I’m lucky. I’ve known what I’m passionate about for quite some time. It probably started back in grade seven when I first started playing Warcraft 2 on my 486. The mystery about how a curious little box could bring me so much joy — hours upon hours on end — playing a simple computer game was baffling. But it didn’t stop at computer games. I would poke around this little box tweaking, fiddling, trying to figure out what everything did. Pulling out hardware and putting it back. Even formatting the hard drive for no good reason (to my brother’s dismay).

I’m also lucky for another reason: my mother. She saw this sudden interest in computers and wanted to cultivate it. So she hired an undergrad from York University to teach me about computers. Interestingly, my computer teacher didn’t really know what to teach me at first. He first asked about DOS, knew it. Then about HTML, knew it. Finally about hardware and how to install it. There I learned something new. There’s a strange sense of freedom when you figure out how to change your first hard drive. Being unbound from the shackles of the computer store technician whose motives all too often resembled that of an uncaring used car salesman is liberating. However, you can only teach someone about how to install a hard drive or a ISA card for so long. My newly hired computer teacher needed something more to teach me — lest he lose his newly needed source of income. Here began my first foray in programming.

I must admit, I wasn’t a great programmer at first. I didn’t understand all the concepts. Functions, sorting, recursion was all a wonderful blur that I didn’t quite understand, although I was only in grade seven. I remember the first program I wrote in Pascal was a simple little hundred-liner that printed “*” across the screen in a triangle pattern. When I showed my mom, she wasn’t nearly as excited as I was — although I’m sure she, nor I, realized the magnitude of the event. I think that’s when I first developed a passion for computers.

It’s hard for people who aren’t as lucky as me. Finding a passion for something is difficult. However, I recently came across a web page from my former professor Larry Smith who talks about “career development”. I feel obligated to advise anyone who still hasn’t found their passion to follow the wisdom of successful people before them. I list the first four principles here:

  1. You have passion for your work.
  2. In order to prepare for your work, you enjoy your studies.
  3. If you have not yet found your passion, you keep looking.
  4. Finding your passion and choosing your career takes great care and thought.

I like to share my wisdom as most people do, including some very successful people. One thing I always stress is to be passionate about something. However, many that I talk to, have not found their passion yet. I usually don’t have a useful response, I’ve liked (and have been good at) computers for almost as long as I can remember. This usually doesn’t help them. However, reading what Larry has to say about it really clicked with me. Finding your passion isn’t easy. Nor should it be. Like most good thing in life, it takes hard work. Those who aren’t prepared to work for it, don’t deserve to reap the benefits. I’m lucky. I’ve found my passion. I work hard everyday, not because I must, but because I can.