Is it true that not to follow your passion – assume you have a passion, which many of those impressed by this advice, if they think deeply about, don’t really have – is suicide? “Suicide” in this context means, of course, ending in, as Freud would say, the trash can of your repressed desires: the sewer – sewerside.
In his ‘Follow your passion,’ is crappy advice. Joshua Fields Millburn interviews Cal Newport:
JFM: The advice often regurgitated throughout the Internet is simply, “You should follow your passion.” Why does this sound so appealing? Why is this bad advice?
Cal: It’s appealing because it’s both simple and daring. It tells you that you have a calling, and if you can discover it and muster the courage to follow it, your working life will be fantastic. A big, bold move that changes everything: this is a powerful storyline.
The problem is that we don’t have much evidence that this is how passion works. “Follow your passion” assumes: a) you have preexisting passion, and b) if you match this passion to your job, then you’ll enjoy that job.
When I studied the issue, it was more complex. Most people don’t have preexisting passions. And research on workplace satisfaction tells that people like their jobs for more nuanced reasons than simply they match some innate interests.
In Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Career Advice, Carolyn Gregoire writes:
Self-help books and career-building workshops love to peddle one secret to a successful career: Follow your passion. Ever since Confucius proclaimed, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” chasing one’s passion has been frequently served up as a quick fix for career happiness.
“Following your bliss” may be perfectly good (if a little hackneyed) advice, but when it comes to building sustainable success in your career, the answer might not be that obvious, according to Monique Valcour, a professor of management at EDHEC Business School in France, who has spent 15 years researching careers.
“The ‘follow your passion’ self-help industry tends to under-emphasize this key point: all of the self-awareness in the world is of little use if you can’t pitch your passion to a buyer,” Valcour wrote in a recent Harvard Business Review blog. “A sustainable career is built upon the ability to show that you can fill a need that someone is willing to pay for.
Here is the kind of advice the above writers are bashing. The heading of the blog article is a quote from Kevin Claiborne: “‘Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for.’ Chris Nicholas writes:
“We should be living every day to the fullest. Regret should be just a word in the dictionary. But it never is. We humans are creatures of hindsight; we are forever bound to look back at moments and note missed opportunities and failures. Did you fail to chase your dreams? Or tell your lover how much they mean to you? Were you disappointed that you didn’t invest in those risky shares that ultimately paid huge dividends? No matter what you thought of in your moment of fear you did have regrets. At some point you settled for something other than your true passions and now when your life flashed before your eyes you wished you’d never been so foolish.”
The comment box was awash with empathetic comments. Examples:
“I can definitely relate to this feeling. I was putting my passion on hold for too long. Great writing. Strong words.”
“I read your column in the morning just before doing anything else. It really hits me. It woke me up. It made me think and brainstorm.”
And this one takes the CAKE: “Great post…You have TRULY been Heard!”
In contrast to all these endorsements, I asked the following questions on two occasions:
Chris Hi, Are there any wrong passions?
Is it possible that following your passion could lead to suicide. As for death, it is indisputable, that following your passion has on many occasions led to death.
None of the above writers – I would think – have paid any thought to the only passion that is of lasting value, of eternal value: The Passion; the Passion of the Christ, which has little to do with passion – human or divine passion. Follow The Passion – with passion (See my Christ’s passion: sufferings of every kind and Passivity and suffering in the Passion of the Christ.