PASSION: “DO WHAT YOU LOVE” IS HORRIBLE ADVICE

Passion Broken Heart

Last week I came across this article on LinkedIn, and the title grabbed my attention: “Do What You Love” Is Horrible Advice.  I’ve always been interested in the concept of passion as it contributes to business success, so I was intrigued by the concepts the author puts forth – even though I don’t agree with all of his ideas. I’ve pulled out some quotes from the article below and added some notes based on my experience building a marketing agency. You can read the article in it’s entirety here: “Do What You Love” Is Horrible Advice by Jeff Hade. I’d love if you’d share your thoughts as well.

“Don’t focus on the value your work offers you…Instead focus on the value you produce through your work: how your actions are important, how you’re good at what you do, and how you’re connected to other people.”

This is an interesting perspective on passion! I agree there’s a difference between “passion” and “hobby” – many people look to turn their hobbies into a job, thinking they’ll “never work a day in their life,” but this doesn’t mean it’s a viable business idea. Having value and being paid for your work is an important component of passion, but people generally don’t like to talk about money. We become disillusioned and think if we just follow our passions we will be successful. While passion is an important ingredient in your career, it’s not the only one to be considered. There are practicalities that have to be entered into the success equation.

I disagree, however, with the author’s point that passion follows as you progress in your career, gain experience in your chosen field and receive positive feedback.

Passion is not something you follow. Passion is something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world…Where business success is concerned, passion is almost always the result of time and effort. It’s not a prerequisite.”

I think passion starts earlier than that. If you aren’t passionate about something in the first place – enough to keep learning about it and build your skill set – then it isn’t going to be a priority or career for you. Your level of interest and passion may build over time, but I believe there has to be a seed of this virtue that drives you along your path. Building your skills and gaining experience are the practical counterparts of passion.

There’s an important and essential intersection between passion + skills + experience that leads to uniquely successful people and businesses – as is demonstrated by the likes of Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, and even Henry Ford. This is a rare combination of exceptional skill and tenured experience, fueled by passion to do something ground-breaking. The book, “Entrepreneurial Genius: The Power of Passion” by Gene N Landum, tells the story of how each of these entrepreneurs had a passion in their given field and they set out to improve it and make their own mark.

All three of these ingredients, passion, skills & experience, are imperative for success – no matter what stage of your career you’re in. You won’t get very far with any of these components on their own – all of them have a place in the mix. They may even have different roles at different times throughout a career. I’m thrilled that passion continues to be an important topic as it relates to business. Let’s keep the conversation going.

1 Comment

  1. by Camille Verzal on July 3, 2014  10:14 pm Reply

    I haven't read Hade's article but am familiar with this philosophy/mind-set. Hard to say if I agree one way or the other. I'm constantly telling friends who are unhappy in their work to figure out not just their strengths but what makes them excited and challenged and eager to jump out of bed in the morning and to use this knowledge to point them in a direction better suited to their gifts. But as a consultant, there are times I find myself in jobs that I like but don't love. However, those opportunities enable me to try something different, stretch my comfort zone, and, ultimately, fund the time off I crave to pursue those endeavors that don't bring much money (e.g., creative writing, photography, volunteering, leading an active life) yet fulfill me in ways a job can't always do.

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