Imagine that in 5 minutes you’re about to talk to a bunch of business students but you can’t think of a subject to talk about. How about the fail safe preach of ‘do what you love’, a mantra even Steve Jobs promoted. You’d emerge 20 minutes later having killed it. However, you may have just given some very questionable advice.
1. Most people don’t have a single prevailing passion.
Many of us either do not have a passion, or have multiple passions. Maybe we should learn to acknowledge that we have yet to recognised a passion, rather than have confidence in a flawed passion. When we try to hard to look for something that isn’t there, we often miss present opportunities which could lead to a blissful path. Could it be that once you realise the best way to forge a career, you will not waste your life believing you were meant to be a Hollywood actor?
2. Your passion may turn to hell.
Even for directors who feel creating Oscar winning films has fulfilled their passion, many of them dread of looming deadlines and staying within a tight budget. Would you still love films if you had to spend hours shooting for a 5 second scene? Would you still love it if you had to do it for free? Confucius is associated to the aphorism “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, but Confucius didn’t live in the 21st century.
3. It might not be where the money is.
“I am a writer, but I love sex more than I love writing. And I am not getting paid for sex” Penelope Trunk observed. Acting on what we love may not be the wisest route when it comes to setting up a life for ourselves. Love is difficult to monetise.
4. Steve Jobs didn’t follow his own advice.
In his Stanford Commencement address in 2005, Job told his audience “You’ve got to find what you love…. [T]he only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Even during Apple’s founding years, his work at All-One Zen commune in Oregon and a later retreat practicing Buddhism in India all suggest that electronics were not his love. Instead, perhaps, he realised that by doing the things we love, it helps us to find what we are good at. Apple was simply not born out of passion, but a lucky break which took off.
Perhaps doing what we love is important, but to never make money from it. Rather, we find what we are good at and this is the key to success. Do what you are.
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