We all have something we’re good at and something we’re passionate about, and often those two things are entirely different. But even when we’re good at what we’re passionate about, does that mean we should pursue this passion as a career?Most people would say ‘yes,’ but I’d like to tell you why I think we shouldn’t.
We’re fond of telling children – and each other – to “follow our passion,” and that’s great advice, until it isn’t:
“When we create an expectation that children must find their one true interest so early in life, we cut short a process of discovery that may easily take a lifetime.”
Case in point: Growing up, I loved creating and anything visual, and I was a huge Lego fanatic. And it turns out I was good at it too. I didn’t consider building a career around Legos because it wasn’t practical (for me), but I DID pursue Architecture (an ‘adult’ Lego career, in a way, because it was my passion) for seven years. I even won a gold medal for it.
And do you know what I did the day I graduated? I quit.
“Architecture is a glorious profession and a horrible business” – unknown.
I realized I loved creating and I loved anything that was visually extravagant – not necessarily the design itself, rather the methodology of design. But I did not love the day-to-day business process of architecture.
And so it goes for lots of people. They, like me, give their passion a profession too early and in a misguided journey to find happiness they mistake a very keen interest for a professional living.
“Don’t follow your passion, bring it with you!”
– Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs.
The show Dirty Jobs and the man behind it, Mike Rowe, offer excellent insight that goes a long way toward debunking the typical “following your passion” platitudes. Rowe has found that most of the successful folks he interacts with found success by “taking the reverse commute.”
It wasn’t the person’s life dream to become a plumber, for example, but they looked around at where everyone else was going with a particular skill set and they went the other way. This reverse commute included elements they found somewhat appealing, but it was primarily focused around an opportunity. And from there, they got good at it and figured out a way to love it, which is undoubtedly easy to do once you become really good (and successful) at something!
Imagine, for a moment, that you loved art and obtained an art degree, but you had zero desire in becoming a museum curator or art teacher – and were not independently wealthy, so becoming a “fine artist” was just not in the cards. What would you do? You could consider a ‘secondary’ sort of related idea, like a multimedia programmer or art therapist OR you could make art your hobby and take your career in an entirely different way, finding the “reverse commute” that made sense for you.
“Sometimes on the way to your dream, you get lost and find a better one.”
― Lisa Hammond, Permission to Dream: Stepping Stones to Create a Life of Passion and Purpose
In my case, branching out from architecture, I started a company around 3D technologies, and went from 3D animation to what we do now, 3D simulation. I don’t remember being uber passionate about it from day one, but I LOVE it now, and bring that enthusiasm with me every day. It has the same two elements that made me passionate about being an architect – creating and being visually immersed.
Don’t be too quick to assign a profession to your passion, rather focus on making yourself PASSIONATE.
I’ll leave you with the video you’ll find on this link sharing “the six pillars of finding a life-path that bridges money and meaning” (you’ll have to watch to learn what they are) and this challenge: have confidence in your ability to find and develop an opportunity YOU can be passionate about.