Develop Your Passion, Don’t Find It

Develop Your Passion, Don’t Find It

by David Shane Goh

About David

David Goh is a Grade 10 SWA student. He was fascinated as a child by other students winning awards at math competitions. He started out joining competitions when he was just eight years old, winning his first medal. He has joined national and international competitions since. The last competition he joined, he won the championship trophy and three gold medals. He realised that his passion for math started to develop and grow. He has been to three different countries for math competitions, namely the United States, India and Singapore. After going to all of these competitions, he realised that his passion started to develop beyond his expectations. He shared his experience of Mathematics competitions in relation to developing one’s passion.

Often, people will say, "find your passion", but what does that actually mean? It's vague, and people have different interpretations of this single statement. David has his own perspective. David has a passion for math. He won his first medal in a math competition in Singapore when he was just eight years old. From this success, David has become more motivated than ever and has joined even more competitions. He has won many times: from the provincial, national, and even international level.


The road to success wasn't always easy for David. At one time, he even trained for one month, studying mathematics for seven to eight hours a day. It was very difficult, but he persevered. Passion and a certain mindset is what kept him going.

David states that there are two important things when it comes to one’s passion. First, find something that you are passionate about and trust that it exists within. You can tell if you are passionate about something when it comes relatively easy and puts you into the zone, hours upon end. Second, consider your mindset because your mindset is critical when it comes to one's passion. The passion may already exist within you, but then it is up to the individual to develop that passion.

One must have a ‘growth’ mindset, as opposed to a ‘fixed’ mindset. A growth mindset leaves one open to developing one’s passion beyond what is naturally given, and letting failure be fuel, rather than discouragement. A fixed mindset is the false belief that one doesn’t even have to try to develop one’s passion, and that the passion is a fixed talent, beyond one’s nurturing. With a fixed mindset it can be tempting to observe the seemingly easy success of others - the success that was actually a result of hard work. In the growth mindset that David subscribes to, challenges and criticism translate into motivation in order to strive for more, and the success of others is not met with jealousy, but only serves to inspire.

David took Michael Jordan as a role model: where he has failed thousands of shots and even lost hundreds of games, overall he still succeeds. David believes that although passion is innate and born, one must develop it and nurture it, and that attitude is the key, and to let failure fuel one’s determination to develop one’s passion.

Watch David’s talk on TEDxYouth@SWA 2020:

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