Why do you do what you do?

What is your drive, your fascination, your passion?

Step 1:

  • Is the basis of your strategy;
  • Provides direction for your career, your work and your clients;
  • Forms a basis for finding like-minded people;
  • Forces you to think about what you are doing;
  • Provides direction and balance – both professionally and privately;
  • Helps you make decisions.

You start by defining your dream or your long-term objective for both your private life and your professional career. The private and professional areas of life often overlap – certainly in creative professions – which is why it is essential to find the right balance if you are to achieve your dream. It therefore helps to record your dream/objective and to assess each year whether you are heading in the right direction. Also, once you have described it, you can share it with the people around you – both at home and at work. The greater the number of people who know your goal, the more chance there is that people will contribute to it.

How do you identify your dream?

A dream is an ideal, which can often seem vague and unachievable. Chopping it into smaller objectives and phases makes it manageable and achievable. You put your dream into words in Step 1 and set a timeframe in Step 6.

Think about where you want to be in one, five and ten years’ time. What, ideally, will your life look like? What will you be doing every day? What will you have achieved?

For example: in five years’ time I want to be a well-known artist in the Netherlands who is on the road to achieving greater recognition internationally. I want to make four major pieces each year from which I can live. Or: in ten years’ time I want to be world-famous and one of the most talked-about artists in my area of work, so much so that my creations are included in the MoMA collection. To have my work shown at MoMA, I need to find a top gallery next year (Step 3) and be shown in leading magazines (Step 4).

Drive, passion, fascination

For many creative entrepreneurs, passion and fascination are the underlying motives (drive) behind the enterprise. It is essential to be able to put this drive into words and communicate it to other people. This ensures that you gather people around you who want to work with you because of your passion. In the creative professions, people are often employed based on their passion – to inspire an organisation, for example, or because people can tell a story relating to the product they buy from you.

Being able to communicate your passion also ensures that you continue to enjoy your work. The closer you stay to your passion, the more you can excel and the better you will feel. It also leads to dialogue with like-minded people.

Luis Mendo (illustrator) on passion: ‘I am passionate about what I do. I really enjoy it, and I think it is important. I also believe that, in my way, I am contributing to society. This is reflected in my work – clients see it and think, ‘He really cares about what he is doing.’ Apparently, people like that.

How do you discover your passion and fascination?

  • One way of discovering what fascinates you is to go back to your childhood. What did you spend your time doing as a child? What has been the recurring theme in your life since then?
  • You can also think about what you collected, or the hobbies you had.
  • Another way of finding out what fascinates you is to go back to a time in your life when everything was as you wanted. What were the circumstances then – who were the people around you? What were you doing?
  • There is a method related to this – Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, which starts with the question ‘why’.

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

“I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going, was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love and that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is gonna fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. And don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

Golden Circle

A good method often used to determine drive is Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle®. This works as follows:

By working out and describing why you do or make something, you can find like-minded people (believers) who are motivated by the same things. People with the same motives are more likely to buy something from you and more likely to help you. The Golden Circle is explained clearly and effectively in this presentation:

For many creative people, the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ (Step 2) are usually not far removed from one another. Their work is often the result of an autonomous process and their own fascination. As a creative person, you then need to decide who matches your fascination and the things that you make. This is very different from the normal marketing vision, in which you are expected to match your supply to the needs and wishes of the market. Here, therefore, this comes in Step 3. After Step 3, you may decide that you need to fine-tune your supply.

If you work based on your fascination, this is more likely to be recognised by the market as authentic. This applies to many emerging brands, for example those described in the book Indie Brands. A product is made based on a certain passion, then seems to find its own way to the market. This way of thinking is more in tune with the spirit of the times and offers opportunities for entrepreneurs who create based on their passion.


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