Is ‘follow your passion’ terrible advice?

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Our guest Cal Newport debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. He believes pre existing passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work— and he also thinks that the ‘follow your passion’ advice can be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping.

BreakingBizCalNewport

Cal Newport is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University, who specializes in the theory of distributed algorithms. He previously earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 2009 and graduated from Dartmouth College in 2004.

In addition to his academic work, Newport is a writer who focuses on contrarian, evidence-based advice for building a successful and fulfilling life in school and after graduation.

Cal is not the only guest on Breaking Biz to discuss the misunderstandings of following your passion. If the topic is of interest, check out our interviews with Lucas Carlson and Tucker Max.

Highlights:

How the whole ‘passion’ advice all started with a bloody wedding…. (sort of, just listen)

Cal considers his career advice to be a slower, more difficult but way more consistent path to passion. It’s much less sexy than quitting your job and moving to a farm.

Cal claims that what people are really looking for is:

  • A sense of autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Impact on the world
  • Connection

 

“You have to stop thinking about what value this job is offering me and come in with the mindset ‘what value am I offering to the world?”

Until you have some value in the marketplace, it’s very difficult to engineer your career to something you love.

Hear about the ad executive who quit to become a yoga instructor when what she really wanted was a sense of autonomy, impact and mastery. But by having no valuable skills in yoga, she was left with financial and personal stress.

How the well known Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford has been misunderstood. Here’s the speech Cal gave that mentions Steve Jobs and this commencement address.

Finally, Cal’s book on this subject is highly recommended. See below for more details:

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