“Follow your passion.”
It’s common advice for every soul-searching college student. If you stick with what you love, everything else will fall perfectly into place.
But I’m starting to think maybe this isn’t always the case. To be honest, people who chase their passions scare me. It seems as if they trust so fully in the one thing they love that they often volunteer to jump overboard, clinging to their passion as their only flotation device. They have nothing else to keep them afloat. And when they lose it, they lose everything.
Essentially, people who run on passion need a back-up plan or strategy for financial security. My main concern, however, is that these driven people understand success does not come from passion alone.
Granted, this can differ depending on how you define success. But when I hear successful people talk about their lives and how they got to where they are, they talk about how hard they had to work. They talk about failures. They talk about late nights, cheap meals and perseverance. Sometimes they talk about how their passion helped them through it, but they know they didn’t get to where they are because of it.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal told the story of Scott Adams, a commercial loan officer for a large bank who dealt with small businesses. His boss told him to never give loans to someone who is following their passion, they are a bad bet. If someone’s passion is sports and they want to open a store for all things sport-related, their passion is not going to help them run a business well. Give the loan to a guy who is willing to grind it out over spreadsheets and work hard to make a business run, not the guy who loves his job.
Having passion about life makes it more enjoyable–we need passionate people to inspire us. But if you’re clinging to the plan to just “follow” that passion, be prepared to pack along hard work and drudgery along with you.
Discovering what you love is important. But don’t rely on it to make everything fall into place.