“Someone once told me the definition of Hell: The last day you have on earth the person you became meets the person you could have become.”


We all hear about Passion, Desire, Determination, Talent, Skill, and Value. There must be hundreds (if not thousands) of articles online about them. How are they similar and how are they different? Is one more important than another? Which one has the most say in achieving potential?

The real problem seems to be that people don’t understand how they all connect and what a person has to do to gauge their level of each.

Are they even measurable? Assuming they are, if we all knew where we were on the scale of each would we have a better idea at our potential for success?

Let’s try to iron this out.

Passion + Desire + Determination

Photo by Jackson Hendry on Unsplash

The dictionary defines passion as:

A strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.

Passion is raw emotion.

The great Gary Vaynerchuk (who I always talk about) talks about how important passion is. I don’t particularly agree with him on this topic. Passion is misleading. For every successful passionate person there’s countless failures. It’s actually more about desire. There’s a difference.

Popular Huffington Post columnist Brianna Wiest agrees with me.

In “Pursue Your Desire, Not Your Passion. (There’s a Difference)” she writes:

Desire is rooted in strength and clarity; passion is rooted in a lack of control and overwhelming emotion. Desire is open-ended. It’s a general. It’s attached to the “what,” not the “how.” Passion is a raging, aimless firestorm that leaves little margin for possibility, which is why so many people, and relationships, and businesses, burn quickly and then out.

Desire is clarity. Passion is blinding.

Desire is a sustained pull. Passion is a fleeting push.

Desire is the kindling of a fire. Passion is the spark that lights the match.

Passion should be used as a tool to find your talent which will then reveal your skill. Passion drives the boat. It’s the gasoline which manifests determination. But the problem is that often times it can drive the boat right off the edge of a cliff.

Desire is the wheel that steers passion.

While it’s great to have passion and desire for something, the reality is the world doesn’t care. There’s more ingredients needed.

The world won’t care until you go out and make that something a reality and then on top of that be good at it.

In a second column “You’re Not Meant To Do What You Love. You’re Meant To Do What You’re Good At” Wiest goes on to say:

People usually can’t differentiate what they really love and what they love the idea of.

Your gifts are not random, they are a blueprint for your destiny.

I’ve got news for you. You will not discover what you have skills and talents for until you try lots of different things. Despite popular belief your desire must be exponential. It must be open to the idea of trying something new in any given moment. Be a creative maverick.

Passion and desire must be open books. The universe is creative by nature. In order to tune into it’s inner workings one must feel the emotion of passion and see through desire’s lens. Once they are in alignment one can move on to talent and skill. Passion is the harder variable because you can’t measure it.

Author Scott Adams writes in his book “How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big”:

Passionate people are more likely to take big risks in the pursuit of unlikely goals, and so you would expect to see more failures and more huge successes among the passionate.

Passionate people who fail don’t get the chance to offer their advice to the rest of us. But successful passionate people are writing books and answering interview questions about their secrets for success every day. Naturally those successful people want you to believe that their success is a product of their awesomeness, but they also want to retain some humility.

You can’t be humble and say “I succeeded because I am far smarter than the average person. But you can say your passion was a key to your success, because everyone can be passionate about something or other.

Passion can be a decoy. Adams mentions that passion is “The People’s Talent”. It’s available to all. It can lure you away from your true destiny. Trust passion but know it’s based in feeling not logic. Passion can cause us to be irrational. Proceed carefully. It doesn’t always mean that your passions are where your talents and skills reside in your success map. Desire is a better mile marker.

Passion and desire fuel determination. Passion and desire are determination’s compass.

Try writing out 5 things you have desire / passion for.

Let’s proceed to Talent + Skill.

Talent + Skill

“A dark-haired woman playing the violin in front of a piano in Montichiari” by Michel Catalisano on Unsplash

Just like passion and desire, people very easily confuse talent with skill. They are not the same thing. Talent is measuring tape for skill. The key differential is that talent is not a controlled variable. Skill is.

Will Petillo responds to a reader on Quora who asked What is the difference between talent and determination?:

Talent refers to the more difficult to measure tendency to learn a given skill significantly more quickly than average.

For example, if Bill and Joe — given similar prior experience and instruction — start practicing shooting free throws on a basketball court, both will improve over time. If it takes 200 shots for Bill to get to 50% accuracy and Joe 100 shots to get to 60% accuracy, that would be one small piece of evidence suggesting Joe is more talented. Bill could get just as good as Joe, or even better, but it will take him longer.

Conflating talent and skill can be subtly destructive when it makes one think that if something doesn’t come easy, one must lack talent, and if one lacks talent one will never be really good, and if one will never be really good then one might as well not try.

Understand that one must keep trying. Talent is the barometer for skill. The rate at which you become good at something is a good metric for your skill level.

I started writing 2 years ago. It did not take me but a few months to start accumulating a significant blog following. This made me realize that I have some writing talent.

In 7th grade I threw the basketball at the wrong hoop. That would be considered decelerating. As time went on I realized I couldn’t play. The metric wasn’t working. Clearly I was not meant to play college basketball or in the NBA. There was not only no vertical acceleration but there was no acceleration period. It was revealing therefore that I didn’t have much skill for playing basketball.

Try all 5 of your passions / desire you listed above and make note of how quickly you are accelerating as you go along. That should help you gauge what level of talent you have for them. Only then can you consider one of them a skill.

Your rate of vertical acceleration at a skill determines your talent which is fueled by passion and desire.

What if you’re extremely passionate and have lot of desire yet you never develop the level of success you want?

How can you discover your talent and skills at something if you aren’t passionate about it nor have desire to pursue it?

There’s a missing piece.

The importance of Value.


Photo by Akshar Dave on Unsplash

Another word you hear used a lot is value.

Value is the most important part of the equation.

Imagine a boating race.

Passion fuels the boat. Desire steers the boat. Determination is the boat’s compass. Talent accelerates the boat. Skill wins the race.

But what if you’re in the wrong race? If you’re not skilled at boating, it’s unlikely you’ll win the race. A large portion of the time people actually are in the wrong race. If you don’t show a significant amount of skill, it is quite difficult to become valuable to the outside world and in turn compete in races.

How does one solve this?


They respect themselves.

When you believe in yourself, you find passion and desire in areas you hadn’t previously considered. You become that creative maverick. You try other things. The list of 5 things above grows. You keep trying.

Rocket Fuel For Life:

  1. Never be afraid to keep trying new things
  2. Believe in yourself

When we believe in ourself we find the passion and desire to try new things which keeps us determined so we can gauge our skills with our talent barometer.

And in turn, very quietly, almost unknowingly, people value us.

Value is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

By Geoff Pilkington

You can connect with me at: www.geoffreypilkington.com

Originally published at medium.com