be passionate about doing work that you know very little about.

What about loving your work? Some people claim that they hate what they do. Perhaps it’s a lack of skill, but more often than not, it’s a lack of autonomy, competency, creativity, and a sense of impact on the job. If you don’t have that, you will never love your work and you will never develop mastery over your work.

The resulting lack of productivity from not doing the best in your job impacts not only your individual success, but is felt around you.

Getting really good at what you do will set you up to do even greater things in the future. Mastery is the key to passion.

In other words, don’t follow your passion. Instead, hone your skills to become as competent as possible so that passion follows you.

As for TALENT (i.e. innate ability to do something such as drawing, speaking, mathematics, etc.), it can be tapped into to create mastery. Unfortunately, not everyone uses their talents towards their work, career, etc. and they should.


Kaloli Tsekoa
KALOLI TSEKOA is an ‘Ignitor.’ He lives with a simple mantra: ‘Absolute Power Lies in Sharing.’ He’s an astute Speaker, Entrepreneur and a Development Activist. KALOLI TSEKOA is a Civil Engineering Technologist, Programme Manager and Fund Manager, among other with experience in Consulting and DFIs. His flagship programmes include the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, the R9billion Jobs Fund, the R3.2billion Small Business& Innovation Fund, etc. His passion is in transforming people and small businesses for better results.