Season 2,
45 Min

Episode 52: Is ‘follow your passion’ bad advice?

May 08, 2017

Do what you love. Follow your passion. This kind of advice has become a common catch-phrase of our time.  But is this actually good advice? Does it correspond to the reality of how successful people who are ‘doing what they love’ got to where they are today?

Perhaps one of the biggest problems with the idea of following your passion is the insecurity it creates in us — What if we don’t have a passion? Or if we do, is it our True Passion? Is our passion strong enough? And can we have a fulfilling life even if we never identify our passion?

This week, Clay and Sarah discuss the question of whether following your passion is worthwhile advice.

In this episode we discuss:

* The implications of linking ‘what you love’ with your finances

* Why ‘follow your passion’ might be dangerous advice

* They way we’ve perceived the idea of ‘passion’ over time from a destructive force to a source of happiness

* Attitudes to ‘Follow your passion’ between Baby Boomer generation, Generation X and the Millenials 

* The difference between finding your Passion vs finding your Purpose

* Three interpretations of finding your Purpose

*  The difference betweeen passion and practice – Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and the 10,000 hours for mastery rule


In an article “Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Advice”, Aaron Orendorff lists seven habits we need instead of passion in order to be successful in achieving our goals or dreams.  According to Orendorff, these align much more closely to why people like Steve Jobs, (who famously advised a group of graduates at Stanford University that “The only way to do great work is to love what your do.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.  Don’t settle.”) became successful.

Purpose – moves away from the dangerous self-centred perspective of passion and connects us with people and causes we’re trying to reach.

Picking – while passion can blind us to knowing how to be strategic, picking is the skill of knowing when to say No and how to most effectively direct our energies

Practice – we often expect our passion to be enough to see us through, but in fact even the greatest masters spent thousands of hours practicing their skills

Planning – while not as glamorous as passion, planning turns simplistic optimism into the nitty-gritty details of HOW we will get achieve something

Positioning – again taking us away from a narrow ‘me and my passion’ attitude, positioning forces us to be aware of the other players in our field and how we fit

Peripheral – instead of focusing narrowly on our passion, peripheral view invites us to look around us for new ideas and to use our existing knowledge in innovative ways

Perseverance – passion can often also blind us to repeating the same mistakes again and again, while perserverance allows a continual process of study, learning from mistakes, tacking and shifting course when necessary in order to slowly gain skill and move forward

Ultimately another aspect this advice of ‘following your passion’ doesn’t consider is our lifestyle, which is a massive part of our happiness.  Sometimes ‘what it takes’ to achieve a dream we once had isn’t worth the lifestyle costs.  Sometimes it can be enough to keep our ‘passion’ as a hobby rather trying to fit our entire life around this one aspect.

What do you think? Do you feel like you have a passion? Is it tied to what you do for a living? If so, how does that work for you? And if not, what has influenced you to keep your passion and ‘work’ separate?


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