Your Passion is Overrated

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Young woman eating cupcake depicting passion by GradSimple.

In 2005, Steve Jobs said something that would go on to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and leave a trail of destruction in its wake. 

I’m talking about his Stanford Commencement Address, and specifically the lines in bold:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

In a vacuum, there’s nothing wrong with what he said. Heck, it deserves to (and has) been enshrined as one of the GOATs of inspirational quotes. 

The idea of chasing after your passion isn’t new. It has existed for centuries, and Hollywood has milked the idea.

So What Did Steve Do?

He added credibility, or should I say, a billionaire’s credibility, in the form of an American dream-sized TNT to an already burning flame.

The result? Many people took and continue to take his advice literally – with reckless abandon. They use passion as their career guide. While it pans out for some, many aren’t so lucky. 

what do you consider your passions?

In my case, the first things that come to mind are things like basketball, writing, traveling, and watching Netflix. Man, how I wish I could be a full-time professional Netflix enjoyer. 

And before you one up me and say: “but Tyler, have you ever heard of Michael Jordan, J.K. Rowling, travel influencers, and film critics?” Uh-doi. 

Ever heard of survivorship bias?

We only hear about the ones who’ve made it, and not the ones who’ve failed. 

But chances are, you’re not in that boat. Neither am I. And as much as my 5 ‘9, flat foot, pizza in my veins butt wants to play in the NBA, I’ll have to pass. 

Now I know, that’s a tad bit extreme. Okay, so what about doing something more “realistic” like coaching, becoming a sports writer, or perhaps starting a basketball manufacturing business! 

Fair points. But I have 0 experience coaching, I’ve never published a piece of writing in my life, and I know nothing about starting a business. 

Just Do It.

You hate your 9 – 5. You need to take the leap. Quit your job. Pursue your passion. Do it Tyler, Do it. 

This, my friends, is the “passion hypothesis” at its worst, a term coined by Cal Newport, author of “So Good They Can’t Ignore You.”

It’s the idea that the key to career happiness is to first identify your passion, then find a job that matches this passion. I admit, its allure is irresistible – like catnip to a cat. 

While completely innocent at first glance, it can be terrible career advice. 

In fact, the whole basis of Cal’s book is in disagreement with the passion hypothesis! He has an interesting (perhaps even controversial) take on achieving fulfillment.

You should not do what you love, but instead, learn to love what you do. 

When it comes to your career, passion is overrated. 

Now, you’re probably thinking: “that’s ridiculous, you can’t expect me to abandon my passions. I won’t settle.” And, I agree (I’m in the same boat). But probably not in the way you think.  

You may have what I call Career Passionitis. 

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The human who runs the ship. Occasional writer, occasional web developer. Yes, this is the guy who hired a raccoon (if you know, you know).

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