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  • Writer's pictureIvan Yong Wei Kit

If Passion Was a Friend, Will You Recognise Him


Have you found your passion ? This may be a simple and straight forward question but yet the answer to it had always been elusive to many.This year we would probably have pledged on New Year’s Day not only to chase our passion for the year 2020 but also for the next decade.

A side note:

On New Year’s resolution, I had a serendipitous “a ha” moment on how to keep them when I stumbled on my collections of New Year’s resolutions dating back to 2010. You can read more about the story here;

What I Have Learned from 10 Years of Making New Year’s Resolution

And How to Meet Your Resolution Once and For All

Now, I may have discovered the secret to keeping my New Year’s Resolution but how about passion ?

It had however, remained elusive for most of my adult life and I had also been drawn to the search of my passion for most of my New Year’s day. With almost 17 years of work experiences, successes in 3 vastly different roles, 1 big massive career change; I would have expected myself to be a perspicacious careerist. To my dismay, the question of finding ones passion is still as difficult as it was to me when I first step into the working world.

What is your passion? Follow it, chase it and you will find nirvana at a dull 9 to 5 job or when the going gets tough while you are trying to sell your first startup product. This seems to be an ubiquitous advice amongst motivational speakers and the countless self-help books. I had read quite a lot of them over the years and I am still inclined to read them today. Something in life seems amiss when we can’t put our finger on what our passion is, isn’t it?

Oh, how we envy the Hopkins, the DiCaprio and the Portman who knew where their passion lies and honed their art to drive their passion forward, earning them not only fame and wealth but also a mention in the history books of motion pictures. Remembered and adored for eternity.

Perhaps, I wonder, if we have asked the wrong question. If passion is to be followed or to be chased, then wouldn’t the question to be asked is, “Who is your passion?” and not “what is your passion?”

And if passion is a who, whom you would choose to follow or chase after, wouldn’t passion be your friend?

And if passion was truly our friend or even our best of friend, would we have been able to recognise him? I seek to answer this question myself; would I have been able to recognise him. Over the years, I may have found some of the clues to do just that and they are;

1. If passion was my friend, he may not be the coolest kid in class, but he will always show up.


Do you remember your best friend, Johnny, whom may not be the coolest kid in class but will always have your back? Even as kids, we often committed the ultimate act of betrayal when we consistently seek to hang out with the “cool kids gang” but largely ignored our loyal friends.

Passion, if he was my friend, would be Johnny.

Loyal and had the utmost care for my well-being. When storm of trouble was brewing, he always managed to get me to calm down and wait for the storm to pass.

If there is one thing that you consistently go to even when you are having your hands full, then you have found your Johnny. It could be a cause, an activity or even a thought.

And now, don’t go seeking the other passions that may seem more agreeable with your Instagram followers.

2. If passion was my friend, time will fly.

Whenever I was hanging out with Johnny, time seemed to come to a standstill. All the worries and cares of the world had ceased to exist, emptying my mind and for me to focus on the activity on hand.

For me, it was reading.

Reading was not a chore but an adventure. An adventure which brought me to far flung places which I have yet to be able to go and even smelled the pink roses at the cafe in Paris when I was right in my living room half a world away.

If volunteering seemed to have “while” your time away, it is a good time to look deeper into it. What sort of volunteering seems to be able to do that and who were involved are questions that you must ask.

3. If passion was my friend, I will be comforted.

Johnny seemed to be prescient to the situation that I am in, all the time. And without a Herculean effort, he was able to lend a hand at the right time or just said the right words to allow me to see the silver lining in the clouds.

When my wife was unfortunately hospitalised and it was time to shoo away visitors, I left the hospital, reluctantly, tired, in need of rest.

The first thing I did when I reached home was to read a bit of Korean. I was picking up my 6th language. Somehow by immersing myself in that video, I felt comforted.


4. If passion was my friend, he will always be on my mind.

The lyrics to Willie Nelson’s song, “Always on My Mind” , did not start with, “You are always on my mind,” but “Girl, I am sorry I was blind,” and that my friends, gave us the answer to why we couldn’t see our passion.

The biggest clue yet to your passion is that it will occuppy your mind, ceaselessly.

I remembered when the pharmaceutical drug that we were making was failing the quality test and more than half of the team had begun to look for alternative jobs in the other plants, my Director and I, stayed back long after hours seeking the source to the problem.

And when even the scientist, whom had discovered the drug gave up, after having flew him all the way from the U.S. to Singapore, we soldiered on in the clean room, prodding and documenting, unbroken.

Hold all variable constant and test only one variable all the time. That was the strategy and that was mundane but it was always on my mind.

Finally, when we saw the light at the end of tunnel, we celebrated, the two of us, over a cup of vending machine coffee, talking about nothing else but the drug we “saved”.

With that last point I hope i have been able to shed some light to your quest in finding your passion and I bid you all the best in the year 2020.

I might have caught a glimpse of Johnny somewhere in my work today but it is still work in progress for me too.

Bon chance, mes amis.


This post first appeared in under the Startup Innovation Publication.

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