(Disclaimer:- Don’t let the word ‘Infatuation’ fool you. This piece is anything, but about love.)
‘If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out’
– Steve Jobs
It was at a family wedding (yeah, an unlikely place to discuss such an issue) that I met one of my distant relatives who is currently a professor in one of Singapore’s esteemed universities, that we started discussing the issue of Passion (only passion, and not infatuation) and how the whole concept of doing what you love seems a superficial one that fails more people, depresses more people and has a negative effect on more people than a positive one.
Let’s take a look at the quote by which this article starts, which is yet another one of those motivating quotes, that stirrs up your adrenaline, fires up your productive side and lights up that burning desire inside you to follow your passion; the passion that maybe, one of you gave up for something more practical, for something more ‘ordinary’. Well, for most of us, this adrenaline rush, as it might rightly be called, lasts only for a minute (like, in the literal sense), and then we go back to being our old selves, binge watching another season of F.R.I.E.N.D.S or Game of thrones or any of the new Netflix series (not to say that binge watching is unproductive).
It is funny how mostly all ‘self help’ books as they call them, are centered around the very same concept, following your passion, doing something that you love doing, letting your heart decide what you want and other ‘fiery’ stuff. And the result? If you follow this passion, you’ll make it big in life, you’ll earn loads, be successful, and most importantly, satisfy yourself, internally. Now, who can forget the very famous line by Paulo Coelho in one of his much acclaimed works, The Alchemist, ‘And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it’. Most of the critically acclaimed self help books be it The Alchemist, The Monk who sold his Ferrari or one of the many others, focus on this very thing. Besides, the most famous quotes by the most inspiring men are something like the one with which this article starts with, all focusing around your passion, telling you that there is that one thing that you love, that you will be successful at. Now, I am not saying all this is a sham or that all this is just a reflection of an utopian scenario which most people cannot attain, all I am saying is let’s for a moment, look at it the other way, let us see why this whole argument might not always be true or should not be something thay every individual strives to achieve.
Firstly, this argument suggests that passion is all you need to be proficient at a thing or to be happy and satisfied, undermining other factors which play an important role in making the overall experience an enjoyable one. Let’s say a cricket fan gets a job related to cricket, but he doesn’t like his fellow colleagues or is not proficient enough at the task in hand, the experience would most certainly not be a satisfying one.
Secondly, it is not a certainty that a person has a passion or there’s also a possibility that a person has multiple passions. In such scenarios, motivation involving following your passion is not only rendered worthless, but can also be a source of depression and dissatisfaction among the individual who might blame himself and try unnecessarily hard to find that one thing he is passionate about; which again as said by such motivators is not found by looking, it just comes your way.
A third reason can be that not all passions are worth following. Yes, people say that if you are passionate about something, you’ll find a way, but the following data will surely raise some doubts regarding the practicality of the said statement.
Fourth, statements like these make it sound like you can work out the right career in a flash of insight, and this is where the heading of this piece comes into the picture. Thinking too hard about a passion or a premature decision just because you enjoy a thing in the short term can lead to drastic consequences and possible regret, as is usually seen when a person experiences infatuation for another person, and not love. Such adrenaline driven motivated decisions can do more harm than good in the long run if you identify the wrong thing as your passion, provided that life does not give you unlimited opportunities.
Lastly and most importantly, a passion for most people is a passion and is enjoyable because it’s not a profession and because it does not have those added deadlines and pressure attached to it. Consider sports, many people like playing football, are ardent admirers, and think that if they commit to playing professional football, they might get a breakthrough and live the Santiago Munez life, but as soon as they enter the professional scenario, they experience the internal politics, the uncompassionate teammates and the selfish agendas and miss their old, more settled life.
Passion is a deep word, with each of it’s 7 letters being as deep as the seven seas, with each of it’s letters indicating the happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment you get from following it. Passion is not a firecracker which burns quickly, explodes and then vanishes, it is more like a candle, which during it entire lifetime illuminates your life and of those around you. Passion is not a panacea that alleviates your pain temporarily, it is a vaccine that prevents you from catching the disease of being dissatisfied and depressed for the rest of your life, and passion is not necessarily a camphor that catches fire easily, it is more an incense stick that can take time to burn, but once it does, it gives out a fragrance that makes everyone happy.
It is ironical that Steve Jobs, one of the most vocal proponents of the passion theory did not indeed follow his own passion, or else he would have been a Zen Teacher, depriving the world of one of the most elite electronic devices of the current era. You’ll always find examples where in people left their monotonous life to follow their passion and succeeded, but you’ll never find the failure stories, stories of people that left what they were doing, people who started loving their current thing, but switched because of a premature feeling, mistaking it for their passion. So, come on, let’s not get blinded by all these utopian quotes, let’s not leave everything to follow something which we don’t know holds what for us, let’s give the thing that we are currently doing a chance, give it time, understand it, because once our mind gets a hold for it, it makes a hateful task a mission that we strive to achieve. To end this piece, let’s go through a more practical advice given by the Apple Lover, ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do’.
Let’s start loving our profession more, and not only focus on doing what we love. Let’s love what we do, if we can’t do what we love.