Charles Kovess was previously a very successful lawyer. He’d wanted to be a lawyer all his life and enjoyed his work – indeed was passionate about it – but after doing several self-development courses, including an intensive in Hawaii with Robert Kiyosaki (Money & You and Rich Dad, Poor Dad), he made the decision to drop his law profession, even though he had a family to support – four kids at private schools.
The reason he did this is that he believes that we are better off doing what we are passionate about rather than being in jobs that we hate.
I asked him how he had the guts to chuck it all in.
He commented that he has clients now who want to do the same thing, but are scared to relinquish their large incomes and ask him how to do it. “The answer to the question is to understand that it is scary and there are big risks involved in it and they need to really explore their philosophy.
“Here’s a philosophy that I have found useful: Life is not about avoiding risks. Secondly we build up assets and resources so that we can leave what we’re doing and reinvent ourselves and live off our resources a bit like animals in the summer get fat so as to survive the leaner winter. We have been sold a big lie that life is about accumulating assets so that you can retire.”
One of Charles’ passions is education and he has some strong and sensible ideas about the subject. “I decided education was more important than law in 1993 and left my successful law career because the world is changing and the only way to survive is to be willing to learn. I talk about that in both my books: Passionate People Produce and Passionate Performance.”
“Education is about enabling our capabilities to live a life that we want to live. Every child is hungry to learn. I have a 32-year-old daughter, three adult sons and a 3-year-old daughter. My 3-year-old is constantly hungry to learn. It is our natural state, and our current education system kills that hunger to learn. So I encourage people to rethink their attitude to education, to commit to lifelong learning because of the rate of change.
“Schools kill passion and the problem is that they need to be run as a system, and every child in the school is such an amazingly unique individual. So the paradox is that we need the system to run the school, but the system goes a long way to squashing the individuality. As parents we need to understand that process and keep encouraging the individuality of our children because being different at school causes pain. You are ostracised, you are bullied, if you are different. Conformity is what schools want – and it kills passion.
“I observe many people who have stopped continuous learning and then get into struggle mode because people don’t want them because their brains have slowed down while the world is speeding up.
“Less than 10% of Australians invest money in their own education after they have finished their formal education. That is a damming figure. That figure is available from the universities right around Australia who are trying to get people to enrol in their post-graduate courses. People are not interested.
“When people come to me and say life is tough, I say to them re-educate yourself, and those people who feel that life is toughest are those who have stopped learning. So this is where this whole issue of responsibility comes in. We have to understand the need to take responsibility for our own lives, and I am very concerned that Australia and America are heading down the line to the ‘entitlement culture’ where people say I’m entitled to certain things or I’m entitled to wealth, etc., but these people have stopped learning.
“With the internet today you can learn vast amounts on any subject very quickly, and here’s an interesting number – if you spend 15 minutes a day on any new topic, after two years you would have done 180 hours’ research and you would be one of the world’s experts in that field … by just 15 minutes a day. I laugh at people when they tell me they don’t have time to educate themselves.”
Charles is an expert on passion, one of the first in the world to get into it 20 years ago. His definition of passion is that it is a source of unlimited energy from your spirit. When you are passionate you have massive energy. He says that’s one of the core tests.
“What do you have enormous energy for? If you are energetic and have high energy you are highly productive. When you add value to other people because you are passionate, you have lots of energy and you have high productivity and you get rewarded. The universe works like this – add value, be rewarded; add no value, get no reward. That’s why being passionate makes such a difference that hard work stops being hard. There’s a wonderful quote [by Confucius] – ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.’
“That’s what I find myself. I work 60 to 70 hours a week and have very few holidays because I don’t need them. I do what I love.”
I ask him if there is a downside to pursuing your passion.
“Yes. The loss of the illusion of security. The status I had as a lawyer I lost, I had to sell my house, my income goes down, I might not succeed and may need to go back to my original role.
“There is not a course of action that we can take that does not have downsides, and I learnt this beautiful principle of balance from John De Martini.
“In the universe there is exquisite balance. So if you don’t pursue your passion there are downsides and there are upsides. If you do pursue your passion there are downsides and there are upsides. Stop thinking that you can take any course of action that does not have downsides. Once we understand that, it liberates us from the nonsensical idea that we can take action that does not have difficulties.
“Most people are depressed because they are looking to avoid pain. They are looking for the easy life. By definition things we call achievements are difficult. Winning Tattslotto is not an achievement. If you spend your life looking for the easy way there will never be any achievements. In my view that’s why such people are depressed, don’t feel good about themselves, have low self-esteem, because they have not taken the risk of doing difficult things – and the problem is our whole society looks for the easy way to live life, and that is a lie.”
Charles has a white paper on 17 practical steps to discover your passion, which he will kindly email to anyone who asks: Charles@kovess.com
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