following a passion

The Fallacy of Passion — Part 1

Posted on Posted in Motivation

I don’t believe in following a passion. And that doesn’t make me any less likely to succeed.

I took Science stream in my 11th and 12th. Maths, Physics, Chemistry; just to clarify. My school has been on last year’s top 10 CBSC schools in the country.

I did Bachelor’s (Hons) in Economics and Maths from Sri Sathya Sai University. Again, a university that consistently ranks in the top 10 list in India.

After that, I went to pursue a Masters in Economics from Toulouse School of Economics, France. Their economics department is in the top 3 in Europe, and predictably, in the top 10 list for the world.

The reason I am telling you all this is to ascertain that I have had the best of education, that I am not somehow delusional, or that I am not here sorting through sour grapes. I have been lucky enough to be a recipient of a very high standard of education, both formal and informal, academic and extra-curricular, scientific and spiritual.

And believe me when I say that I have forayed (wandered, rather) farther from the mainstream than most Indians do in their lifetime. So when I say I don’t believe in following a passion, it’s not because I don’t have a passion, or that I am somehow incapable of following one, because educationally and financially, I am more than capable of doing so.

I am a writer, and writing is not my passion.

It seems weird to say that writing is not my passion. Especially since I am a full-time writer! But that’s true: Writing is not my passion. 

That’s because true passion is a very rare thing. It doesn’t come easy, and it certainly is not exclusive or everlasting.

Translation: It’s hard to find a passion. You can be passionate about more than one thing. And, you can develop new passions (or forget old ones) as the time goes by.

I used to think that writing is my passion. But later on, I realised that what really gave me joy was writing itself, but the sense of creative ownership that writing provided. Once I had learnt that I soon discovered that other forms of expression — design in particular — gave me a similar sense of content and happiness.

So you see, you shouldn’t get attached to the act itself, rather be attached to the underlying principles.

Steve Jobs is a great example. He wanted to build beautiful stuff. So he started Apple. Then he got thrown out of his own company. So he started Pixar. Now making computers/electronics is way different from making animation films. Then how come Steve just gave up on his dream of building computers. Was the Mac not his passion?

Answer: No, it wasn’t. His passion was building beautiful stuff. As long as he was making products that are beautiful, and well made, and of the highest quality in their respective field, Steve Jobs was satisfied. It didn’t matter what he made, so long as he made them better than everyone else.

Steve’s passion was making beauty.

So, by all means, look for something that makes you happy. But then don’t just stop there. Go a step further. Find out why is it that makes you happy.

And then go another step further and find out other things like that that give you a similar joy.

There’s a more fundamental business lesson also within this exercise of finding similarly “passionate” streams. And that’s called —

Niches

There’s a huge market of “niche products and services”, but we’ll discuss them in later posts of this series.

We’ll also discuss Steve Jobs is some more detail and see how he managed to dismantle industry after industry by working the niche market. That’s going to be in part 2 of this Passion Series.

So stick around and follow this space for more discussions such as these.

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Before I end, I would like to point out that this post isn’t about me giving you advice. I don’t know if what I think is the correct way of thinking. I don’t even know if there is correct way of thinking. What I do know is what I feel and what I have felt. And that’s why I am writing this. To share my experience. You can do what you want with that information.

Here, I would like to quote one of my favourite writer/entrepreneur/podcaster, James Altucher. This is what he has to say about giving advice:

Nobody wants my advice. Nobody listens anyway. And they shouldn’t.

I like to tell a story instead. THIS is what happened to me. I hung around with people who I knew I shouldn’t and then I lost a ton of money. A short story about love, lust, greed, envy, and me. That’s not advice. It’s a story. People can take what they want from it.

Another story: I dated someone who drank at least five to ten glasses of wine every day. We started getting more serious. I thought she would stop. Soon, I was drinking a lot every day. We’d get into huge arguments. I’d oversleep. I missed important meetings. I lost friends.

Bad things happened.
So I can’t say: “don’t hang out with bad people” because I did it many times and always thought the result would be different. But I can tell the story of what happened to me and you can decide whether or not to follow.
Else, don’t listen to my advice.”
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