16 May Is following your passion wrong?
It’s common wisdom. Near gospel really, and not just among young people and founders. Across generational lines, sentiments like those from Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement at Stanford have been engraved into our collective consciousness:
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
In other words, follow your passion. There’s just one problem: “‘Follow your passion’ is dangerous advice.”
That’s a troubling claim, but it comes straight from Cal Newport’s investigation into “the details of how passionate people like Steve Jobs really got started” as well as what scientists say predicts happiness and fuels great accomplishment.
Newport’s not alone. In recent years, a host of leaders, academics, and entrepreneurs have all come to the same startling conclusion: nearly everything you’ve been told about following your passion is wrong.
Here are seven habits you need instead.
1. Not passion, purpose
Ryan Holiday, author of Ego Is the Enemy:
“Your passion may be the very thing holding you back from power or influence or accomplishment. Because just as often, we fail with — no, because of — passion. … [P]urpose deemphasizes the I. Purpose is about pursuing something outside yourself as opposed to pleasuring yourself.”
Until about a century ago, passion was a dirty word. Classical philosopher like Socrates and Marcus Aurelius saw passion as a liability not an asset: an insatiable and destructive force. Why?
Chiefly because passion is dangerously self-centered. In fact, our own modern descriptions of passion betray this inward bend: “I want to [blank]. I need to [blank]. I have to [blank].” In most cases, whatever word finishes those sentences — regardless of how well meaning it might be — is overshadowed by the first.
Purpose, on the other hand, is about them, not me
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