Should You Follow Your Passion?
On June 16, I wrote a blog titled Don't Follow Your Passion. I discussed how Mike Rowe had suggested that passion isn't enough to ensure success and happiness. I wanted to get your thoughts on the subject. In case you missed it, you can read that blog HERE.
A reader sent me the following response, and I feel compelled to share it with our readers:
I was just reading your "Don't Follow Your Passion" blog post and wanted to share my thoughts.
Without exception, I adamantly encourage people young and old to follow their passions, whatever and wherever they may be. However, I'm very careful to never insinuate that their passion will automatically equate to commercial success.
People will often mistakenly conflate the success of following your passion with the (potential) monetary success that might accompany the pursuit. Your example of an individual auditioning for American Idol is an apt one as very few of those dreamers will qualify to advance through the rounds. While they've all followed their passion to some degree, their value defined by the entertainment industry might always be $0. At the same time, if performing truly is their passion, it'll become something that they relentlessly pursue and they'll become better at it.
To me, chasing your dreams and passions means that you take risks that others might not find to be appropriate for themselves. It means that you do things until you stumble and fall, and you pick yourself back up again. You learn by trial and error. You go farther and further than anyone else will because your passion drives you. Where others might try something once or twice, you're driven to try it a thousand times. None of these will guarantee wealth, or even income for that matter. If it does, that's great...but even if it doesn't, there is still a very tangible payoff. Those American Idol singers may absolutely suck, but if they continue to follow their passion, they'll most definitely suck less. And there is a lot of satisfaction in that.
I know many people who have taken the less popular road of pursuing their passion and have benefitted monetarily from it. Likewise, I know many people who left lucrative positions and made the difficult choices to pursue otherwise fulfilling roles in their communities, the arts, or many other areas in which they felt was their calling. In the book "The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying," the number one regret expressed was "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
Those are great words of advice! In the end, your success and happiness is up to you. Be true to yourself, do what you feel is right and never lose your passion or integrity!