18 Dec Why Following Your Passion is Bad Advice
I was searching for my passion for a period of time. I wanted to know what I should pursue in my life. A course of work that I could devote all my energy toward it and enjoy doing it. My late mentor, Dennis Ng, told me I have to search within. The answer is in me. I would say even after a few years I still do not know what my passion is but I have gained a more valuable insight.
You would have heard of such phrases:
“Do what you love and you do not need to work a day in your life!”
“Do what you love and the money will follow.”
How wonderful and motivating these phrases are? Life would be so good if it happens to me.
Don’t you feel the same way? Are you searching for your ideal job or career? Are you finding that passion of yours?
A book caught my eye one day, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport. The book told the story of the legendary Steve Jobs. If Steve Jobs had followed his passion, he would have been a zen monk. For a period of his life, Steve was a practitioner of zen Buddhism and he even went to India to seek enlightenment. That was his passion. We won’t have our beautiful iphones and Macs if he had became a monk.
His career in IT was born out of an opportunistic endeavour, and not of passion. It happened that personal computers were in the nascent stage and seeing a potential to make a few thousand dollars, Jobs partnered Steve Wozniak to create the first Apple computer and sold the units to a local shop. That initial plunge into IT went so much further than they could imagine. They provided something of value to the market, not because Steve Jobs was passionate about computers.
My intention of writing Secrets of Singapore Trading Gurus was to show how hard trading is, instead of promoting it. I wanted to discourage those who are not prepared to take the hard knocks of trading, to give up trading. This would save them a lot of time and energy.
I shared this with my publisher and I said I was ironic. In the sense that I discouraged people to pursue their passion in trading while I encourage people with passion in business to be entrepreneurs. Both are risky endeavours but why do I have a split stand? He told me I shouldn’t be. Not everyone can be entrepreneurs and following one’s passion cannot be trusted advice.
Now I understand what he meant. I had a friend who wanted to quit his job and do business. Instead of just giving him the pat on the back and ask him to go for it, which I would in the past, I am asking him something else – what value are you providing and would people pay for it?
This is a capitalist society. You must be providing something of value that others will pay for. The better you are at something than most people, the higher pay you command. For example, you may be passionate about photography but you may not be good enough to charge for your pictures. But if you are so good, people will pay you top dollars for your service.
Don’t get me wrong, passion is still useful. I have devised the following set of questions to help you find a direction in life. The first two questions to ask yourself ensure you are grounded in reality while the subsequent two questions are related to passion. Passion becomes an afterthought. This set of questions will help you make a balanced decision whether to pursue something or not.
- What are you good at than most people?
- Would people pay you for it?
- Would you enjoy doing it?
- Would you enjoy the tedious process of honing your skills continuously?
Getting ‘yes’ for the last 3 questions will set you up in the right direction for your career.