Is ‘Find Your Passion’ Terrible Advice?

Love Your Family

Work Superhard

Live Your Passion

–         Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia

The saying above is written on a whiteboard in my home office as a reminder of what I do and why I do it. If you don’t know who Gary V is, and you feel like you could benefit from some professional motivation mixed with a little hip-hop feel and a passion for the NY Jets, then I strongly recommend you follow him on social media today. He has been a huge motivation for me as I spun off from the corporate world to try to build my own consultancy. Self-employment is a series of the highest highs and the lowest lows. After a period of some phenomenal highs, I happen to be in a lower-period through no real fault of my own (full transparency, here; entrepreneurialism is HARD!). After a period of things seemingly all breaking in my favor, they seem to be breaking somewhat in the other direction for the time being. I say this not as an effort to win sympathy, but more as a service to say that this sh*t happens, and it happens to everyone. But at a time when I am potentially at my most vulnerable, I see a headline for an article which may bring my entire professional foundation crumbling down. The Atlantic published an article last month, ‘Find Your Passion’ Is Awful Advice.

In this piece, the author unpacks some ideas around why the approach of waiting to find your passion can be dangerous, especially for students. It maintains how if they wait for their passion to crash over them like a tsunami, then they could very well be waiting indefinitely. Waiting for your passion could equate to something called “fixed theory,” where you wait for something that aligns with pre-conceived interests as opposed to exposing yourself to something new. Also, this notion can cause people to give up too early because they jump to the conclusion that it must not have been their passion after all.

Point being you still must develop your passion. That comes from trying new things, working super hard, and most importantly self-awareness. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence will enable you to know how your passion fits into what it is you do.

The things I am most passionate about are: my wife and kids, USC Trojan Football, music, exercising, wine and bourbon. I have enough emotional intelligence to know that I am not going to make a living off of these things. I also am self-aware enough to know that I am not necessarily passionate about Internet lead generation which is ostensibly what I do for a living. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and that I get to do it, but how passionate can you really be about a completed Internet lead form?

I am sorry but as exciting as a successful digital marketing campaign can be, it’s not going to compete with a USC Rose Bowl win, watching my daughter dance or playing tennis with my wife. But what I am passionate about is doing business with people whom I like and trust. I learned this, I developed this throughout a career of jobs I loved, jobs I hated, bosses I loved, and bosses for whom I had no respect. I developed this passion throughout a career of highs and lows and that roller coaster is likely to continue, but that is OK. It is OK because I am in it with people whom I trust. These are people that I know have my back, and I have theirs. We structure deals – partnerships – where I know that we each have each other’s mutual interests in mind and with that, I believe that in the long run, it will work out. And I am passionate about making it so.


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