Follow your passion? Hmm no, do what you’re good at!


“Follow your passion” and “Pursue your dreams and interests” has become mainstream advice for the past two decades. The logic, being that success will surely follow when you do what you love. But how true is this?

According to Water Isaacson, personal biographer of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs: “Jobs’ believed that we are all in the flow of history, and we should focus on helping the community and those around us, as to be truly successful, you need a passion that’s larger than yourself”

In 2015, Ben Horowitz, a prominent businessman and investor, delivered a commencement speech at Colombia University which was titled “Don’t follow your passion”. He suggested that only following passion can be a dangerous strategy. 8000 Hours, an online careers platform analysed over 60 studies regarding peoples pursuit of their dream job, and found that blindly pursuing your passion, without considering additional factors doesn’t lead to greater job satisfaction.

Below are some of the potential risks when blindly following your passion

Interests can change!

We’re continuously fascinated by what’s new and original, it’s almost an instinctive reaction. Simply ask yourself “what is my aspiration” every few months, and you’ll find it changes from time to time. Passions change as life progresses, so investing everything you have into something that could be temporal can be risky.

You might love it, but can you become good at it?

Takeshi Kitano, the famous Japanese director, once said neither comics or films were his true passion. “My career likely went better than expected because it wasn’t my passion from childhood, unlike many other directors who were obsessed from a very young age, I could look objectively at this industry and identify the blind spots as a result. If happiness is more important to you, it’s better to keep what you love doing as a personal interest, as just like baseball players, being an amateur can make you happier than being professional”.

Don’t allow your passion to restrict your exposure

We tend to identify what we love and feel comfortable with and just surround ourselves with it. Have you considered trying something outside of your comfort zone? Unless you try new things on a regular basis you’ll never discover your full potential. Sometimes, we can get too comfortable with our passions, and this stops us from progressing.

Successful people indeed have a lot of passion, however this can take years to effectively develop and build. To find your passion, you should start by focussing on your strengths and the type of contribution you make within you career. Simply put, do what you’re good and soon enough passions will develop, followed by progression and job satisfaction.

Fiona Wong

Freelance translator & writer, love arts, cinema, travel and flowers!

2 min read

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