Why Following Your Passion is Bad Advice (ask yourself these questions before quitting your job)

In today's episode I present an argument that will show you why following your passion is bad advice.  For years, gurus and career advisers have been harping on about the importance of following your passion (including Steve Jobs), yet in actuality, this is not what we should actually do. Before we can just 'quit' we need to have specific skills and experience so we can provide value into the world.

This video will open your eyes to what is really happening when we following our passion and also show you how to avoid disappointment.




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Full Transcription Below:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Hayden Wilson here for Learn Share Grow live. All this week we’re going to be talking about career success and how you can achieve the most out of your career.


We’re going to take a couple of different out takes on the actual hypothesis which is called the passion hypothesis. This weighs up whether you are actually good at something or whether you have a passion in that area. A lot of people do give the advice of following your passion and we’re constantly told that we need to chase our dreams. But I’m here in this video in particular, to tell you why I think that’s bad advice. A lot of this material has been introduced to me by Cal Newport who wrote a book called ‘So good they can’t ignore you’ which is a Steve Martin quote and one that I particularly agree and resonate with.


I want to present to you three arguments why passion is not necessarily the best route to take and not the best advice. The first is that career passions are rare. We all have passions however there is a low correlation to how that relates to our careers. A study conducted in Canada found that 96% of people didn’t have a career within their passion. So that means that only 4% had transformed what they thought was their passion into a career. What we have found is that passion takes time. We need to understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day and to get passion in certain areas of our life does take time.


Also, I want to mention that passion is a side effect of mastery – the better you are at something, the more passion you feel. Dan Pink has done a lot of work on this in the motivational exercise field and he’s found what’s called the self determination theory. To have the feeling of happiness in our workplace and to have that motivation we need to have three things. The first is autonomy – we need to know we have control over our day and that we can control the outcome. The second thing we need is competence. There have been countless cases of where people want to follow their passion and they throw it in. There’s one particular example that comes to my head where a lady was working in journalism and she wanted to switch over to a yoga instructor so she threw in the towel and then went to do a 200 hour yoga instructor course. She thought she could make it because she had this passion for yoga but what actually ended up happening is she discovered she had no career capital and no skills in that particular area as much as she did in journalism. This obviously led to unhappiness and unfulfilment. She thought after everyone was telling her ‘you should get a job in the yoga field because you’re really passionate about it’ – this ended up being bad advice. So you need to have that autonomy which is the control, you need to have that competence and actually be good at something before you can throw yourself in, and the other thing you need is relatedness, how you work with other people, how you work in relation to them and form part of a group.


So before you throw it in, before you decide that you want to quit your job, I want you to ask yourself these three questions.


The first is, ‘Is the grass greener on the other side?’ This is pretty much a take on the question of let’s really look at it and analyse, is this something that I can see myself doing? Is this an area where I have skills and I can add value to the market place? We are paid in direct proportion to the value we provide into the world. I want you to do a very honest and critical self analysis – do I have skills in that area or is it just a pipedream?


The second question which is a flow on is, ‘Can I use this as a new hobby first?’   A lot of the work I’ve done has been in web design which started off as a hobby which then eventually formed part of my career. For the first two years it was just a hobby and I was building my skills set around how to actually build websites, what the market place wanted and where I could build that value. That’s what you need to do. It’s fine to like a certain element, without having to make it your career – you might just like to have that as a hobby.


The third question is, ‘What skills and attributes do I need to have, or who do I look up to and what skills and attributes do they have so I can replicate that and then get the same level of success as them?’ Success leaves clues and when you find someone that you look up to aspire to be like, we really need to look at why they’re so special, what skills do they have, what courses have they taken, what areas of their lives have they made sacrifices in – and then we need to ask ourselves are we prepared to make those same sacrifices. Are we prepared to spend the time learning what they’ve learnt, travelling where they’ve travelled, to get that same amount of success, because we can’t just follow our passions? We need to have skills and definite areas of expertise to provide that value into the world.


So this is a very quick introduction, I’m trying to make this video quite a short one because I’ve got a lot to cover all week so I want to put this in a concise video, that following your passion is actually bad advice. I will present a few different arguments over the week. Ask yourself those three questions: Is the grass greener; Can I just do this as a hobby, build up my skills set and then transition over which is the best option; and then, what skills and attributes do I need to become like the people I aspire to be to?


Thanks for watching. Any questions, jump over to haydenwilson.com.au and you can contact me there. Otherwise, I’ll see you all tomorrow. Ciao.