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“Looking back on your career 20, 30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished?” That’s a question Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, often asks prospective employees.

And how would you answer that question? Take a minute and think about it. In other words, what matters to you as you are building your career?

In answering that question, you would probably include the accomplishments that you have achieved along the way.  You may include skills you’ve developed and lessons you have learned. Would you talk about the talents you possess? You see, everyone has talent. Often, we simply overlook our talents, because this natural set of skills comes so easily to us, and we assume it’s the same for everyone else—but it’s not.

The connection between talent and passion

There is an interesting aspect about the talents we possess. In many instances our talents are a direct manifestation of our passions: the things we feel most strongly about. Our passions are wrapped up in what brings us joy and utilizes our talents. In other words, there is a connection between talent and passion. Understanding the talent and passion you bring to the table is extremely useful when building a career and developing your unique leadership style.

Think back to your childhood. As a kid if you liked something, you just did it. On the playground, if you liked swinging on the swings, you spent time on the swings. If you liked looking at bugs, you were on your hands and knees in the dirt looking for bugs. And if you didn’t like those activities, you would be spending your time doing activities you enjoyed. Maybe you were good at playing chess, or drawing cartoons; that’s where you would spend your time.

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When we became adults, we left many of these activities behind: no more swinging on the swing sets or organizing games on the playground. However, if we delve into the skills we developed on the playground, we may find they can be useful in our adult pursuits. On the playground we may have enjoyed organizing people, creating new games, or seeking the thrill of adventure. Fast forward to an adult career setting and notice these skills can be transferred to providing HR services, developing innovative product designs, and taking risks.

As people choose their career paths, there’s an expectation that success is measured in dollars. Obviously, it is important to choose a career where you can earn enough money to provide a comfortable living. Yet, how many people incorporate their passion into a career path as a means of earning a living? An alternative would be to earn money at a job and then use some of the proceeds to fund your passion.

Identifying your passion

Need help connecting your life, talents, and passion? Try this exercise. Think about how you spend the other eight hours of the day—you know, the hours between the eight hours of work and the eight hours of sleep? How do you like to spend that time? Is this when you do your hobbies, hang out with family and friends, or read? Over the next week, list the activities you pursue in those hours, and you may notice a pattern. How do your current activities compare with your interests as a child? These patterns will provide you with insights into where your passion may lie or how it may be reignited.

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