Should You Follow Your Passion?

Growing up, everyone tells you that you should do what you love and chase your passion.

But if you want to reach your full potential, passion may not be it. If you want to do work that you love, “Follow your passion” is usually always bad advice.

We’ve been taught that to be happy and successful, you have to go after what you love, but instead it should be all about doing what you’re good at.

For example, if your passion is music, but you’re bad at it, you probably shouldn’t pursue music no matter how much you love it.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it as a hobby for your own personal pleasure. You definitely should, but if you aren’t able to add value to other people’s lives then it will be very difficult for you in trying to make music into a career.

When it comes to your CAREER, you need to have more than just passion. You need skill.

In the book “The $100 Startup,” Chris Guillebeau, an entrepreneur and author, says,

“This is something all successful individuals know that unsuccessful individuals consistently tend to not know. You get paid for helping other people. You have to create value the same way anyone else does, without real value, you wont get paid.”

You can’t just say to yourself, “I’m going to be a great rapper because that’s what I love to do.” 

Having an interest in something is just a single component in the formula for success. It’s not the entire formula.

Too often, people have a romantic view of who they think they are versus who they actually are. Very rarely has anyone ever said to themselves, “I’m extremely passionate about baseball, I’m going to be the greatest baseball analyst ever,” and then does it.

Peter Drucker, the founder of modern business management and author, explained in his book “Managing Oneself” that people can only perform through their strengths.

Drucker says that if you focus on what you’re bad at, even though it may be what you’re passionate about, the best you’ll become is average. 

But if you focus on what you’re good at, then you can eventually become great.

Those who have all become great initially did what they were naturally good at, not what they initially had a passion for.

Interestingly, research shows that the more you do something you’re good at, the more you’re likely to see it at as your passion.

In a research study titled, “Jobs, Careers, and Callings: People’s Relation To Their Work,” Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski discovered that the strongest predictor of seeing work as your passion was the amount of time you spent on your work.

Your experience at something, Wrzesniewski found, was what created the love for what you do.

Wrzesniewski also found that the happiest people were not those who followed their passion, but instead were those who had put in the hard work to become excellent at what they do.

In other words, mastery yields passion.

When we’re good at something and we do it well, we’re happy. Passion is never the driving force of what makes great people great, but is always a by-product of years invested into mastering a craft.

If you want to love what you do, abandon the idea of pursuing your passion and instead invest your time in becoming great at something that you’re already good at.

At some level, everyone in the world has a unique competitive advantage in a specific area. Figure out what your competitive advantage is and then do that.

As Cal Newport, a professor and author, says,

“Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion.”


7 thoughts on “Should You Follow Your Passion?

  1. Interesting post, Vincent. 🙂
    My opinion is that success is 50% your passion and 50% your ability.
    I agree that passion alone is not enough… just take for example some of those people joining american idol who are very passionate in singing, but really couldn’t get a note right!
    But then again, someone might be really talented and good at something which they do not necessarily find fulfilling or satisfying…That’s why I think it should be a mix of both! 🙂
    I also agree that we should invest in improving what we’re already good at!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i love the american idol idea you used! i always use that to try to explain this idea. i agree with you. passion is important, but it’s not the only factor when it comes to success. it takes passion and ability like you said:) thank you Nina for always stopping by:)))

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So TRUE, So way back when bella was 16 – cause thats when life changed. I was like, I like ART, Biology and Computers. But I would faint at the sight of blood – so biology was out. I like ART – mum says to me, but your not brilliant of consistent at it. So all that was left was Computers – and to build a computer system /solution involves creativity of a sort. So 20 + years on I am still into computers (may be not the web stuff ), but back end HR and Payroll stuff.

    Then one thing I have to add on SKILL is skill can be gained by practice repetition and dedication, infact I believe anything can be learned if you are motivated and determined enough.

    Liked by 1 person

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