downside of following passionSuccessful people frequently advise others to do as they have and “follow your passion.” It sounds like great advice… BUT cartoonist Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has words of caution:

“For most people, it’s easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. In hindsight, it looks as if the projects that I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, my passion level moved with my success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success.”  — Wall Street Journal, Saturday, October 12, 2013 “Failure is the Secret to Success”

In other words, did an “area of interest” turn, both gradually and in retrospect, into a burning passion when the fires of success roared? Our memories are exceedingly fallible in general and we are particularly bad at maintaining a clear eyed perspective on ourselves.

Few of us have one, all consuming passion that if we do not follow we will regret all the days of our lives; most of us have multiple areas of interest, numerous dreams. In our heart of hearts, we know we must pick and chose and thus it behooves us to choose wisely. As the proverb says, you can have anything you want in life, you just can’t have everything. Many passions are in areas which are not suitable for earning a living; if that is your case consider saving it for your personal life. Balance is the key; since you are going to spend many of your waking hours at it, consider picking a career you enjoy, that interests you, at which you are good. You might find that eventually becomes your passion.

Closing quotes:

“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.”   — Benjamin Franklin; 1706–1790

“I do today from memory what yesterday I did in passion”  — Gerald Barzan

“If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”  — Katherine Hepburn; 1907–2003