How to Live a Rich Life: Portfolio of Passions

I’m currently reading Success Built to Last, and I think it is one of the best books I’ve read recently. While most books only touch on the superficial issues like getting rich, famous, or success in its narrow sense, this book cuts through the surface and gets right to the essence: how to create a fulfilling life, a life that matters.

There are many invaluable life lessons I get from this book, but this time I’d like to touch on only one of them, which is portfolio of passions.

Although one passion usually dominates Builders’ lives and defines their successes in the eyes of the world, it’s a mistake to believe there’s just one passion that must be pursued at the expense of all others… Focus should not be confused with a narrow life… On the way to lasting success and a life that matters, Builders embrace more than one passion… What you really need is to balance your portfolio of passions… For Builders, there is not just one thing to do with their life. Every passion counts.

(“Builders” is the term the authors used for “enduringly successful people”)

This concept of “portfolio of passions” answers one of my confusions in life. I love personal development, but I also love business and information technology. Previously I was confused: which one should I choose? Which one should I build my career upon? Now I understand that there is actually no problem here: I do not need to choose any of them! Instead, what I need to do is finding place for each of those passions and finding ways to leverage them.

One name that comes into to my mind is Darren Rowse. He is commonly known as the Problogger through his famous Problogger blog, but he also has numerous other successful blogs such as Digital Photography School. How can he start so many successful blogs? How can he be successful in so many fields? While some people may see it as lack of focus, now I understand that what Darren actually does: he is leveraging his portfolio of passions. He finds a place for each of his passions and turn them into successful ventures.

Learning from this, I believe that our portfolio of passions is the starting point of living a rich life. Instead of neglecting some of our passions in the name of focus, we can start identifying them and finding ways to leverage them. As said in the quote above, every passion counts.


  1. This is inspiring food for action, Donald.

    While I have acknowledged that I have a portolio of passions, somewhere along the way I picked up the belief that one would be my key focus and the others would be to explore less seriously. You have helped me to make the shift to letting my passions be like different children that I will nurture and love equally.

    Thank you!


  2. Donald,

    Great post! Using Darren Rowse as an example as you have, I kept asking myself the same question: How does he keep up with it all??

    Your take on leveraging the passions is a wonderful way to look at it. Yes, the time will still need to be spent on any given endeavor, but by focusing on that endeavor during the time that we dedicate to it, we will see success.

    Thanks for sharing this, Donald.

  3. @Susan:
    “… letting my passions be like different children that I will nurture and love equally.”
    That’s a good way to look at it. I like it!

    “… focusing on that endeavor during the time that we dedicate to it”
    Wow, this is mixing focus and portfolio of passion in one sentence. Great!

    Your comments give me new insights to this topic. Thanks for sharing!

  4. […] A Balancing of Passions March 29th, 2007 — cosmicsurfer How to Live a rich Life – Portfolio of Passion […]

  5. […] How to Live a Rich Life Portfolio of Passions[Life Optimizer] – Maintaining many different interests in harmony. How to Ace Your Finals Without Studying[Scott H Young] – Combining and integrating your knowledge. […]

  6. […] Find place for your multiple passionsYou do need to find a place for everything that is meaningful to you (your portfolio of passions). When you exclude all other things except a single focus for your life, there is a danger that you might find it impossible to locate the real treasure. […]

  7. […] Develop multiple passions This step gives you the different ideas you need. I’ve written that the way to live a rich life is by developing portfolio of passions. Don’t narrow yourself to only one passion. Expand yourself and develop your multiple passions. If you are too focused to only one area, it is unlikely that you will develop fresh ideas for that area. Remember that ideas are cross-pollinating. You need ideas from different fields which can enrich one another. Plant and grow different flowers in your garden of life, and they will cross-pollinate. […]

  8. […] I believe that developing your multiple passions is important to live a rich life. Besides, it is also important to be able to develop your ideas exponentially. But how do you do that? How do you develop your multiple passions? Here I’d like to share some practical steps you can do to develop your multiple passions. Here they are: […]

  9. Yes, finding a place for each passion sounds O.K. to me.

    That’s a great concept, than you simply ‘act out’ on who you are to the fullest.

    Personally I also have had some doubts about if it’s not smarter to just focus on
    only one or two passions. Somehow this feels like the same logic as the notion that you can pick up an object with only two fingers, but this doesn’t mean that I am inclined to cut off a few of my other fingers!

    Maybe my blog indeed might seem to be a little ‘Unfocussed’,
    Maybe I just AM a little ‘Unfocussed’ who knows, it probably is just who I am.
    On the other hand If you walk into a garden with only pine trees it probably isn’t a
    nice garden, you could use some variety.

    BTW in realation to my ‘Focus’ (a Happy, Health & Rich Lifestyle) this ‘acting out on who you ARE’ does remind me of some quotes I once read, that might shine a little light on this matter as seen from the perspective of how MONEY occurs to people:

    1) Money occurs to the POOR, as something you have or don’t have.

    2) Money occurs to the MIDDLE-CLASS, as something you DO, (like a job)

    3) Money occurs to the WEALTHY, as something you ARE.

    Thanks for your post,

    All the Best,

  10. Great quotes and sharing, HP! I agree, something which seems a bit “unfocused” may actually be a blend of different colors from different passions. As you said, “walking into a garden with only pine trees” is boring; we do need different colors.

  11. […] Find place for your multiple passions You do need to find a place for everything that is meaningful to you (your portfolio of passions). When you exclude all other things except a single focus for your life, there is a danger that you might find it impossible to locate the real treasure. […]

  12. […] This question will help you find your mission in life. Your mission in life should be something which is both very interesting to you and also very useful to others. Look at your multiple passions which represent your gladness, and then find the most painful problems in the world that can possibly be solved by combining those passions. This, of course, requires observation and reflection from time to time. You will find your answer to this question gets refined and sharpened over time. […]

  13. […] First of all, you should recognize your multiple passions. I’m sure everyone has multiple passions; it’s just a matter of discovering them. How do you know whether or not something is your passion? Here is a test: […]

  14. […] makes you excited in life? Everyone has passion. In fact, I believe that everyone has multiple passions. Spending time in your passions will undoubtedly give you happiness since you are doing what you […]

  15. […] te emociona en la vida? Todos tenemos una pasíon. De hecho, creo que todo el mundo tiene múltiples pasiones. Gastar el tiempo en tus pasiones te dará felicidad, sin duda, pues estás haciendo aquello para […]

  16. […] Explore your passions I believe everyone has multiple passions that are waiting to be explored. Don’t limit yourself to only one passion. Build your portfolio of passions. […]

  17. […] your multiple passions is important to improve yourself. By nurturing your passions, you will be able to cross-pollinate […]

  18. I am currently a college student (first-year student) and was very disappointed when I realized my school did not offer linguistics. However, I came to the school thinking I would major in Japanese, but realized I did not want to follow this path.
    So in my second semester I decided to take some “fun” classes: Computer Science and Art History. Voila. Not quite.
    While at my friends house playing video games I remembered how much I love the stories they share. That fits in with computer science and with art history I can not only learn about cultures (the other benefit of languages and therefore linguistics), but I could study the book arts and follow the progression of languages through the ages. And what is better than walking in Italy or Paris and knowing the ancient buildings you are walking through?

    My ideas finally came together: video games to teach language/culture. Or something along those lines. I’m still playing around with the idea.

    Thanks for the article! Just wanted to share my own story.

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