Should I Follow My Passion Or Not?
The legendary professional singer Tony Bennett has a famous quote:
“If you follow your passion, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
This idea is also solidified by none other than Oprah herself – here’s her advice:
“You’ve got to follow your passion. You’ve got to figure out what it is you love – who you really are. And have the courage to do that. I believe that the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your own dreams.”
Are you with me so far?
But before we go any further, let’s define what passion really is. There are a lot of different definitions out there – it could be a “strong desire for or devotion to something.” But I like this definition the best…”a strong and barely controllable emotion.” It’s an emotion you exude about something that you can barely control.
Do you have something like that in your life? I can name a few. So, this totally makes sense – if you love something that much, you are going to love spending time doing it, and if that very thing can produce a lifestyle and a paycheck, it’s really true what Tony Bennett is proclaiming… you really don’t have to work a day in your life…
But, what if you are passionate about something that you are just not good at? Or, if you are just mediocre at it, or better yet, you are just not cut out for it?
Quick story. I was 5’7 inches tall in middle school. That’s 67 inches. According to the statistics about children between 11 to 13 (middle school), both genders are on average about 52 inches tall. I was 15 inches taller than the average kid. I played basketball, and just so you know, I dominated. I skyed over kids, got rebounds and had some great moves to score baskets, lots and lots of baskets. In fact, I was passionate about the game. I worked hard to become the fastest and the most versatile player on the team. And I knew, even at such a young age, that I was going to be the very first Korean NBA player ever to be given a multimillion dollar contract to play starting point guard for the Lakers. Long story short, I am now 5’8” – I have only grown an inch since then. I sat on the bench my freshman year and didn’t make the JV team the next. My basketball career was over.
My point? I couldn’t earn a paycheck from what I was passionate about.
Here’s a third quote:
“Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”
Work is necessary. We must embrace the suck. And most people will understand this logic whether they are doing something they are passionate about or not. Some days, it will just feel like work and some days, it will just be hard. But the ones that knock it out of the park, the ones that reach the highest level of success, are the ones that figure out how to love it while doing it. Ones that know how to bring the passion with them.
I don’t think any of these 3 quotes are wrong. I think they should all co-exist and inspire us. And I believe we need to hear each one at a different point in our lives to help us keep moving forward.
I am super excited to talk about some of these life concepts I’ve been learning and thinking about on our next series called “Life Lessons.” I would love to tee it up and share some of my findings and I would love to hear back about yours as well.
So, what do you think? Should we follow our passion to make it our vocation? Or should we follow our effort? Or should we follow our talent? Or should we follow our opportunities? What would be your ultimate dream job that you would be most passionate about? Is that important? Is it overrated? Work is work? I have so many questions. I can’t wait to discuss next week’s topic. Stay tuned.