Friday, January 27, 2012


This thirteen year old girl asked me "what's the difference between talent and passion?" It was during one of those moments when someone looks upon you for some grand answer. It reminded me of what the Tai-Chi Masters feel when their students have so much zeal for achieving harmony that a simple remark can disillusion them. So I threw it back at her "Is there a difference?"

She threw it right back at me "Should there not be?" I smiled knowing we could play that game all day long, so I found myself asking her another question (hopefully the last one). "Why do we ask questions Liz?"

"Because we want answers," she replied.

"Why do we want answers?" I asked. "You ask too many questions teacher Dora; can't you just give a straight answer?" I do not believe in giving people answers. There is so much more room for enlightenment when you let the person investigate and come to answer than simply stating it as it is. I have a good friend who has such passion for football such that he can give you details of various clubs from the time they were formed to the present date. At times it feels as though he knows so much about the game that he has this aura of football around him. He can explain how he feels better using events in a football game than he can with adjectives. He also is the Saint. Yes, we call him so because he goes to all lengths to be there for all of us and never asks for anything in return. He has left his room at 3:00am to visit a friend in hospital whom he just heard was involved in an accident and he stayed there till his friends' parents arrived ten hours later. He would rather walk home at night than see us walk off into the night. So what are his talent and his passion? His passion is seen with football and his talent is his loyalty. He is selfless and would go out of his to help a friend in need. So, would you have him pursue soccer or his altruism? He even raised thirty thousand shillings for a children's home in Malindi within a week by talking to people about the place and their need for new mattresses.

Most people follow their passion and do not focus on their talent. Talent is innate, it is best seen though actions and you cannot put a stop to them. You find yourself feeling more fulfilled doing such activities. With passion it is simply a drive-an energy force that propels you to act. Passion needs fuel, while talent only expects expression. Passion needs explanation and validation while a talent is there and impossible to explain why it is what it is. Passion is shared but talent is unique to each individual. Ten or more people can have a passion for football, but not all are talented in playing the game or marketing aspects of it full time.

So, I get back to the question, yes there is a difference between talent and passion. Talent is innate and for it to be seen or put into action, passion has to drive it. Passion is the force behind the realization of talent exploration. A talent can be alive in a person, but for others to share in that life you have to be passionate about sharing your talent, exploring it, nurturing it and using it to achieve your greatest potential.

How can one change the world if one identifies oneself with everybody?