(Do Not) Follow Your Passion
Rather, follow your skills for a meaningful career...because don't you feel great when you're totally awesome at something?
The cheapest career advice you can get is to "follow your passion." This idea sounds cool, but there is so much more to a meaningful career than matching your job to a pre-existing passion.
I love making stuff, but I'm not that good at it. I'm a better leader, so I've chosen to follow that path (but I still make stuff).
Recently I finished reading the book So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport.
Cal explains that the, "strongest predictor of someone seeing their work as a calling is the number of years spent on the job. The more experience they have, the more likely they are to love their work."
So maybe the happiest, most passionate people are not those who followed their passion into a position, but instead those who stuck with their job long enough to become really, really good at it.
Motivation requires that you fulfill 3 basic psychological needs:
No one owes you a great career - it's up to you to earn it. Earning it is going to be difficult. While the process won't be easy, it will be worth it over the long run if you can dedicate yourself to becoming incredibly good at what you do.
Cal explains the hardest phase of creating a meaningful career:
The key thing is to force yourself through the work, force the skills to come.
Stop wondering if your job is your true passion. Turn your focus toward becoming so good that no one can ignore you.
These are the traits that define great work:
Think these traits are rare and valuable? You are definitely right. Face it, most organizations don't offer their employees great creativity, impact, or control over what they do and how they do it.
So how can you get these traits? Supply and demand says you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return. These rare and valuable skills are your career capital. So push yourself, get really good.
You need to get good in order to get good things in your working life.
If you're enthralled by the myth of a true calling...Cal will tell you "there's nothing more heroic than trading comfort for passion."
You have to get good before you can expect good work.
9/9/2014 03:29:36 am
Hi Paul, not sure I totally agree with your premise. If you are truly passionate about something, you'll put in the time and effort, and eventually become good at it. Without passion, it's hard to stick with something long enough to master it. I'd rather take someone with passion over someone that is skilled but doesn't really care much about their work. Skills can be learned, passion can not.
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Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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